What’s in a name? For the latest candidate to join the race for Mayor of London, it seems to matter quite a lot.

Croydon-born businesswoman Farah London has today (Monday October 12) announced she will run as an independent for City Hall in next year’s election.

The Mayoral vote was due to take place this May, but was delayed in March as coronavirus cases spiked in the capital.

Ms London is the first candidate to enter the race since the pandemic, with independent Rory Stewart and Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita forced to withdraw.

But businesswoman Ms London said the city needs to move away from party politics in the wake of Covid-19.

“The damage inflicted by this dreadful pandemic makes next year’s election the most important in London’s history,” she said.

“After years of failing to address our city’s problems, another career politician is the last thing London needs.”

The businesswoman was previously a Conservative, serving as honorary secretary for St James’s ward in Westminster.

She was “intimately involved” in the party’s 2019 election campaign in the borough, according to her team.

But Ms London said she is now standing as an independent “unconstrained by party politics” – and emphasised her business experience.

The entrepreneur is the founder and director of two companies – digital branding and events firm Chameleon Jungle and international networking forum Back 2 Business International, both incorporated in 2019.

She previously worked in variety of finance roles in London, Dubai and Istanbul.

Ms London said she would focus on the cost of living and safety in London if elected as Mayor next year.

She said the rise of knife crime was “shameful” and pledged to reopen police stations and recruit 6,000 new officers and volunteer special constables.

The businesswoman backs simpler planning laws and home building on disused industrial land – known as brownfield sites – as well as a council tax break for under 25s to ease the pressure of high rents.

She pledged to cut the congestion charge to £12 and reduce it to five days a week “on day one” if elected, as well as introducing lower tariffs for short trips in the zone.

Ms London does not support the removal of statues in the city but proposed a new Black and Cultural Heritage museum.

She wants to attract more tech businesses to the city, and to keep more tax raised in London in the capital.

“Politicians don’t have a monopoly on ideas,” Ms London said.

“Instead of navel gazing in City Hall, I’ll be getting out there and listening to the concerns of real Londoners.”

Current Mayor Sadiq Khan is standing the for re-election next year, and had a clear lead in the latest poll, with 49 per cent of voters backing him as their first choice in August.

Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey lead the pack of challengers on 26 per cent with Green Sian Berry on nine per cent.

Some 12 per cent of voters backed a Liberal Democrat candidate, who is yet to be selected – though it is likely to be former MEP Luisa Porritt.

The Camden councillor is running uncontested for the nomination after her opponent, Geeta Sidhu-Robb, quit the party race over antisemitism allegations.

The Mayoral and London Assembly election will take place in May next year.