On 25th July, residents of the Tulse Hill ward – which runs from Brixton’s town hall down to Tulse Hill station – will be asked to vote for a new councillor.
Eight candidates have put themselves forward, and they will explain what they would do for the area at a Brixton Blog hustings event on 23rd July – details here.
The hustings will be held at St Matthews Tenants Hall, 10 St Matthews Rd, SW2 1NH at 7.30pm on Tuesday 23rd July.
Ahead of the hustings, Brixton Blog has asked all of the candidates to introduce themselves and say what they would do if they won.
Their answers are below.
Adam Buick, Socialist Party
Things are not produced today to meet people’s needs. They are produced to make a profit. And that’s the cause of the problems people in Tulse Hill face.
Under the profit system profits always come first. Before providing basic services like health care and transport, before improving conditions at work, and before providing decent housing.
It’s profits first, people second.
Under the profit system production is in the hands of profit-seeking business enterprises, all competing to maximise the rate of return on the money invested in them.
Decisions as to what to produce and how much, and how and where to produce it, are not made in response to people’s needs but in response to market forces.
As a result, the health and welfare of the workforce and the effects on the environment take second place. The profit system can’t help doing this. It’s the only way it can work. Which is why it must go.
I know this is only a local by-election but make no apology for raising this issue. The reduced incomes and cuts to services that people in Tulse Hill are having to put up with are a direct result of the profit system being in an economic crisis.
When this happens governments, whatever their political colour, have to cut their spending so as to give profits a chance to recover. As local councils are largely financed by central government this trickles down to the local level too.
So, what’s the alternative?
One thing is certain. The Tories, LibDems and Labour — and now UKIP — have nothing to offer. They all support the profit system and are only squabbling over which of them should have a go at running it.
If we are going to improve things we are going to have to act for ourselves, without professional politicians or leaders of any kind.
We are going to have to organise ourselves democratically to bring about a society geared to serving human needs not profits.
Production to satisfy people’s needs. That’s the alternative. But this can only be done if we control production and the only basis for this is common ownership and democratic control.
I have been put forward by the Socialist Party as a name on the ballot paper you can put an X against to register your rejection of the profit system and your agreement with the alternative.
Valentine Walker, Independent, Save Lambeth Sheltered Housing candidate
I am fighting to make sure that when either you or your family members reach retirement, that the option of Sheltered Housing still exists in Lambeth. Not only should Lambeth maintain and retain its Sheltered Housing, it should be building more Sheltered Housing.
As a resident of Leigham Court Sheltered Housing Scheme, I was shocked and amazed when I heard of plans to demolish Leigham Court and to sell its land. Learning that this represented a borough-wide attack on other Sheltered Housing schemes.
I became further incensed when I learnt that this was past of Lambeth’s Older People’s Plan, which was not even developed by Older People.
I have decided to stand in the Tulse Hill By-election, as an Independent – “Save Lambeth Sheltered Housing Candidate”, because I feel very strongly that older people who are still active, should be given a choice in housing. Sheltered Housing for the independent senior, should ALWAYS be part of that choice”.
I fought against racism as a black man and now I am fighting against age discrimination as an older man.
Historically, ‘Extra Care Housing’ was for seniors with higher dependency needs, and inappropriate for people like me or most of those currently happy in Sheltered Housing, where we can maintain our independence. Besides catering for needs, where non-existent, is surely wasteful.
“For what other group could you build something called ‘Extra Care Housing’, and order them to move in, whether they wanted to or not? This is discrimination.
For me, ‘Extra Care Housing’, is a step too close to the Care Home, for independent and active seniors, like myself.
We demand choices which include the option of Sheltered Housing. If elected, I will champion older people’s rights in housing and argue for a re-write of the Older Peoples Plan – this time, written by older people.
To achieve this, I will need the support of the whole community – I respectfully ask for your votes and support.
Steve Nally, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
As a life long socialist I will never vote for any cuts in local jobs and services. All the main political parties, including Labour, now accept the government’s agenda of cuts and austerity. I think they are wrong and out of touch with the hopes and needs of the communities they claim to represent.
I believe in the socialist alternative where the wealth we have created is used to benefit the many and not the few. Over £800 billion is sitting in city bank accounts and this money could be used to reverse all the cuts and give our communities a future.
I pledge that I will work to build an effective trade union and community campaign to fight against austerity and cuts in Lambeth and elsewhere.
This has been done before in Lambeth and can and must be done again.
I do not believe that working class communities like Tulse Hill should pay the price for banker’s greed and this Labour council co-operating to endlessly pass on ConDem coalition cuts.
In Tulse Hill I pledge to support those fighting ongoing cuts to local services. I will also actively oppose any attempt to forcibly evict people affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ or government changes to benefits.
Nobody should be at the mercy of greedy landlords or be forced to move out of Lambeth or London.
I will campaign against the scandal of overcrowding and demand that Lambeth council begins a programme of building decent homes for those that are most in need. Our young people deserve a future and the facts show that overcrowding can harm that future.
If elected I will immediately convene a Lambeth Anti-Austerity Forum to draw up a needs budget that puts people before profit and protects the most vulnerable in our local community.
If that means breaking the law then so be it. Better to break the law than to break the poor.
Elizabeth Jones, UK Independence Party
Elizabeth has asked us to reprint the article that UKIP wrote about her when she stood for election in the Brixton Hill by-election in January.
Elizabeth Jones lives locally and works as a solicitor. She will bring her experience of family matters, noise control, small businesses and parking campaigns to the ward.
Lambeth Council needs a shake-up. As councillor, Elizabeth will speak out for the residents and businesses in the area.
For too long, Labour has taken people for granted. Time to cap top pay + perks. UKIP brings a new modern approach to politics.
14 key points
- Lived and worked as solicitor in area for 6 years.
- Take interest in theatre, opera and arts.
- Stood for UKIP: 2010 General + 2012 London elections.
- Support monarchy.
- Freedom too much restricted by Brussels – EU make 70% of laws.
- Local businesses and jobs are key priority. Councils should control business rates; lower them to attract new enterprise.
- Parking key to local economy. Have experience campaigning to lower parking charges; will promote free shopping days + hospital parking.
- Believe local people should vote on local planning + transport issues.
- Road humps go unless majority in road want to keep them.
- Noise nuisance and potholes would be priorities – council must act on complaints.
- Support open space, parks, want more trees.
- Need more police on the street.
- Lambeth Council overpays senior staff – should cut costs + council advertising. Will save taxpayer money by opting out of councillor pension scheme
Mary Atkins, Labour party
I was born and brought up in south London. I left school at 16 but later went to University at Loughborough. I did Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Malawi for 2 years working for the government and that experience, made me aware of the economic injustices in the world and is the reason I joined the Labour Party.
I have worked in a number of local and central government organisations doing contract and project management, usually working with partners to deliver change and improve services such as ensuring children and young people with disabilities are able to take part in services.
In my free time I have enjoyed working with local people on a number of projects, from community singing to setting up a market. I have become a student again and I recently started a green economics course.
I have many interests in the arts, I am a performer with the Southbanks “Voice lab” project and I regularly go to live music events.
If elected I would focus on developing Tulse Hill issues and ensuring local people’s concerns were heard in decision making.
This could be keeping Rush Common clean and safe for children to play; the parking , pavements and potholes problems of the area, as well as the big issues such as the regeneration project on Cressingham Gardens and the high rate of unemployment particularly amongst young people.
I will support the council’s policies on keeping the council tax frozen, improving housing stock and working to deliver the Co-operative Council.
I also look forward to working with my fellow Tulse Hill councillors Ade Aminu and Marcia Cameron.
Bernard Atwell, Green party
I first stood for the Greens in Tulse Hill in 2006 when we came second, and again in 2010.
In last year’s London elections Greens also came second in Tulse Hill. Living on the Cressingham Gardens estate, I have seen the impact of what the Labour council is doing. It is placing the government’s cuts squarely onto the shoulders of the most vulnerable.
Labour is implementing the bedroom tax and has said it will evict those who can’t afford it. Other councils around the country have said they won’t.
Labour is kicking elderly pensioners out of their homes and evicting tenants in ‘co-op’ housing, to sell the property to developers.
Labour has taken a bribe from the Conservatives and Lib Dems to freeze council tax for the wealthy – while taking away council tax benefit from those who need help the most.
The Greens got Lambeth council to introduce a ‘Living Wage’ so the lowest paid employed by the council get more than the bare minimum.
We got Lambeth to u-turn on its rejection of a 20mph borough-wide limit. We have also exposed Lambeth’s terrible environmental record, which is costing the borough huge sums of money.
I want to push Lambeth to use Tulse Hill’s empty housing. Almost one in five of London’s empty properties are in Lambeth. Meanwhile 27,534 households are on Lambeth council’s waiting lists. This is double next-door Southwark.
Lambeth should be supporting housing co-ops which empower local people to get hold of empty housing and bring it back into use – not selling them off.
Lambeth council has one of the worst recycling rates in London. It tried to cover it up by sending all its waste for incineration – and calling this ‘recycling’ because the ash was used to build motorways!
Incineration is creating more air pollution which causes around 4,600 premature deaths in London each year. But Lambeth council has failed to produce an air quality report since 2009. It even withdrew from the London Air Quality Network. It was only after pressure from local Greens that their decision was reversed.
Vote for a greener, more affordable Lambeth.
Tim Briggs, Conservative party
I am a former actor who joined the Parachute Regiment and served in Afghanistan. I live in Lambeth with my wife (originally from Peru) and our two children. I am now a housing solicitor fighting unscrupulous landlords and antisocial neighbours, and I volunteer as a legal adviser at a local advice service.
I decided to stand for election having helped numerous local residents deal with problems that could easily have been avoided with better support from the council.
We need to overcome the long-term economic neglect of Labour by focusing on attracting investment ward-by-ward, starting with Tulse Hill, where many of the shops are closed down and untenanted.
Let’s give an 18-month business rate holiday to different areas of the borough on a rolling basis, starting with the row of shops on Tulse Hill at the corner of Brixton Water Lane.
As the Mayor Boris Johnson says: ‘Tim Briggs understands the bigger picture, that bringing investment into an area changes lives.’
How to pay for it? By stopping Labour wasting our money.
Last year Lambeth used taxpayers’ money to fund a poster campaign complaining about central government spending cuts, while failing to collect almost £6million in council tax, the worst of any borough in London.
This council closes sheltered housing schemes across the borough where some of the most vulnerable people live, pleading poverty, while planning a £30 million building project to give itself grand new offices!
Labour need to spend more time sorting out your problems and less time on posters and ‘free’ newspapers to try to promote political careers outside Lambeth.
Labour and the Liberals did nothing about the closure of Clapham fire station, whereas the Conservatives worked to get the decision successfully reversed. I personally met London Assembly Member James Cleverley to help prevent the closure.
I support schools and organisations for young people such as the Air Cadets at the TA Centre on Kings Avenue which help them build the skills, teamwork and confidence necessary to hold down jobs.
My priorities for Tulse Hill are:
– Giving a business rate tax holiday to shop parades in less affluent areas of the ward to encourage investment and improve lives;
– Encouraging local schools, colleges, youth clubs and organisations that help build skills and confidence for young people;
– Stop Lambeth Council wasting money whilst providing shoddy local services
Amna Ahmad, Liberal Democrat
At secondary school, I was eligible for free school meals and gained an assisted place in 1995. In my teens, I was in foster care for a short time and from that, I gained resilience and determination.
At school I worked hard and gained a place at Oxford University.
Since then I have specialised in communications working with organisations and companies such as Nike, the Open University and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
I am passionate about the difference that education can make, which is why I volunteer with the women’s education charity, Baytree Centre.
There are some great examples of community spirit in Tulse Hill – the Urban Art Festival, Leander Road Street Party, Josephine and Arodene cleaning – but, there is a more sombre side where, for example, some local residents also face losing their homes.
Cressingham Gardens Estate, which borders Brockwell Park, is being considered for demolition and redevelopment. A residents’ survey showed that almost 80% of residents do not wish to move. Residents will have to wait until October until they know what will happen to their homes.
Tulse Hill has been neglected by the Labour-run Lambeth council. As I speak to residents in the area, people tell me they are shocked that Labour is planning to spend £30million on a new Town Hall ‘campus’ complex.
Labour councillors complain about ‘government cuts’, but many services could be protected and even improved if money was used efficiently.
Youth services have been cut by £6 million. Labour can’t argue that it’s necessary, while they plan to waste £30 million on new Town Hall offices. That money could also help Lambeth resurface and repave three times more streets than they are doing at present.
To make matters worse, Lambeth’s cuts come at a time when the council is hoarding away a staggering £187 million in “usable reserves”. That means Labour are squirreling money away for next year’s council elections, while services suffer now.
It’s just not right.
If I’m elected as your councillor, I’ll use my energy, resilience and determination to stand up for local residents’ concerns and be a new voice for Tulse Hill. I will fight for youth services, repairs to those roads and pavements that have been neglected and inward investment.
I think these should all be far higher priorities than building new offices!
The hustings will be held at St Matthews Tenants Hall, 10 St Matthews Rd, SW2 1NH at 7.30pm on Tuesday 23rd July.