Vassall ward by-election: The candidates speak

On 28 November, residents of the Vassall ward, which includes the Myatts Field and Cowley Estates, will be asked to vote for a new councillor.

Seven candidates have put themselves forward. Brixton Blog has asked all of the candidates to introduce themselves and say what they would do if they won.

Their answers are below.

Colette Thomas, Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat candidate, Vassall ward by-election

I am standing for election because I want to ensure our community is represented on the council. To make our council work harder for you and addresses the real needs of people in Vassall Ward.

And to make sure that the council gets the basics right, rather than wasting money on large vanity projects that will benefit only a few people – like the plans for a £50m new town hall.

I have lived in Vassall ward for 17 years with my now teenage son. I am the only candidate in the by-election who actually lives in Vassall ward. I am a housing association tenant and understand the need for more good quality affordable housing in the borough.

For the last 10 years I have worked as a self-employed registered childminder looking after local children. Young people and children are important to me, and making sure young people have the best start in life means having great parks for them to play in and good local schools.

As the chair of the “Friends of Slade Gardens” I have fought for funding to make sure the children’s play facilities were improved.

I am first and foremost a community campaigner rather than a politician. What attracted me to stand as the Liberal Democrat candidate is the fact that they are the ones I see at every meeting, involved in every activity and working the hardest for my local community.

I have seen the difference that Liberal Democrat councillors make in my area. I want to be part of the only team that is really delivering for local residents.

If you elect me as your Vassall ward Liberal Democrat councillor you will be electing a real representative of the community – living in the community and working hard for that community. Working hard on the issues that really matter to local people – such as housing, children and young people, and parks and open spaces.

I will continue to roll my sleeves up and get to work on local issues, as I do now. As your councillor I will be able to do more.


Rachel Laurence, Green party

rachel laurenceA Lambeth mum, I am standing for the Greens in the Vassall ward by-election because I believe ordinary people in Lambeth should be able to live in affordable homes, earn decent wages, get proper health-care locally when they need it, and breathe clean air.

I feel the Labour council just isn’t making this happen – what I see instead is implementation of government cuts without a fight, freezing council tax for the wealthiest while taking away council tax benefit from those who earn the least, axing social housing and cutting public services.

Having worked for years as a community campaigner in London supporting children, families and community organisations to work for change and hold decision makers to account, my priority if elected will be to provide some real scrutiny within the council.

I want to push the Labour Lambeth council to fulfill the commitments it made in response to pressure from the Greens to pay employees (2009) and subcontractors (2012) the London living wage. I’d like to see the council fight the bedroom tax, rather than evict those who can’t afford it.

I would lobby the council to reduce its waiting list of over 27,000 households, instead of evicting tenants from short life housing to sell it off to developers.

I also would want to sort out Lambeth’s plummeting recycling rate which is costing the borough money, and make sure the council doesn’t again try and pass off incineration of waste as ‘recycling’ to pretend its record is improving, as it did last year.

If elected, I commit to doing my utmost to provide fresh thinking and real scrutiny of the council, and channeling local residents’ views and voices into council decision making.


Steve Nally, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Steve has asked us to use an amended version of the article he wrote when he stood in the Tulse Hill by-election in July.

Steve Nally, TUSC
Steve Nally, TUSC

As a life long socialist I will never vote for cuts in 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 Vassall ward should pay the price for banker’s greed and this Labour council co-operating to endlessly pass on ConDem coalition cuts.

In Vassall ward 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, UKIP

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 and again in the Tulse Hill by-election in July.

Elizabeth Jones, UKIP
Elizabeth Jones, UKIP

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


Kelly ben-Maimon, Conservative party

Kelly ben-Maimon, Conservative candidate for Vassall ward by-election

Kelly ben-Maimon, local activist and community stalwart, is the Conservative party candidate in the Vassall by-election.

Kelly has lived in the area for over 20 years and has an unparalleled record of community activism.

She has chaired her local residents’ association, been a chairman of a school governing board, was appointed by the Home Office to check on the welfare of detainees held in police custody in Lambeth, is an elected member on Lambeth’s Community Police Consultative Group and works non-stop in her community.

Kelly is determined to serve Vassall ward residents and make sure the council works for you.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to stand in Vassall ward”, said Kelly. “It is a brilliant part of London, but it could be even better if only it had a local councillor who would work with local residents, rather than just blindly toe the Town Hall line regardless of its impact on Vassall.

If elected, I will be that councillor. I will work tirelessly to build sincere relationships with everyone in the ward and become a person they can trust to help them.”

Kelly has identified five priorities if she was elected as councillor on Thursday. These are as follows:

·         To work tirelessly to support social housing tenants, for too long let down by Labour Lambeth.

·         To work with those concerned at the rise of bars and clubs on Brixton Road and insist on a licensing policy that is fair to residents.

·         To seek greater accountability from local police in cracking down on anti-social behaviour around the ward.

·         To work with residents’ groups who want to transform local amenities such as Slade Gardens, and ensure you are heard at the council.

·         To campaign for council tax payments to be reduced, in order to fall in line with Tory Wandsworth and Westminster, where the electorate pays much less.


Danny Lambert, Socialist party 

Danny Lambert, The Socialist Party
Danny Lambert, The Socialist Party

In that interview with Paxman, Russell Brand called for a revolution against the present system of elite rule and neglect of people’s needs. I agree.

But no more than Brand’s is our idea of revolution one of riots, barricades and blood on the streets. It’s about a complete change in the basis of society. From the present minority class ownership and production for profit to common ownership, democratic control and production to meet people’s needs.

The present system can never be reformed to work in the interest of the majority. All the other candidates disagree and are promising to reform it in one way or another. But reform has been tried many times and look where we still are.

The present system  can only work by putting profits before people.

That’s why, faced with an economic  crisis, the government has been reducing services and cutting benefits. And why local councils have been forced to do the same. It’s to leave businesses with more profit in the hope that this will lead them to start expanding again. That’s how capitalism works and can only work.

I make no apology for raising this in a local election. It’s not what local councils, or even national governments, do that shapes how we live. It’s the economic system. And that’s what got to be changed.

Brand says we shouldn’t vote. I agree we shouldn’t vote for parties that are out to run the system.

I don’t either. But we shouldn’t allow them a free run. That’s why the Socialist Party is contesting this election. To give people a chance to show they want an essentially peaceful democratic majority revolution to replace capitalism with a system in which productive resources have become the common heritage of all to be used for the benefit of all.


Paul Gadsby, Labour 

Labour PartyI’ve been working hard in Vassall for a number of years and love living here.

Our area is a special place, with a real sense of community. I’ve shown that I can win improvements to our area by campaigning with local people – now I want the chance to deliver for residents at the town hall too.

I’ve already met hundreds and hundreds of local residents on the roving doorstep surgeries I helped launch at the beginning of last year and at the regular coffee mornings I’ve organised with our local MP Kate Hoey and council leader Lib Peck. I’ve heard what our community cares about. That’s why I’m putting three issues at the centre of my campaign.

My first priority will be to help residents struggling with the rising cost of living.

Prices continue to rise faster than wages and many people are worried about job security. Residents have told me they dread the next bill dropping through the door and are planning to spend less this Christmas. If elected I’ll vote to freeze council tax again next year to help ease the pressure on family budgets.

My next priority will be to protect vital community assets like our local parks and the Minet library, which are threatened by savage Lib Dem Tory cuts. I pledge to protect our parks and libraries from closure working with Lambeth Labour who have not closed a single library in the borough.

Finally, I’ll stop the Lib Dem attack on council housing. The government wants to scrap secure lifetime tenancies so they can kick tenants out of their homes, they have slashed funding for house building and now local Lib Dems are arguing against Labour’s plan to build more council housing. I’ll protect council tenants and campaign for extra investment in housing generally, as well as help residents suffering from bad landlords.

Most importantly if elected I will work hard every single day for people in Vassall. I’ll be local, available and I’ll always put residents first.



Do you live in Vassall ward? Check on the map: VassallWardMap-2


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