Tevye Markson talks to Becca Thackray who was victorious in Herne Hill as the Green party won five councillors on Lambeth council to become the official opposition to the Labour Party
Becca Thackray received 2,365 votes to top the poll in Lambeth’s Herne Hill ward where she will join Labour’s Jim Dickson (2,335) and Pauline George (2,246).
The Green party won four other Lambeth seats to take its total to five and advance its aim of putting pressure on the council’s large Labour party majority.
“I’m pleased on many fronts,” Cllr Thackray told the Blog.
“We are going to be the main opposition to Labour, acting as cautionary voices and advocates on behalf of our ward members.”
Nick Edwards, who ran in Herne Hill as an independent “Herne Hill Community & Libraries Campaign” candidate, originally stood to be selected as a Green party candidate there, but was not chosen. He received what may have been a very significant 705 votes.
If a number of those votes had gone to Green party candidates Nick Christian (2,060) and Matt Reynolds (2,049), they may have gained a second or even taken all three seats in Herne Hill.
Cllr Thackray said: “It could have been a different result. We’ll never know, but that’s politics.
“The lovely freedom we have in this country is that anybody can stand.”
But the Greens did sweep the board in St. Leonard’s ward in Streatham, which was represented by their sole councillor in the last administration, Scott Ainslie. They now have three councillors there, including Green party co-leader Jonathan Bartley; the first time the Greens have won all three seats in a ward in Lambeth.
“We’re seeing a very slow but steady increase in councillors,” said Cllr Bartley.
“It’s very much the local issues which are enabling us to make the breakthroughs.”
Cllr Thackray pointed to issues such as the Carnegie library and music festivals in Brockwell Park as key to the Greens’ progress in Lambeth. She also stressed the importance of interacting with the community.
“A lot of my job as a councillor will be showing people how to complain at the right time, to the right person, in the right way,” she said.
“Politics can be that simple. When people don’t feel heard, they get angrier.”
Labour made a clean sweep of the first ten wards announced in the count at the Oval cricket ground yesterday before losing their first seat, in Gipsy Hill, to the Greens’ Pete Elliott who had come within a few votes of winning a 2016 by-election in the ward.
It was a bittersweet moment for Labour as they simultaneously claimed a majority of councillors.
The Conservatives, who had three councillors previously, were left with just one, Tim Briggs, despite a recount in his Clapham Common ward that made Lambeth the last London council to make a full declaration of votes cast and councillors elected.
After their third, fourth and fifth seats were announced, the whole Lambeth Green party clan took to the stage to celebrate what they hope will be the start of a green wave.
“We’ll never know,” indeed Cllr Thackray. But the maths does stack up, had the Independent candidate not had their name on the ballot paper then those 705 votes would have been cast elsewhere and it is unlikely Labour would have been the beneficiary. Independent candidates rarely do well at the ballot box, they simply don’t have all the political machinery and man-power behind them. Look at Rachel Heywood in Coldharbour, crushed by the party machine. In 2010 she polled a massive 3983 and 2232 in 2014 both under the Labour banner. As an Independent candidate she got 660. “We’ll never know” is the tradegy here after all the furore over Brockwell Park being touted out for festivals as one of the many hot topics in Herne Hill. Three Herne Hill Green Councillors along the lines as in St Leonard’s could, in time, have brought about a rethink of this terrible policy. Yesterday in Brockwell Park, couples, families, individuals were all out enjoying the warm sun, playing games, picnicking or catching afew rays of sun or getting some peace. This all in the fenced off area allocated for the festival. In 2 weeks time this will be curtailed as on 20th May the metal fence starts to go up, HGV’s start entering the park and that remains the casing point until the last fence panel is removed on 10th June. 3 whole weeks, 3 whole weekends. This time a much larger swathe of the park is to be sealed off. From the Lido to Norwood Road entrance, up to the house and down to the walled garden, around the tennis courts and back down to the Lido. The only real space left will be besides the huge oak tree and the uncut grass on the Tulse Hill side. All the cut through paths will be sealed off for the three days itself and maybe longer, who knows. This return of a massive Labour Council might well see more of the same over the years or even an increase since it was the 2014-18 administration that started all this and there is not much change at the top. Collective responsibility, this is a Labour policy, Labour Councillors can all rub their hands in glee, better still if the weather is lovely, like this weekend, go down to the park between the dates above and explain your policy to the park goers. Always up for a photo op, go on. The Leader of the Council should venture there and see that metal fence for herself, if she hasn’t done so already. See the size of the HGV’s entering the park and the speed they and other vehicles whizz up that hill from the Herne Hill entrance. That fence will be massive this time round. Lambeth Labour had better hope for dry, warm weather because if it is wet and water logged, as the Park so often gets, the place will be even more of a mess after over 100,000 feet have trampled on it. Surely how the park is after the festival will impact on events after it, one being the Country Show. In Streatham we saw events postponed due to the damage earlier in the year. The whole thing is a complete mess.
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