"No party politics, just the needs of residents"
My family has lived in or around Chingford since the 1930s. I have lived in my late grandmother’s Chingford house for 15 years. I love the leafy and suburban character of E4 and Highams Park and do not want to see it transformed into something more akin to the inner city. Our Labour-run borough council is eagerly overdeveloping with an eye on increasing council tax revenue. Our Conservative government sets the pace with targets and has cut their funding, which is then used by Labour to justify its actions.
I am standing in the new ward of Hale End and Highams Park South because Labour hold all the seats in the current ward set-up. It is the best place to take them on. It’s also an area becoming less conservative in demographic, and it’s important to provide an alternative to the Tories - who many people will not want to vote for despite their local opposition to overdevelopment. An alternative to Labour also needs to be provided, as they are angering many of their core voters on this issue.
On all local issues I want to represent what residents are saying, by listening to their different points of view and applying fairness and common sense to my decisions. I want the best amenities for them, the best value for their money and councillors that work hard for them – not on their political careers or the party line.
I want to develop local businesses, tackle crime and fly-tipping, lobby for better street cleaning and maintenance, increase youth services and improve our infrastructure. We need sensible ways of addressing the housing crisis and environmental concerns. Massive unaffordable developments, huge incinerators and closed-off roads are not the answer.
Aside of politics I work as an online second-hand bookseller, am a keen writer, musician and video editor, and I love movies, music and walking.
I will be standing as an independent voice for this ward
Political parties do not represent our interests - their councillors have to follow party policy
Labour control Waltham Forest and hold all 3 seats in the current ward setup - they want to build large, inappropriate developments in the area
The Conservatives oppose this, but likely they would do the same if they controlled the council (these are Tory government targets)
Such development plans are the consequence of failed national policy from both parties, and our community is expected to suffer for it
The Regal cinema urgently needs restoring, but must be rethought if the revised plan has more flats or storeys than were permitted in 2021
Any residents parking schemes must be clearly supported by affected residents and I oppose ideological "Mini Holland" style road closures
I'm very keen on tackling street maintenance issues and fly-tipping
The chief issue driving me is that Labour-led Waltham Forest council is trying to build large, inappropriate developments around the borough. In many parts of Highams Park and Chingford, these would be completely out of character for the area, especially high-rise tower blocks.
The London Mayor and GLA have set a building target for WF of 1,264 homes per year. In its own plan, WF aims to produce 536 more than that per year
The local Conservative party opposes this overdevelopment. However, their central government sets the building targets for local authorities. It has also been cutting local government funding since it came to power. This means councils have to chase revenue through council tax, hence WF’s eagerness to build. Both main parties, therefore, are to blame.
Not enough supporting infrastructure is being provided by such plans: parking, school places, doctors surgeries, transport, sewers. The WF Plan does briefly discuss these, but it is far from convincing. Even public buildings and council-owned green spaces have been earmarked for housing. Examples of this are Hale End Library a few years ago and the woodland behind Chingford Leisure Centre.
These proposals were both defeated by public backlash, just as the 6-9 storey block next to HP station was denied planning permission following the outcry. This shows what can be achieved when we dig our heels in as a community, rallied by local organisations such as the HP Planning Group. However such proposals will come back in other forms. Many other sites remain on WF’s list, such as the Chingford Assembly Hall. We have to keep holding them to account.
It cannot be denied there is a housing crisis – huge demand without the supply. There are many national factors at play in this. Homes need to be built and made affordable. However, the construction should be sensible and suitable for the areas in which it is done. It needs public consent and must be transparent, with no cosy agreements between closed doors. Public amenities and historical structures must be conserved, and investment in services increased to keep pace with the new builds.
I will look closely at how LBWF spend money, and ask if certain projects are value for the rates payer.
I will help tackle crime by pushing for police patrols and passing on residents’ complaints, making sure trouble spots are well known to the police. After numerous violent incidents there is certainly the perception this area is not as safe as it once was. Car crime is notoriously rife in Chingford and HP.
The increase in London crime is connected to the the lack of youth facilities providing a constructive outlet and guidance for young people. Aside of the crime issue, such facilities are very important anyway. We should develop more in the borough and this area.
I am interested in encouraging the development of local businesses, and seeing what can be done to give them the best chance in a challenging time. Thriving (but considerate) businesses are key to a sense of community, providing income and jobs for residents. It has been pointed out by many on my campaign that there ought to be a better variety of shops in the area – not just the current plethora of takeaways and barbershops and the monopoly of Tesco.
I am not convinced by the expansion of the Edmonton incinerator, which WF is involved in and will cause a lot more pollution and potential health damage in the area. The full costs and benefits need to be made public and a proper debate held. Indeed, the wider issue of waste collection and recycling needs a full airing. Are we getting the best results and value for money from the current set-up?
I will strive to protect any buildings of historical interest in the borough, trying to get them nationally listed if necessary. The centuries-old Larkshall pub was recently under threat, but luckily - and after a campaign from its regulars - an independent pub chain took it over. In 2016 the Edwardian Selwyn Primary School was replaced with a less attractive modern building in order to provide 300 more school places. Surely at least some of the old building could have been kept.
I’m very keen on tackling street maintenance/cleaning issues and the antisocial and illegal practice of fly-tipping. The surfaces of some roads and pavements are shocking, while money is spent on other lower priority things. Fly tipping has perhaps increased because the council has made it harder and more expensive for the public to dispose of waste items.
I am against anti-car policies, especially ‘LTNs’ and road closures such as the ‘Mini Holland’ scheme in Walthamstow. There is the need to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, improve air quality and to promote walking/cycling. However, our society is still dependent on the internal combustion engine. People need to get to work and transport their children, elderly relatives or groceries, and a car can be essential in emergencies. People can’t all afford electric vehicles and there are not many places to charge them even if they could. Road closures seem to be deliberately making things harder. The green credentials of LTNs are flawed, because extra emissions are caused by the diverted traffic taking lengthier routes and getting stuck in gridlock.
Cycle lanes can be another top-down hindrance. There is an argument for them and cyclists need safety as much as anyone else, but sometimes in the borough (such as near the Town Hall) you encounter multiple lanes – one on the road and one on the pavement. In other parts of London some pedestrianised areas appear to prioritise cyclists over those on foot. You also see bollards between the cycle lane and the carriageway, which seem more dangerous than they are safe. Trendy aspirations are being put above common sense. LTNs, cycle lanes and traffic calming measures all need proper debate and consultation.
Parking is a divisive issue. Although the freedom to park has its appeal, some roads suffer badly from parking by commuters and parents on the school run, which deprive residents of spaces. I support residents parking schemes for specific streets if there is a clear demand for them and the decision is ratified by a democratic vote. This is done sometimes in the borough. However these schemes do involve each car-owning household paying for spaces. I believe they should provide at least one free space per household if they need it. A small premium could apply for extra vehicles.
Do you like what you’ve read? Do you have any suggestions? I operate on common sense, and I try to be fair in my appraisal of situations. Ultimately, local politics needs to be a compromise to get something that works. To reach that compromise we have to take responsibility for our own communities and not just allow them to be run by self-interested institutions such as political parties, corporations or councils. There is no compromise without the involvement of ordinary residents. If you believe in this and you want to see change, please VOTE FOR ME ON MAY 5, or other independents if you are in a different ward or borough/district.
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