On Thursday 5 May, London will vote for assembly members as well as a new mayor. There are 25 London assembly seats up for grabs and it is the responsibility of whoever holds those seats to hold the London Mayor to account.
Tower Hamlets falls in the City and East seat, as do the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Newham and the City of London.
But who are the candidates for the City and East seat? And where do they stand on key issues like the housing crisis and EU membership?
Elaine Bagshaw – Liberal Democrats
Elaine Bagshaw stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Tower Hamlets 2015 mayoral elections. Between 2008 and 2015 she held roles at the Financial Conduct Authority. Currently she is a consultant at the PA Consulting Group.
Equality and housing are the key issues of her campaign. She would also like to tackle the high proportion of child poverty in East London – 40 per cent in East London and 49 per cent in Tower Hamlets.
As a member of the GLA she hopes to temper the housing crisis by encouraging developers and councils to designate more investment and space for social housing.
Bagshaw believes that London and the UK are better off in the European Union. The UK is better able to tackle climate change, the refugee crisis, terrorism and financial crime as part of a larger community, she says. Outside the EU the UK would survive, but not thrive.
Chris Chapman – Conservative Party
Chris Chapman is Councillor for Blackwall and Cubitt Town in Tower Hamlets and Head of Content at Centaur Media M&C.
Due to his campaign schedule Chapman was unavailable to speak to the East End Citizen. However, on his website he lists his three main causes that he supports:
- Fighting for infrastructure, including primary and secondary schools, GP surgeries and transport upgrades
- Safeguarding taxpayers’ money and opposing wasteful public spending
- Ensuring that residents feel safe and secure with increases in visible neighbourhood policing.
Rachel Collinson – Green Party
Rachel Collinson is Chair of Newham Green Party and Spokesperson on Business, Innovation and Skills for the national party. She also works in fundraising and digital campaigning.
Housing is at the heart of her campaign. Herself a renter, Collinson views the Green party candidates as best placed to fix Londoners’ renting problem.
She cites the Green Party and Citizens UK’s role in the redevelopment of the old St Clements hospital in Mile End as an example of homes being provided that people on average incomes can actually afford to buy.
Collinson hopes to free up more land from the GLA to create hundreds of these schemes, as well as set up a Renters’ Union to tip the balance of power in favour of tenants.
The Green candidate believes London should stay in the EU, highlighting that 1.2 million EU citizens currently in London and the fact that Brexit would break up families, businesses and construction.
It is thanks to British MEPs that Europe has high standards of animal protection, she says. Should Britain leave, other countries would lobby to lower these high standards.
The EU is the only body holding London to account on air pollution – the city is continually in breach of EU limits, she adds.
Aaron D’ Souza – All People’s Party
Aaron D’ Souza is a Youth Leader and Business Manager at Global Markets Consultants. All People’s Party was set up by Southwark’s local entrepreneur Prem Goyal OBE JP and longstanding community leader and former Councillor Prince Adedokun Lasaki. It focuses on promoting equality in the borough and beyond.
D’ Souza is standing to give young leaders a voice and to tackle youth social exclusion. Two policies that he would push in City Hall are: making the entire London underground network a 24 hour service by 2020, and ensuring the senior level of the Metropolitian Police are representative of London in terms of diversity by 2024.
D’ Souza hopes Britain will remain in the EU, given the growth and size of other countries across the world. He believes that by 2050, Britain will need be in the EU to remain a leader on the world stage.
Amina Gichinga – Take Back the City
Amina Gichinga is a singing teacher working in schools predominantly in East London. For the last three years she has been a music leader and community organiser in Silvertown, working with deprived communities living with the effects of London City Airport.
In 2015 she joined Take Back the City, a party organised by a group of Londoners who were disillusioned with the existing political parties.
Take Back the City’s manifesto was born out of discussions with community workers, refugees, migrant and community groups and disability groups. The key demands that emerged from the process were a need for rent caps and an end to property speculation in London.
They would like to reclaim empty properties to provide homes for the most vulnerable in our city.
The Take Back the City candidate thinks that being outside the EU would be a greater threat to the UK’s democracy than remaining in.
Gichinga believes staying in the EU would help London fight for a fairer, more democratic city as well as support the country’s diversity of everything from culture to political thought.
Peter Harris – UK Independence Party (UKIP)
The UKIP candidate was born and grew up in Newham. He is now Leader of UKIP in Barking & Dagenham.
Harris was UKIP 2015 general election candidate in the constituency of Dagenham & Rainham, coming second with 30 per cent of the vote.
Community involvement is central to his beliefs and he has held the following positions: President of Barking & Dagenham Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chair of LBBD Skills, Jobs & Enterprise Board, Metropolitan Police Special Constable, Trustee of local community club, Governor of Barking & Dagenham College.
Setting arbitrary house building targets will not solve London’s housing crisis, he says, unless the current unprecedented levels of migration into the capital drop. Immigration is central to his and UKIP’s agenda.
On the European Union, Harris says that leaving is the only way to control immigration, help solve the housing crisis and give people the ability to democratically elect a government to make its own laws.
Unmesh Desai – Labour Party
Unmesh Desai is a Labour Councillor for East Ham in Newham.
Due to his campaign schedule Desai was unavailable for comment. However, he was happy for us to quote from the website of the Labour candidate for London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, which says: “Rents and house prices are rocketing, and the price of travel is going up every year under the Tories. It’s getting so Londoners and their families can’t afford to stay here.
“Housing is the most important issue facing Londoners today. A person living in London on an average wage, paying the average rent, now pays nearly two-thirds of their total income on rent. This cannot go on. This election is a referendum on housing.”
Desai believes Britain should remain in the EU, saying it is good for business.
Rayne Mickail – UK Respect Party (George Galloway)
Rayne Mickail is a Former Business Analyst and Founder of United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD).
Mickail says that the City and East London is home to some of the most deprived council estates in the country, where almost half of young people living in poverty. Few opportunities are available to them, he says, despite the immense Olympic regeneration program.
Equality and social inclusion need to be top of the agenda, he says, and the GLA Member for City and East must take a lead in the local community.
For the Respect candidate there are many reasons to vote ‘Leave’ on the 23rd June: TTIP poses a threat to the NHS and British public services if Britain remains in. Outside of the EU, Britain would have a fair immigration policy and re-orient trade with the East.
Candidates have been listed alphabetically by family name. The Labour and Conservative candidates were invited for interview but were unavailable./ 3 May, 2016