How to vote for my assembly member and what do they do?

News Desk (05 May, 2021)

Like with the mayoral candidates we have gave the six assembly member candidates the same opportunity to answer questions

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In London elections (Thursday May 6th)  as well as voting for the Mayor of London you will be voting for your assembly member to represent you at City Hall and to hold the mayor to account.

The previous assembly member, Labour’s Florence Eshalomi, stood down from this election after being elected as the MP for Vauxhall, so whoever wins will be new to the job.

The London Assembly is made up of 25 members in total – fourteen of these members are elected directly via their constituents – the constituency for this area takes in all of Southwark and Lambeth. There are six candidates standing, as outlined in these pages, and you simply vote for the person you want.

The other eleven members in the assembly represent London as a whole and a separate ballot paper is provided for you to vote for the one party or candidate you would like to see represented at the assembly.

In last week’s News we profiled all twenty candidates standing for mayor – if you missed it you can  click on the links at the bottom of this article to still read it. Like with the mayoral candidates we have gave the six assembly member candidates the same opportunity to answer questions. All were given days to reply and four did not  – we have tried to highlight where they stand on these issues.

 

claire sheppard,  green

What do you currently do for a living?

I run a market research company, specialising in finding and filming people for research projects. I find people to talk to brands, charities and organisations so they can better understand their world. In the last year I’ve worked on projects around food poverty, HIV testing, modern slavery and the feelings you get from driving, to name a few.

I’m also a passionate community and environmental activist but I don’t get paid for that!

 

What is your connection to Southwark and Lambeth?

I’ve lived in Southwark all my adult life and I’ve been running my business from SE15 for 9 years, from home and from the Bussey building. My husband runs Shep Sports Massage from Peckham’s Holdron’s Arcade. We have a son who is 5 and is at school in Nunhead. I help run the amazing Nunhead Rocks FB group and I co-founded Nunhead Knocks, Covid support group last year.

 

Do you live in the area, and if so, how long have you lived here?

For more than 20 years mostly around Peckham and Nunhead, it’s the best place in the world to live in my opinion.

 

How many homes would you like to see built in Southwark and Lambeth, and what are your views on Southwark’s infill building programme?

There has been a net loss of social housing in our borough. As an Assembly member, Sian Berry has forced the issue of ballots for residents and as Mayor she’d create a People’s Land Commission, so communities not corporations, decide about housing, green space or community space. Greens also propose using unspent grant money to buy back housing for those who need it most.

I support community groups like Save Priory Court and Save Brenchley Gardens in their efforts to protect their green spaces from infill. Since Covid, people who live in flats, like me, need community space more than ever. I don’t think infilling should happen when communities reject it.

 

What in your role as Assembly Member do you believe you could do to help tackle knife crime alongside police, the local council and the mayor, whichever party they may be from?

Political parties should work together for the greater good on all issues. I’m proud of our manifesto promise to set a zero target for murders in London within 10 years, but knife crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We need to look at the issue holistically and make our society better for everyone.

Sian Berry has won funding to stop the closure of over 100 youth centres. We need to stop treating our youth as a problem and start offering solutions. Groups like the incredible Westminster House Youth Club in Nunhead need more funding and this would make London a safer place for everyone.

 

Where do you stand on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and is it possible to satisfy both camps?

As a Green I support making it easier to get around London without making our already dangerously polluted air worse. However, it’s clear that schemes such as LTN’s have to be planned with communities, not just imposed upon them. Communities know what they want and need. I have offered support to those that oppose certain LTNs who have been doxxed and harassed by pro LTN campaigners and vice versa. Our Green policy to extend the ULEZ and make plans for fairer, smart road charging seems to be the fresh approach needed. In a climate emergency, we need to work together to find a way through and not divide communities in the process.

 

Given the halt to the Bakerloo Line extension, what new transport would you want to see introduced to Southwark without government investment?

Like many in Southwark I was incredibly disappointed to see the Bakerloo extension halted; tube services are geographically and financially out of reach of too many people. We need more not fewer ways for Southwark folk to get around without a car. A Green Mayor would improve bus services in the short term and get projects like the Bakerloo extension and the cancelled Cross River Tram back on the table. It can’t come soon enough.

 

Which areas in Southwark and Lambeth do you believe need most investment to improve the situation for small businesses post-pandemic?

Both my husband and I are small business owners, so I speak from personal experience. People think that Big Business is important, but it’s small businesses that keep London going. In Lambeth I’m concerned about the Hondo Tower plans and I support the coalition of small businesses and community campaigners that oppose it. In the “regeneration” of Elephant and Castle small businesses have been ridden roughshod by developers and the council.

Sian Berry has great plans to ensure small businesses survive the ongoing pandemic by focusing on the wants and needs of businesses and residents, not whoever has the most money to buy influence.

 

Marina ahmad,  labour

What do you currently do for a living?

Before I began campaigning as the Labour & Co-op London Assembly candidate for Lambeth and Southwark, I was a Bromley Labour councillor representing Crystal Palace ward and the borough spokesperson for education. I am also chair of the GMB Southern Region Race Network.  Prior to that, I have worked in the public sector, the NHS, Save the Children in Bangladesh on a street children’s project and then at a community hospital. I was the founder and Director of Race on the Agenda and am also a parenting facilitator for EPEC working with Early Years. I trained as a barrister and worked for the Crown Prosecution Service as well.

 

What is your connection to Southwark and Lambeth?

I’ve lived in South London for most of my adult life and lived in Brixton for a number of years.  As a Councillor for Crystal Palace ward, I have been working right next door to Lambeth and Southwark for the last few years and have dealt with a lot of cross borough issues. I was inspired by the sense of community during the pandemic and want to champion our fantastic local area as part of the GLA.

 

Do you live in the area, and if so, how long have you lived here?

I lived in Brixton for a number of years and now live next door in Bromley, where as a Crystal Palace councillor I led on education issues such as race and secondary school exclusions.

 

How many homes would you like to see built in Southwark and Lambeth, and what are your views on Southwark’s infill building programme?

Sadiq has a plan. He’ll build 10,000 new council homes, campaign for the introduction of rent controls and explore the creation of a new ‘right to buy back’ fund, supporting councils to purchase homes previously sold through the right to buy. Sadiq has hit every single housing target agreed with the Government, starting work on record numbers of new genuinely affordable homes including more new council homes last year than in any year since 1983. He is on track to start 116,000 genuinely affordable homes by March 2023.

But the Government need to help as well. I’ll help campaign for the Government to give both Sadiq Khan and local councils more cash to build. City Hall can only do so much and until the Government prioritises working people’s needs on housing we will never fix the crisis.

 

What in your role as Assembly Member do you believe you could do to help tackle knife crime alongside police, the local council and the mayor, whichever party they may be from?

The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems, like inequality, poverty, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people. As the Labour spokesperson for education on Bromley Council and having worked to improve the lives of children in Bangladesh, I have seen first-hand how education and opportunities can change a young person’s life. To tackle knife crime, I want better provisions for young people and a reduction in school exclusions. If elected, I will work to achieve better engagement with local organisations, schools and families in turning young people away from violent crime.

I will encourage schemes that support young people like Sadiq Khan’s Young Londoners Fund, as well as his commitment to put more than 1,000 extra police officers on the streets.

I will work with Sadiq and will also make my voice heard on the assembly. The VRU has done some amazing work to tackle violence at its source but we can’t stop there. I want to work with Sadiq on this issue but if elected, I won’t hold back in raising my constituents’ concerns if the progress we make begins to stop.

 

Where do you stand on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and is it possible to satisfy both camps?

I don’t think there are two camps. Polling shows that LTNs are overwhelmingly popular but if you took notice of the media coverage it certainly doesn’t seem that way. LTNs I feel are on balance are needed but councils should be honest with the public about where these schemes have sometimes gone wrong and where we haven’t quite brought people with us.

 

Given the halt to the Bakerloo Line extension, what new transport would you want to see introduced to Southwark without government investment?

Well, I know it’s paused but I do think the Bakerloo line extension represents the best route forward for Southwark. Increasing connectivity across South London remains desperately needed despite the improvements made by TfL over the past 5 years. A new station at Surrey Canal Road would also be beneficial for people living in South Bermondsey who at present only have the one route into central London.

To make sure we have a green recovery after the pandemic I would want to make sure we maintain and increase the amount of cycle lanes we have in Southwark. It’s so important that we continue to build on the ULEZ which has cut toxic air by a third. Sadiq has been clear that as we emerge from the pandemic we absolutely must prioritise tackling climate change.

 

Which areas in Southwark and Lambeth do you believe need most investment to improve the situation for small businesses post-pandemic?

Businesses in Southwark and Lambeth demonstrate the entrepreneurship, drive and creativity that for me sums up the energy of London. I know how difficult the pandemic has been for them and that’s why Sadiq’s mantra if re-elected is ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’. Sadiq has been the most pro-business Mayor we’ve ever had, and he is going to continue standing up for London businesses. I will work with Sadiq in City Hall to rebuild local businesses and make London a better city than it was before the pandemic.

I will join Sadiq in campaigning to make sure the Tories do not usher in a new era of cuts for investment and we can see a green recovery which puts jobs first.

 

Other London Assembly member candidates

The following London Assembly candidates did not provide answers to our questions, so we have written short profiles based on publicly available information.

Hannah Ginnett, Conservatives

Hannah lives in South Bermondsey. She grew up in Darlington in County Durham and moved to London in 2006 after university. She has worked in project management, finance and accounting.

She has previously stood unsuccessfully as a council candidate in the London Bridge and West Bermondsey and Surrey Docks wards of Southwark in 2018, as well as Clapham Town in Lambeth in 2014.

Alongside Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, Ginnett backs more housebuilding. She also would support higher police numbers with the aim of cutting crime.

 

Florence Cyrot, Liberal Democrats

Originally from France, Florence Cyrot has lived in London for 20 years and now lives in Brixton. She studied in London and now works in higher education.

Cyrot is a vocal campaigner in favour of the European Union. She fought to keep Britain in Europe in the lead-up to the 2016 referendum. She joined the Lib Dems afterwards, swayed by its pro-EU stance. Cyrot says she is concerned about the impact of Brexit on small businesses. Another key area for her is to improve the mental health of young people and fight knife crime.

 

April Ashley, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition

April Ashley is a long-term trade union campaigner and activist on other social issues. She said in a campaign leaflet that she has organised “campaigns against job cuts, attacks on terms and conditions, and national campaigns on pensions pay” for 20 years.

Ashley took part in last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. She added: “We have to make a stand against the billionaires and millionaires who scapegoat immigrants and whip up racism to serve their own needs.”

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was founded in 2010 and aims to get trade union officials elected to public office. It said a few of its candidates have been elected to local councils.

 

John Cronin, Reform UK Party

John Cronin has spoken out against low traffic neighbourhoods, in favour of reforming local democracy and supporting business owners in a campaign video with Brexit campaigner and fellow Reform UK party member Baroness Claire Fox

Reform UK was founded in 2018 as the Brexit Party. It was rebranded in January this year after the UK left the EU. One of the party’s signature policies has been opposition to Covid-19 lockdowns.

_____________________________________________________________________________

On Thursday May 6 you will also be voting for the next Mayor of London.

This election, which was postponed for a year because of the pandemic, has seen more mayoral candidates than ever before. Twenty have stood, including the current Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Voters will be given a pink ballot paper on May 6 with the option of selecting two of their preferred candidates.

Different to General Elections, the London Mayor election uses a proportional representation voting system called the supplementary vote. This involves putting an X in column A for your first choice and an X in column B for your second.

This does not reduce the chances of your first choice being successful, but rather ensures all votes matter as they are counted.

We posed the same five questions on housing, crime, environment, transport and the economy, to ensure that you can see in a balanced way where each candidate stands on these key issues.

Here are the answers on:

HOUSING

CRIME

ENVIRONMENT

THE ECONOMY

TRANSPORT

The four candidates who did not respond to our questions

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