Lambeth is well known as a Labour stronghold but candidates, from protesters inspired by library closures to veteran contenders running two campaigns simultaneously, are challenging their dominance.
Meet the Gipsy Hill ward councillor candidates:
Steve Nally – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
‘Anti-austerity and anti-establishment’
The TUSC candidate wants to fight against the council’s austerity measures and provide a voice for Lambeth residents.
Steve Nally, who has lived in Lambeth all his life, has run a campaign against cuts in which he proposes building more affordable housing and using Britain’s wealth to maintain and develop its services.
Mr Nally said: “We have to fight back for people and alongside people because there are a lot of good things in Lambeth that are worth defending still.”
He added: “That’s why we stand in elections.
“We know we may not win but we get the argument on the agenda about the cuts and the austerity.
“We’re not an establishment party.”
He has been involved in protests against the closure of the South Lambeth Library and the redevelopment of the Central Hill Estate and intends to continue representing those affected if elected.
He pinpointed Lambeth’s liveliness and community spirit as important characteristics and believes the borough needs more facilities to reflect that.
“We can all live within a community but if there’s no libraries or sports centres or swimming clubs or youth clubs or day centres for the elderly then really what kind of community is it?,” he said.
“It’s a sterile community.”
Leslie Maruziva – Conservatives
‘Regeneration and more consultation’
Fighting against poor council consultation with residents and lack of considered regeneration in Lambeth are this Conservative candidate’s main policies.
Leslie Maruziva, of Streatham, is standing for his first by-election having previously not been particularly involved in politics.
He said: “Frustration had built over the years from Lambeth. They just don’t know how to consult and engage the community in a positive way.
“You keep asking yourself, why are they doing this?
“And I think you could say I am one of these accidental politicians who has got into it just to make a difference really.
“The more I have got involved in this the more I have realized what a cock-up Lambeth has got us into.”
Mr Maruziva has a career in regeneration in which he advises local authorities, this resulted in schemes such as the identification of £3.5 billion worth of regeneration in Croydon.
On the Central Hill Estate regeneration he said: “These are people’s homes we’re talking about.
“You’re talking about people who have lived in some of these flats for 20, 30, 40, 50 years and suddenly their terms are being changed and they’re being turfed out.”
To prove his point, Mr Maruziva created an alternative Lambeth budget with fellow Conservatives that they claimed saved the borough £20 million while keeping all the services it needed.
Robin Lambert – Independent
Robin Lambert, originally from Leicester, couldn’t help but begin his interview by comparing himself to the recent underdog success of the city’s football team.
He said: ““I saw the people in power. They didn’t seem to be relating to people like me.
“The thing about being an independent is you’re meant to be balanced without being wishy-washy.
“You have to have some certain, definite policies because that’s what people are voting for – to take those decisions.
“They may not be pleased about it but that is it.”
He fears that Central Hill Estate will face the same fate as its counterparts in Elephant and Castle where council housing was knocked down to be replaced by more expensive buildings.
He suggests refurbishing disused houses which would be safeguarded from being sold for 10 years or more in order to preserve the area’s social fabric.
The 64-year-old believes he is the oldest candidate at the election but states that his political experience is useful having run for elections in Thurlow Park, Knights Hill, Ealing and Hendon before.
He joked: “I won’t hold my opponents’ youth and inexperience against them.”
The pro-Brexit campaigner ran for UKIP last year but left having been unsatisfied with their candidate selection policy.
Pete Elliot – Green Party
‘People are taking charge themselves’
An avid ultra marathon runner, who was at the heart of demonstrations again the closure of Carnegie Library and he spent 10 days in the building, was convinced to stand for the Green Party.
Pete Elliot, who lives in Stockwell, works as an independent IT contractor, has lambasted Lambeth Council for ‘diabolic mismanagement’.
He said: “I’m not a political animal.
“I’m someone who’s been watching what’s going on at Lambeth town hall in the last couple of years and I just have to do something to change it.”
He criticised their current plans for the library as insufficient due to unclear floor plans and poor financial modeling.
Mr Elliot said: “Part of the reason I am part of the Green party is because I want whatever we’re doing to be sustainable.”
He said that redevelopment of Central Hill Estate is unnecessary and the demolishment due to mould was ‘inexcusable’ and returning residents would face higher rent and council tax.
He said: “A lot of the culture is getting eroded away by social cleansing and by cleansing these estates.”
Mr Elliot also attacked the money spent on Labour councilors’ allowances and the council’s focus on Brixton.
He said: “There’s a lot of localism going on – people taking charge themselves.”
Elizabeth Jones – UKIP
‘Brexit would have more impact than by-election’
Elizabeth Jones, who is also running in the Tooting by-election, categorises herself as a seasoned campaigner who objected to military intervention in Syria, the congestion charge and supports Brexit.
She said: “I am offering people a bit of choice – the freedom from Labour’s narrow political diktats, and the freedom to choose Britain’s interests above those of the unelected bureaucracy of the EU.”
Having recently been elected onto UKIP’s top decision-making body Ms Jones says Brexit will have far more impact on people’s lives in Gipsy Hill than a by-election.
However, she denies her polices are not only EU-orientated, as Brixton Buzz recently claimed.
She said: “Brixton Buzz coverage was so slanted, scant and inaccurate I would say it bordered on being sexist and revealed a crass and obvious bias against UKIP and Brexit.
“I was the only woman but does that mean I have to accept not being listened to or reported accurately?”
Ms Jones is against Lambeth councillors receiving a minimum allowance of £10,597 which she has calculated costs £1.1m every year, while Lambeth’s total library budget is £1.7m.
She said: “We must also put a stop to the profligate waste of hard-pressed people’s tax money on huge pay deals for Labour Lambeth’s obscenely overpaid council executives and profligate PR advertising whilst essential services are neglected.”
Featured picture courtesy of FutUndBeidl, with thanks
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