Brixton mother aims to be first Nigerian GLA member in race for Lambeth and Southwark seat

A mother who entered politics after facing down bullies and gangs on her estate is running as the Labour GLA candidate for Lambeth and Southwark.

Florence Eshalomi, who was elected to Lambeth Council aged just 25, has previously presided over council decisions as a cabinet member for culture, although elected to the council for three terms she has faced opposition within her own party for being a ‘Blarite’.

High ranking MPs, including Chuka Umunna, have to come her defence and as she aims to be the first Nigerian elected to the GLA crime is high on her agenda as a critical issue.

She said: “We’ve lost over 300 officers which is simply not good enough. I think there are different ways of working, like community policing.”

She proposes holding unscripted public meetings with borough commanders to give people a chance to work with the police and stop and search, though derided in many quarters, is a valid tool for policing as far as Mrs Eshalomi is concerned.

She believes the problems associated with ethnic minorities being disproportionately stopped could be improved through police wearing body cameras, something which could improve accountability.

She sees housing as a key issue and believes that the stance taken by Southwark Council is the best way forward.

The council has starting threatening developers to meet affordability targets or else their viability assessments will become publically available.

She says councils need to push on developers far more and thinks both have a strategic role to play. Partnerships between developers and councils are key to a feasible housing policy and she suggests that putting the onus on developers to meet targets is beneficial for everyone

The Elephant and Castle roundabout is an area that divides opinion in and around the borough. An emphasis on cycling is an important part of the air pollution debate but begs questions about the roles of HGVs and other road vehicles.

For Mrs Eshalomi it’s not as clear cut, stating that something will have to give in terms of HGVs, including access times. She does admit that the issue is complex and notes the concerns of road users as well as cyclists and pedestrians.

The extension of options for people travelling in the borough would alleviate this and she cites the need for greater capacity and improved fares.

Similarly, her opposition to the Garden Bridge is coupled with Sadiq Khan’s manifesto pledge to ensure a cycle/pedestrian bridge is built to the east of Tower Bridge.

The development ties in with the vast increase in residential properties in and around the Canada Water and Surrey Quays areas and would serve commuters in that region well.

She said: “That whole area is going to change, I would want to be making sure we have the transport infrastructure to cope with that. “

Despite her preference for no more public money to be spent on the garden bridge she admits it could become as iconic as the London Eye, but only if it can be accessed by all.

Related Articles