Tooting market in south west London

Leading candidates for Tooting Broadway councillor by-election

A by-election will take place in Tooting Broadway later this month after the incumbent councillor stood down in November.

The by-election for the Wandsworth Council ward is scheduled for Thursday 18th January after former Labour councillor Kate Forbes stood down to start a role working for London Mayor Sadiq Khan at City Hall.

Labour has fielded Sean Lawless to represent the ward, who is the current Head of Office for Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan.

The Conservatives put forward Otto Jacobsson, the Chief Financial Officer of YAP Global, a PR and communications firm that works with crypto, blockchain and fintech clients.

The Liberal Democrats have nominated Haren Thillainathan and the Green Party is also running a candidate.

The main policy points of Lawless and Jacobsson concern reducing crime and making the ward cleaner for residents.

Sean Lawless – Labour candidate

Lawless said: “My main aim is to make Tooting safer, cleaner and greener and I think I’m well positioned, as someone who already worked closely with Rosena and already works closely with the council, to better achieve that.

The campaign manager for Allin-Khan’s unsuccessful run for Labour Deputy Leader in 2020 was born on a council estate in Roehampton.

He said: “I know the difference between living under Tory control, whether that be a Tory council or a Tory government, and I know the difference that a Labour council or a Labour government can make.”

The Labour candidate blames the main issues the ward experiences on chronic underinvestment over years Wandsworth Council was Conservative led, between 1978 and 2022.

He claimed that in this period for every five pounds spent around Putney Town Centre or the area surrounding Clapham Junction, just one pound was spent on Tooting.

Labour retook control of the council in 2022 and currently has 35 councillors to the Conservatives 22.

There is one Independent.

Lawless said: “Everyone who you talk to will say that Tooting is a great place to live but it could be so much better, it could be so much nicer.”

Tooting Broadway by-election Labour candidate Sean Lawless with MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan
HEAD OF OFFICE: Sean Lawless with MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan. Image Credit: Tooting Labour

Lawless said Tooting is the current hotspot in Wandsworth for violence against women and girls and is proud of the work he has done with MP Allin-Khan to increase police resources, including securing Tooting its own neighbourhood inspector and two more on the beat officers.

He said: “To get Tooting to where we want it to be in comparison to Putney or Clapham Junction, it’s going to be a marathon and not a sprint.”

Lawless said he is committed to repairing pavements in the ward, wants more trees and planters around Tooting Broadway tube station and aims to reduce the number of bins left outside shops on busy high streets, which cause lots of mess and attract foxes.

“A vote for me means we will get a Tooting that is safer, cleaner and greener and I’m someone who actually has the connections and the willpower and has lived here for quite a while – I was Wandsworth born and bred.

“[I’m] not some Tory candidate who’s just turned up five minutes ago.”

Otto Jacobsson – Conservative candidate

Jacobsson too said he would prioritise tackling crime and keeping the ward clean, if elected.

A Swedish citizen who moved to South London in 2017, he said: “It’s clear that people don’t feel safe and even my wife walking home from the tube station: I feel sometimes I need to go and meet her in the evening, just because she doesn’t feel safe.”

Jacobsson, who currently works with the ward’s Safer Neighbourhood Team, said he was disappointed with the closure of Tooting Police station in 2021 and that residents need clarity on what will happen with the building in the future.

Jacobsson also said he wants to champion green issues by increasing EV charging points and keep the Tooting Broadway streets cleaner by reporting fly tipping effectively and ensuring waste disposal contractors do their jobs correctly.

However, he said he opposes the Mayor’s ULEZ expansion in August 2023, saying he believed not enough consideration was taken for people on low incomes who need cars to drive to work.

Tooting by-election Conservative candidate Otto Jacobsson on Hazelhurst Road
CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE: Otto Jacobsson on the streets of Tooting. Image Credit: Harry Todd

The expectant father also said he wants to maintain a good standard of nursery provision and schooling for children in Tooting Broadway.

He said his experience running a business and working in finance sets him apart from Lawless and this experience would help him as a councillor: “Sean, I’m sure, is a great guy but he works for a politician.

“He is a political careerist, and he works for Labour whereas I work for the residents in Tooting Broadway.”

He has spent time canvassing the ward and has spoken to residents of the Hazelhurst council estate who he claimed were being failed by the current Labour councillors as they could not say the last time they saw their representatives.

He said: “The issues that the residents there are describing are not ideological, they’re not super complex, but they need someone to be there and listen to them, and [who can] then take it back to the council.”

He is not daunted by the prospect of being the only Conservative councillor alongside the two incumbent Labour representatives: “It seems to be like [residents are] being taken for granted by Labour, and, you know, a little bit of competition, that’s a good thing.”

Main image Credit: Rosabel Crean

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