Leader of Richmond Council to make noise if elected Assembly member

The leader of Richmond Council has promised he would make noise at City Hall if elected as the London Assembly member for South West. 

Liberal Democrat candidate, councillor Gareth Roberts, 50, said his outspoken nature would help him hold the future London Mayor to account for their policies and achieve results, claiming: “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. 

Roberts, dubbed the “Twickenham Trump” by some social media users, said: “You need somebody that’s squeaking away, squeaking away, saying what about south west London? What about Hounslow? What about Richmond

“I’m a noisy little sod and if I don’t like the look of things or if people bring something to my attention, I will speak out on issues.

“Previous mayors have thought that London ends at Zone 3 and it doesn’t, so you need somebody at City Hall making the case and, frankly, what we’ve had over the last 21 years is very little of that.

“I’m never far away from Twitter and I do tend to make my opinions fairly clear on various stuff.”

Roberts, who was elected as a councillor in 2010, said his track record on Richmond Council proves he could enact change in the Assembly, citing how he scrapped the requirement for residents on full benefits to pay 15% council tax.

He claimed Richmond Council was now a ‘campaigning council’ on LGBTQ+ rights and on the rights of European citizens.  

If elected, Roberts plans to push the mayor on the issue of Hammersmith Bridge and increasing support for residents on both sides of the bridge, as well as extending the Santander cycle scheme into Kingston and Richmond.

He said the Conservative’s three-point plan for Hammersmith Bridge was ‘pure fantasy’ and ‘absolute poppycock’.  

Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey promised to build a temporary road crossing, make sure it had no tolls and use his ‘London Infrastructure Bank’ to fund the main structure.

Roberts said: “He is claiming he will give a return on the investment to the people who invest in his London Infrastructure Bank but, if there aren’t going to be any tolls on the bridge, where’s the money going to come from?”  

The South West candidate was cautious about making any firm promises about what he would achieve at City Hall.

He said: “I think anyone who can say ‘I will make this happen’ is probably telling you a lie because you don’t get given a lamp that you rub and the genie will pop out and do your bidding.”

It was Roberts’s online presence on the community website Hampton Online that first caught the attention of the local Liberal Democrats, who recruited him after reading his posts.

But he was exposed to politics long before becoming a councillor as his father was deputy leader of Derby City Council. 

Roberts said: “Early visits to London weren’t to go to the zoo, they were to go to anti-Thatcher marches.”

He described how his father, who was ‘very Labour’ and who called people ‘comrade’ and ‘brother’, was initially ‘livid’ about his son standing as a Liberal Democrat councillor.  

When Roberts explained to him there was no chance of a Labour candidate being elected in Hampton, he said his father ‘went away and kicked something around in the garden’.

Roberts added: “He came back and said ‘So you’re going to stop the Tories? I suppose I better keep talking to you.’”

As a keen cyclist, Roberts is a particular champion of his party’s ‘free bike hire on Sundays’ policy.

He also supports the Liberal Democrat promise of a ‘flexible travel card’ for a four-day pass rather than the current seven-day pass.

He said: “I’m not a big fan of forcing people to abandon their cars.

“It’s the old expression ‘you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’.

“It’s more about this business of encouraging people not to travel everywhere by car because that’s what we need to achieve.”

The London Assembly elections will be held on 6 May. 

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