Battersea Green candidate commits to “reinvent democracy” at Battersea People’s Assembly

The Battersea Green Party and Reform candidates attended an assembly with Battersea local residents to talk about issues the community is facing last Wednesday.

The Time to Assemble campaign is a UK-wide project that aims to create community meet-ups for residents to think and talk about the challenges they are facing.

Joe Taylor, Green Battersea candidate, said: “I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re not going to get the changes we need in society through our existing systems.

“I really want to learn about and experiment with assemblies as an alternative way of organising ourselves. But what I’ve learned about assemblies so far is, because it’s about bringing people together and different community groups being represented and getting to know each other, they normally decide progressive, pro-social things.

“That’s why I feel positive about the outcomes today.”

One of the campaign aims is to establish the House of People to scrutinize the work of parliament.

Lu Curtis, Wandsworth resident and Assembly facilitator, said: “We’re hoping to meet the community and find out what the priorities are for this community. 

“What this community needs, as opposed to what people think this community needs.

“Trying to empower the people so that they actually have a say in matters that matter to them.”

In the assembly, residents gathered in small groups where they discussed their issues with an assembly facilitator who later summarised and voiced their opinions.

The summarised issues were later categorized, and residents were asked to create a coloured dot for the three most prominent issues.

Residents united on housing, maintenance, and lack of parent/family support as the three priority issues facing the community.

Residents spoke about each topic in depth and complained about rundown buildings and abandoned/empty houses that are not being put to good use.

Megan Butler, a local resident, said: “You never used to see homelessness as bad as it is now. I’ve never seen so many homeless people around Clapham Junction.”

Residents spoke about the disparity in the housing prices in the region creating a “big divide in our society” and how some residents have been helping out the homeless and supporting them locally.

They also spoke about the lack of response from the council’s lack of response to maintenance reports with several residents expressing their frustration that they kept being redirected from one person to another.

Residents also complained of a lack of support for parents when it comes to young people and children facilities.

Several other issues such as accessibility, antisocial behaviour, and lack of CCTV were also briefly brought up.

Wandsworth Council have refused to respond due to pre-election guidelines.

Some of the recent council projects have been focused on e-bike parking, food waste trash bins, and over 1,000 new council housing.

The council has also recently invested in CCTV to increase the safety of residents and aid the police when necessary and tackle crime.

There were no other MP candidates present at the meeting and the Green candidate is the only candidate who has committed to the outcomes of the meeting.

Barry Edward, Reform UK Battersea candidate, said: “I always commit to the commitment that I have.

“So if people commit to me, I’m 100% every single day of the week.

“There’s no point in me saying I’m going to commit to something if the community doesn’t want to commit to a better future for itself.”

On 24 May 2023, the council committed to combating damp and mould and to ending rough sleeping by 2030.

After Tom Copley, London’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, visited Wandsworth in May, he said: “No one should have to live in a damp or mouldy home, and it was really encouraging to see ambitious steps being taken to tackle this issue which causes misery and illness for many tenants.

“The rise we have seen in rough sleeping across the capital is alarming and we need to work together on bold new ideas that will support the Mayor to deliver his manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping by 2030, as we work to build a fairer and better London for everyone.”

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