Lawyer makes political debut hoping to unseat Lambeth and Southwark’s veteran Labour GLA member

A lawyer is taking his first steps into a political career as he stands as the Conservative candidate for the Lambeth and Southwark GLA seat.

Robert Flint is targeting a blue win for the first time in area’s history to take the seat from Labour’s Valerie Shawcross who has it since the GLA’s inception.

He suggests that Labour’s dominance, they won 52.8% of the vote in the last election, amounts to a ‘fiefdom’ and hopes to capitalise on the party’s current split as members continue with in-fighting and public spats.

As both a former special constable and housing advisor at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Mr Flint is focusing on crime and, of course, housing.

Stop and search remains a ‘delicate’ issue and although he said it is difficult to maintain relations when there is a perception that police officers disproportionately target ethnic minorities but notes things have changed since stop and search rules were tightened.

He said: “I think what the flip side of that is that knife crime has gone up because people feel they can hold knives and not be searched, what we need to have is stop and search based on police intelligence gained from the community.”

Housing is another key issue for Mr Flint who wants better rapport with developers, citing the Aylesbury and Heygate estates as examples of the area’s need to provide more social and affordable houses.

His policies include putting pressure on councils to list Brownfield land and to make planning more simple to allow smaller developers to take on projects, which would allow for affordability targets to be met more regularly.

He says the Labour’s complacency in the area has led to many of the current problems faced, including the protests around Carnegie Library in Herne Hill.

Mr Flint is keen to see the libraries stay as such and not turn into gyms, citing the alternative proposal by the head of library services Susannah Barnes.

He said: “Lambeth doesn’t have a business plan for keeping them open.”

He believes he has the requisite skills for the role, having previously lobbied for similar projects in Leicestershire while working at the House of Commons

While Mr Flint is in favour of the proposed pedestrian and a cycle bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf he is also vocally in favour of the Garden Bridge.

He suggests that the project has captured the imagination of Londoners and could be a very popular attraction.

His policy expectation is to aim for double the number of cycling journeys in London over the next five years, highlighting that a lack of alternative public transport is often what forces people into cars.

Though the Elephant and Castle roundabout is a ‘nightmare’, in his eyes he stresses the need to balance the interests of all parties using the road and surrounding area to avoid marginalising different types of travellers.

Lambeth and Southwark could be a key borough in the Conservatives attempts to gain any kind of majority in the GLA following the election, with Mr Flint putting all his time and effort into unseating the current Labour incumbent.

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