By Andrew Child, Green Party
A homemade poster above a neighbour’s door reads “Brixton people know what Brixton needs”. That sums up my approach to local politics.
Originally from north Lincolnshire I’ve lived in Brixton Hill Ward for the last 12 years. My concerns are the community’s concerns.
That’s why I helped start the campaign to save the George IV pub from the clutches of Tesco.
Having spent the past decade as a journalist at the Financial Times, I understand better than most the devastating effect that the dominance of big supermarkets can have on small local businesses.
I’ve also witnessed the catastrophic loss of community pubs in Brixton in recent years.
For those reasons, I’m saying enough is enough. No more Tescos. But despite another bad experience with Tesco over the Streatham Hub development, the supermarket is now talked about as a partner for an ill-advised multi-million pound redevelopment of the Town Hall.
As a local I’m also supporting the residents of Cressingham Gardens – a leafy and much loved housing estate under threat of demolition by the council. The expert opinion says it makes more sense to refurbish. The same goes for proposals to knock down Brixton Rec.
I feel very privileged to live in Brixton and to be able to enjoy all that it offers. The popular indoor market in particular has undergone an incredible transformation in recent times. But that is also now under threat from greedy landlords looking to hike rents by more than 20 per cent. That is unacceptable and I pledge to do all I can to help.
While I will always try to do my best for local people I can’t promise you’ll always find me on the winning side. I was however proud to support a recent successful campaign to stop a lap-dancing club opening on Brixton Road.
Moving forward I’d like to work with members of Lambeth SOS who are doing their level-best to defend vital services, such as libraries and One O’Clock Clubs, from Labour’s axe.
It really annoys me that the Labour council constantly boasts about freezing Council Tax, while refusing to acknowledge the affect of its cuts, which hit the poorest hardest. This is so unfair: the poor and most vulnerable had nothing to do with the Financial Crisis. The same cannot be said of Labour, which allowed the banks to run amok when in government.
That’s why I’m asking what good another Labour councillor will do in Lambeth and Brixton Hill. Lambeth Council is in desperate need of an effective opposition, because it’s no longer listening to people. Now, you may ask: how can one Green councillor make a difference? Well, the last time we had a Green on the council we forced it to adopt the Living Wage – the amount needed to cover basic needs like decent housing and food. The next step is to get Labour to agree a Wage Ratio to limit the gap between pay at the very top and the very bottom. It means if the council wants to reward its fat cats it will also have to increase wages for the lowest paid.
Lambeth Council is hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It spends taxpayers’ money on expensive political advertising to try to avoid blame for the cuts. It redefines potholes to avoid carrying out vital road repairs. It burns all our rubbish and calls it “recycling”. It has failed to provide the community-lead services it promised at the launch of the Cooperative Council two years ago. I want to help create some better headlines.