Labour win Coldharbour ward by‑election

Written by on 14 September, 2018 in Council, News - 1 Comment
Celebrating: (l-r) Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich & West Norwood; Coldharbour ward councillor Donatus Anyanwu; Scarlett O'Hara; and Coldharbour councillor Emma Nye

Celebrating: (l-r) Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich & West Norwood; Coldharbour ward councillor Donatus Anyanwu; Scarlett O’Hara; and Coldharbour councillor Emma Nye

Labour candidate Scarlett O’Hara last night (13 September) held a Coldharbour ward council seat for her party in a Brixton by-election.

But Green Party candidate Michael Groce added a significant number of votes to those he received at the full council elections in May this year on a turnout of just under 25%. He received 912 in the by-election compared to 761 in May.

O’Hara has lived in Coldharbour for 30 years and is a former NHS employee who worked as a psychotherapist at Guy’s hospital. She now works part-time as a senior editor for the Dorling Kindersley publishing company.

“I grew up in council housing, and my mum worked for a trade union,” she said, promising to work hard “to protect the NHS, kick out the Tories, and stop a hard Brexit.”

She says her mother gave Labour values. “She worked for the GMB union and taught me the importance of unions and the labour movement. When my father left, we lost our home, and were re-housed by the council. I know how it feels to be vulnerable and to need a Labour council on your side.

“I’ve been active locally in our area for a long time, working with our local councillors and speaking with residents in Angell Town, Loughborough Junction and on the Moorlands estate.”

She says she has learned “how valuable it is to really listen to residents and hear their views”.

“I’m a proud trade unionist,” she says, “and I support the Ritzy workers’ campaign for the London Living Wage. I’ve joined the picket line and encouraged members to use other cinemas.”

She acknowledges that Coldharbour has “some serious issues” and is one of the most deprived wards in the country.

Green candidate Michael Groce won nearly a third of the votes cast (31%) – a rise of 15% compared to the May vote.

The other parties’ vote shares all fell, Labour by 6%, Lib Dems by 1%, and the Conservatives by 2%.

Green Party national co-leader Jonathan Bartley, who is also leader of the Green group on Lambeth council, said Greens were now the alternative to Labour in Lambeth.

Michael Groce said he was humbled by the support shown to him by his community.

“Brixton has sent a warning call to Labour in Lambeth,” he said. “As our area undergoes huge change, the experience of our communities must be heard and our voices must not be silenced.

“Our votes can no longer be taken for granted and I will continue to work hard and speak up for people who are being left behind.”

The balance of parties on the council remains as it was before the by-election required by the death of Labour councillor Matt Parr, with one Conservative, five Greens and 57 Labour members.


CandidatePartyVotePercentage of vote
Scarlett O’HaraLabour173958
Michael GroceGreen91231
Doug BuistLiberal Democrats1485
Yvonne Stewart-WilliamsConservative1194
Sian FogdenWomen’s Equality472
Robert StephensonUKIP211


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  1. Lambeth by election: Labour's easy win in Brixton's Coldharbour ward - OnLondon

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