Parties vie for power in Brockley by-election


Pic: Paul Albertella

Pic: Paul Albertella

Brockley voters will go to the ballot boxes for a by-election on October 13 triggered by the resignation of a Labour councillor last month.

Six parties are fielding candidates in the vote following the departure of Baroness Alicia Kennedy: the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative Party, the Women’s Equality Party, the Labour Party, the Green Party and UKIP.

Last month the Labour party selected Sophie McGeevor to replace Kennedy.

She will stand against a former Goldsmiths student Bobby Dean, who is representing the Liberal Democrats.

He said: “At the moment in politics we’re seeing a divide between liberal parties and nationalist parties.

“There still seems to be a statist approach rather than focusing on the people making good out of situations.”

Dean came to the Brockley area at the age of 18, when studying at the university. He said: “I’m one of those people that really want to get involved and do stuff about issues rather than just talk about it.

“I want to be a voice of opposition. At the moment in Lewisham we have 53 labour councillors and that’s not really making a healthy democracy. Liberal Democrats are the last major opposition in Lewisham.”

Clare Phipps, candidate for the Lewisham Green Party – who have one elected councillor in Brockley –  said: “We’re a radically different party. A lot of the other parties have been buying into a narrative of austerity and it’s really an ideological agenda and that’s something we’re completely are in opposition to.”

Ms Phipps believes in the idea of building up communities and whilst her family has been living in the borough of Lewisham for 150 years, the Green Party candidate wants to scrutinize the current council policies, making sure the council are taking into account and taking action on what was promised to voters.

One plan for the future is “to convince the council to actually do their responsibility and clean up our air.

“There was a legal requirement to clean up the air by 2010 and that still hasn’t happened,” said Phipps.

The first local Women’s Equality Party candidate, Rebecca Manson Jones, said: “We are non-partisan. We will work with any of the other parties to help us achieve our goals.

“We are already bringing in a totally fresh approach which can only be good. Women are 51 per cent of the population and we’re 51 per cent of Lewisham. Everything that we want, actually benefits everybody.”

She added: “For too long, the idea of treating women equally and fairly has been pushed to the bottom of the pile and we just want to bring it up. So everything that we’re looking at is about safety. We want to end violence against women and girls, because even if we did have equal pay or equal gender representation and representation in parliament, equal education and support for parents and carers, if we aren’t safe, none of that really means much.”

Labour’s McGeevor was unavailable for comment but said when selected to run that she was “honoured and humbled”, adding: “I love Brockley, but I know that life is anything but easy for so many of our residents. If elected as councillor I would resist any attempts to academise Lewisham schools, find innovative ways to improve recycling rates in our borough, fight for genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent and raise awareness of the devastating impact of austerity on social care provision.”

The Conservative candidate is Andy Hughes. He told the blog Brockley Central that he would be focusing on transport issues, in particular Southern Rail’s poor track record and the issue of a Bakerloo line extension.

He added: “I want to provide a dissenting voice on the council, to ask difficult questions and hold both the Mayor and Cabinet to account.”

Polling stations in the Brockley area will be open to voters on October 13.

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