As part of Eastlondonlines’ build-up to the general election on June 8, we spoke to Hackney North and Shoreditch’s Liberal Democrat candidate Joe Richards and the Green Party candidate Alastair Binnie-Lubbock.
They told us their plans to tackle the issues facing the area and explained how they are connected to the constituency.
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Q: Are you a Hackney Resident?
A: Alastair Binnie-Lubbock, Green Party: “Yes, I have been a resident of Hackney North since I was born. I went to Bethnal primary school and did some community college courses at Hackney Community College.”
Joe Richards, Liberal Democrats: “I currently live in the Hackney Central Ward, a short walk from the Hackney North boundary. As a renter living in London for over 10 years, I have lived in Hackney North (Stoke Newington) […] and boroughs in the South, almost always around Hackney.”
Q: With Hackney schools set to lose a percentage of their funding by 2020 how would you tackle the challenges and cuts facing education in Hackney North?
AB-L: “Scrap university tuition fees and invest £1.5bn extra a year in further education. I have attended recent schools cuts meetings and would take a lead from parents, teachers and support staff and advocate a complete reversal of these ideological cuts.”
JR: “The cuts to schools are essentially a two-pronged attack on the state school system. The 12 per cent real term cuts to budgets coupled with the proposed funding formula changes will see a £23m cut to Hackney schools by 2019. That amounts to a cut of £824 per pupil.
“Our manifesto pledge is to reverse cuts to school and college budgets. This is an investment nationally of £7bn, which would be an extra £61.8m for Hackney schools over the next parliament.”
Q: On Sunday May 7 there was a large anti knife crime protest in Hackney. Thousands attended including the families of knife crime victims. How would you help tackle the issue of knife crime in the constituency?
AB-L: “I attended the march and applaud Diane Abbott’s attempt to raise the need for more and better community policing.
“I would work with the police to increase community policing that works with the community on a very grass roots level and try to increase the trust between the community and the police.”
JR: “I attended the knife crime march and my heart goes out to the victims and families of victims affected by violent crime. I’d like to thank the organisers, Enough is Enough, for putting on this march. We really have to speak out against this awful situation.
“The Liberal Democrats would campaign to protect police budgets and make sure we have the police numbers to tackle the serious issues we have in Hackney.”
Q: Homelessness and displacement have become a large issue facing Hackney North. As of February, there were around 2,850 Hackney families living in temporary accommodation. What can be done to help the homeless and displaced in the constituency?
AB-L: “On the crucial issue of homelessness, the Green Party strongly believes in tackling both homelessness and rough sleeping, and investing in mental health services.”
JR: “Many families live in temporary accommodation for years due to the housing shortage in Hackney.
“We are campaigning to make sure all new developments have a minimum of 50 per cent affordable housing tenure. We want to see a local housing developer in Hackney who would build proper council homes and ensure that residents are put back in control […] so we don’t just build homes but thriving inclusive communities.”
Q: In a borough where 78.5 per cent of the turnout voted to remain in the European Union, how would you be able to convey to parliament the views of the constituents, including the 21.5 per cent who voted to leave, over the coming months and years of Brexit?
AB-L: “I would advocate the retention of freedom of movement as a right that has been of massive benefit to our citizens, especially our students who have benefited from language learning opportunities. I would also pressure the government to uphold its commitments to refugees in the face of the unprecedented humanitarian crisis we face, in the first instance reversing the decision to abandon child refugees to their fate.
“We were sold Brexit on the basis of lots of untruths so we should be able to decide whether we want to remain in the EU once we have the facts of any potential deal on the table.”
JR: “I think the main issue here is that Brexit, particularly the divisive hard Brexit that the Tories are leading us towards, would be massively damaging to Hackney.
“Hackney’s economy is driven by micro businesses with three to five employers depending on European workers. Having free access to EU workers is vital to those companies.
“Hackney was the second most Remain area in the EU referendum and people in the borough overwhelmingly voted to remain in an open, tolerant nation within the EU. There were some who voted leave and of course, as a democrat, I respect their opinion and the vote they cast in the referendum.”
For more information on Alastair Binnie-Lubbock and Joe Richards and their respective parties, visit their websites and twitter pages.
Alastair Binnie-Lubbock: @alastairis; https://hackney.greenparty.org.uk/yourcandidates/
Joe Richards: @joerichards; http://www.libdems.org.uk/joe_richards
The General Election is on June 8. ELL encourages you to register to vote before May 22 at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote