I want to stop estate demolitions across London
Bright Green is offering all the candidates standing to be on the Green Party’s list for the 2024 London Assembly election the opportunity to set out why they are standing and their vision for London. This article is published as part of that series. The full series of articles can be found here.
As someone who accidentally got drawn into politics after overstaying my welcome in a public library by 10 days, being a politician did not come naturally to me. I have worked to make best use of the positions I have found myself in though, as I fight various housing, environmental and social injustices across London.
Professionally, I started out as a 17-year-old apprentice electronics engineer in the military and later shifted towards project, change and strategy management. Currently I organise exercise classes for older people through a charity called Silverfit. I keep fit through football, running marathons and cycling, I also love live music and play the trumpet – rarely and badly.
I became a Green Party member after reading the 2010 General Election manifesto. It was an eye opener for me. I loved that the Green Party uniquely and thoughtfully joined the dots between the different policy areas and there was a real cohesiveness to the manifesto.
Soon after getting involved with Lambeth Green Party in 2014, I helped to develop a successful strategy for Lambeth to grow, and at the 2018 local elections we won 5 council seats and became the main opposition.
Any political awareness I thought I had, was rapidly knocked out of me when I saw how local politics ‘worked’ in Lambeth! Consequently, I am keen to see a programme of political education across London to find ways to encourage people to vote, especially young people and those from more disadvantaged or harder to reach communities who need better representation.
I worked on the 2015 General Election campaign in Vauxhall with Gulnar Hasnain, and we achieved a 3rd place beating the Lib Dems. I campaigned against ‘regeneration’ in Lambeth and Southwark with Rashid Nix during the 2016 Mayoral elections where Sian Berry also campaigned very hard with us against housing demolitions and library closures.
It was the housing and library campaigns in Lambeth that really fired me up to become active. After occupying the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill for 10 days, I stood in the 2016 Gipsy Hill by election which we lost by just 36 votes. I then moved from Brixton to the Central Hill Estate. Here I was elected as a councillor from 2018 to 2022 and have been working to stop estate demolitions and environmental destruction, while supporting residents ever since.
In 2018 Lambeth had 5 Green councillors elected and I am so proud of what we achieved as a group. We really demonstrated the benefits of having Greens in the room, shining a light on many dark places and responding to the needs of residents.
As a councillor I did my best to represent residents in temporary accommodation who were being utterly neglected by the council. I encouraged them to speak at council and also supported them to be Green Party Candidates in the local elections. We were the first party in London to persuade the council to declare a climate emergency and I worked hard to shape Lambeth’s Citizens’ Assembly.
I have been a part of the Peoples Audit, scrutinising the council’s finances and I sit on our local Safer Neighbourhood Panel. I’m an active part of housing groups such as Refurbish Don’t Demolish and helped link up various housing campaigns.
Recently, I have delivered some election training with the Albanian Green Party, and I worked with the Swedish Green Party in their election in Sept 2022. I think that we have a lot to learn from other countries and cultures across the globe. The global reach and long-term thinking are key strengths of the Green Party, which we should promote more. I also think we should learn from each other here in London, and I am always willing to visit other London groups to share my experiences and support campaigns.
I want to stop estate demolitions; they are damaging in so many ways. Instead, I want a massive retrofitting programme across London. Any new buildings should be built to the highest efficiency standards using sustainable materials. For our environment and communities we must reverse the destructive approach under the current mayor.
I want an inclusive shift to more active travel and better public transport systems where people want to ‘ditch’ their cars, not because they are forced to, but because they want to. Public transport, walking and cycling must be safer, more accessible, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable ways to travel around London than private cars.
Although I accidentally fell into politics, I think that with Green Party policies, and my compassion and commitment I have found something that I fit very well into. I really want to be able to be part of the ‘Green Team’ in City Hall and have what it takes. So please give me your first preference vote.
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