Meet the Councillors

Candidates from the Labour Party won all five seats representing Wanstead on Redbridge Council following the local elections at the beginning of May 2018.

Jo Blackman, Paul Donovan and Daniel Morgan-Thomas won Wanstead Village while Sheila Bain and Paul Merry won Wanstead Park.

Following their success, the newly elected candidates kindly agreed to answer some questions about issues of concern to the local community:

How do you feel now the campaign is over?

“We enjoyed meeting so many residents in the run up to the election and hearing about their concerns.  We are grateful for the support that the people of Wanstead have shown by electing us to represent them and we are looking forward to serving all residents and delivering on our election pledges.”

Gwyneth Deakins, a former councillor in the Borough, has criticised the way the local elections and particularly the count were conducted.  What are your views about her concerns?

“The count could have gone more smoothly on the night.  There were some delays due to various malfunctions.  However, it was a long night for everyone concerned, not only the candidates but the Council staff who did the count.  They deserve our thanks.”

What were the issues in Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park which dominated the campaign?

“There were particular concerns over crime and pollution.  On the wider political scene, a lot of people are concerned about the impact of Brexit, though this falls outside our remit as councillors.  There was though also plenty of positive feedback.  Most people, for instance, think Wanstead is a great place to live.”

What are your priorities for the next 6 months?

“Our priorities will be to deliver for the residents of Wanstead.  This will mean standing up for issues that concern people in the area.  It will also be good to see work on that swimming pool get underway.”

There has been some discussion online about a general impression of an increase in crime in Wanstead.  Do you think this is true and what can be done about it?

“Crime is certainly a concern in the area that needs to be addressed.  The cuts to policing have no doubt impacted on the rise in crime across the whole Borough.  This is something the Government should be looking at.  More police would no doubt help cut crime.”

In March 2018 it was reported that £5-£10m may be required to improve the safety of three Wanstead Park lakes which continue to be rated at “high risk” of flooding.  What added impetus can be given to the long-awaited Heritage Lottery Fund bid?

“There has been close involvement on the part of the incumbent and new Labour Councillors in the affairs of Wanstead Park.  The Corporation of London has to fund the flood prevention programme or suffer the consequences from the Environment Agency.  This injection of funds could provide some much needed investment, though mainly focusing on flood prevention.  The Heritage Lottery Funding bid is vital.  We do hope, after much delay, that the Corporation of London will move on with the bid in order that the vision outlined for the Park can be brought to fruition.”

Some residents in Wanstead Village have expressed concerns about an increase in litter particularly in places like Christchurch Green.  Will you be taking steps to address these concerns?

“We want an area that all can be proud of and it’s important that everyone plays a part in keeping it clean.  We will be discussing this with Council officers as a priority.”

The food and agriculture policy alliance London Food Link recently revealed that Redbridge Council has yet to pass a resolution in support of Fairtrade and is not yet making significant progress towards Fairtrade.  Do you feel this is important and will you be pushing the Council to show initiative in this area?

“Fairtrade can play an important role in securing livelihoods for farmers and their families in developing countries and we support efforts in that direction so will be raising this with Council colleagues.”

During the campaign, Daniel Morgan-Thomas said he wanted to put Wanstead “back on the map” after the area had seemed “remote from the wider concerns of Redbridge Council”.  In practical terms, how do you think this can be achieved?

“The election of a Labour Council in Redbridge in 2014, together with two Labour Councillors in the former Wanstead Ward, was a significant step forward in putting Wanstead “on the map” and back at the heart of Redbridge Council’s priorities.  We’ve seen amongst other things our local library refurbished, investment in our children’s centres, major improvement works planned at Wanstead High School together with a new public pool, and the doubling of free parking time on the High Street.  Going forward, with five Labour Councillors now serving the Wanstead area, we will all work to ensure that Wanstead continues to thrive and benefit from Borough-wide investment programmes.”

It is sometimes said of local councillors that after being elected they disappear from public view.  How do you propose to make yourselves as accessible and representative of the local community as possible?

“We will be holding regular surgeries, holding a weekly street stall on the High Street, as well as attending local events.  We will also be looking to stay in touch with people via local media.  Wanstead Ward News (now The Wanstead Post) and the Wanstead Directory have proved particularly adept at providing information during the campaign.  We will certainly be doing all we can to sort out problems, get involved and stay in touch with the people of Wanstead.”

Would you volunteer to pay more Council Tax?

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According to The Times newspaper, more than 800 households in Westminster have volunteered to pay extra Council Tax.  This follows a letter from the Leader of the Council to residents living in properties in the top band asking whether they would be willing to pay a “community contribution”.  Since the scheme began in March about 2 per cent of the 15,600 households approached have responded and the idea is expected to raise £342,000 to tackle homelessness and isolation and fund youth clubs.

Westminster includes areas such as Mayfair and Belgravia and residents already pay some of the lowest Council Tax rates in the UK; but is this a useful idea and would it work in Redbridge?

If Redbridge Council could prove that any money raised by a similar scheme was being used to tackle the most urgent social issues in the Borough, would residents be willing to volunteer to pay more Council Tax?

One week to polling day

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© Electoral Commission

Local government elections will take place in 32 London boroughs including Redbridge on Thursday 3 May 2018.

A person can vote if they are on the local government register in an area where elections are taking place and are:

  • Aged 18 or over on polling day
  • A British citizen
  • An Irish, EU or qualifying Commonwealth citizen

British citizens living overseas who are registered as overseas electors cannot vote in local government elections. Service voters stationed abroad are still eligible to vote in local government elections.

All polling stations open at 07.00 and close at 22.00.

Voters can choose from a list of candidates on the ballot paper who will either be part of a political party or standing as an independent candidate. In order to cast a vote, a voter should simply put an X (a cross) next to the one candidate for whom they wish to vote.

The electoral system used to elect councillors is ‘first past the post’. Under this system, the candidate with the most votes is elected first, then if required the candidate with the second highest number of votes is elected, then the third placed candidate. No candidate needs to get more than half of the votes cast.

In the event of a tie, then a candidate is selected by the drawing of lots (i.e. a method of selection by chance such as tossing a coin or picking a name out of a hat).

The relevant Local Government Returning Officer has overall responsibility for the counting of votes at their respective election. This includes ensuring Presiding Officers transport ballot boxes from polling stations to the count venue in a secure and timely manner. The relevant returning officer should take reasonable steps to begin counting the votes given on the ballot papers as soon as practicable after the close of the poll.

(Information provided by The Electoral Commission)

According to nomination papers published by Redbridge Council, the following candidates are standing for election as Borough Councillors on 3 May 2018:

Wanstead Village Ward

Crispin Acton (Liberal Democrats)
Jo Blackman (Labour Party)
David Bruck (Liberal Democrats)
Tony Csoka (Green Party)
Paul Donovan (Labour Party)
Michelle Dunn (Conservative Party)
Cedric Knight (Green Party)
Daniel Morgan-Thomas (Labour Party)
Scott Wilding (Conservative Party)
Steve Wilks (Conservative Party)
Elisabeth (Ann) Williams (Green Party)

Wanstead Park Ward

Sheila Bain (Labour Party)
Pat Bennett (Conservative Party)
Richard Kays (Conservative Party)
Paul Merry (Labour Party)
Christopher Pallet (Liberal Democrats)

Meet the candidates: Daniel Morgan-Thomas (The Labour Party)

daniel_morgan_thomas

On Thursday 3 May 2018 voters will go to the polls in local elections across England.

In the local area candidates will be selected to represent the newly created Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park wards on Redbridge Council.

Wanstead Ward News has been meeting some of the candidates:

Daniel Morgan-Thomas is standing for The Labour Party in Wanstead Village.

He says:

“I have lived in Snaresbrook since 2001 and been based in North East London for most of my life. My late Mother ran her own business in Wanstead and South Woodford and I went to primary school here too so I have grown up feeling part of the community in Wanstead.

I have been a member of The Labour Party locally since 2009 and been happy to get to know many neighbours and local residents through my activism. I have taken part in several local campaigns including defending Whipps Cross from cuts, protesting against the closure of Wanstead Police Station and most recently standing up for users of the W12 bus service.

The new Wanstead Village ward is my home as well as my constituency so I genuinely want to be part of a Council administration that can listen to concerns from our area despite the enormous burden of Tory austerity on the Council budget.

As a former carer I am especially aware of those in our community who rely on both voluntary and local authority funded care – whether they are elderly, younger adults or disabled children. We are very lucky to have a wonderful resource like the Burgess Centre on Wanstead High Street for our older people as well as a borough-wide support group for carers in Redbridge. Nevertheless, I hope to be able to stand up for the needs of the elderly and disabled as a Councillor, both in making the case for increased funding demands at a local and national level and in promoting accessibility across our High Street and local area.

I am also a young (24) resident of the area and I hope that this election will see young people take an interest in local politics. I know that there are plenty of young people in Wanstead who already care about their neighbours and community and I have been encouraged by the interest I have had from young people I have spoken to on the doorstep. It would be great to take that further as a young councillor.

Wanstead is a very special part of the London Borough of Redbridge, but being on the periphery of the Borough has sometimes made it seem remote from the wider concerns of Redbridge Council, particularly under previous administrations. I am determined to put us back on the map if elected, supporting local businesses and community groups and keeping our area thriving.”

 

Meet the candidates: Jo Blackman (The Labour Party)

jo_blackman

On Thursday 3 May 2018 voters will go to the polls in local elections across England.

In the local area candidates will be selected to represent the newly created Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park wards on Redbridge Council.

Wanstead Ward News has been meeting some of the candidates:

Jo Blackman is standing for The Labour Party in Wanstead Village.

She says:

“I have lived locally for the last 10 years. My husband and I chose this area to bring up our young family and we have spent many happy hours on Wanstead High Street, in Wanstead Library and using the nearby playground and children’s centre.

I am an active member of the local community and a busy campaigner and fundraiser. I have led a number of local campaigns and set up the Aldersbrook Playground Campaign to address the lack of play facilities in the south of Redbridge. I am Vice-Chair of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands where I continue to champion play and investment in the park. I have set up the Wanstead Park Nature Club to encourage children and their families to explore nature and I also recently secured £10,000 of funding for books for my daughters’ school’s new bus library.

I understand and share many of the concerns we have been hearing on the doorstep while campaigning. People are worried about rising crime, road safety, pollution, the housing crisis, worsening inequality, Brexit and the impact on local services of cuts imposed by the national Government. Local government is on the frontline of many of these services and we really can make a difference, which is why these local elections are so important for Wanstead Village. Along with my fellow Labour candidates I have already been busy campaigning on many of these issues like reversing cuts to the crime budget, reinstating the old W12 bus timetable and introducing the 20mph speed limits on residential roads.

My professional careeer has been spent campaigning at a national, European and international level for children’s rights, the environment and for the Labour Party. I would like to bring this knowledge of how to affect change to my role as a Councillor.

I have been active in The Labour Party for many years but the Brexit Referendum and Trump’s victory in the US were a real wake-up call. If we do not stand up for the issues we care about we cannot assume that others will do so for us.

I hope I will have the opportunity to represent Wanstead Village as a Councillor and work with local residents to make a difference.”

Meet the candidates: Paul Donovan (The Labour Party)

paul_donovan

On Thursday 3 May 2018 voters will go to the polls in local elections across England.

In the local area candidates will be selected to represent the newly created Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park wards on Redbridge Council.

Wanstead Ward News has been meeting some of the candidates:

Paul Donovan is standing for The Labour Party in Wanstead Village.

He says:

“A Wanstead resident all my life, I attended Aldersbrook and Wanstead High Schools, before going on to Kent University where I attained my degree in law and industrial relations.

After graduation I worked in banking prior to moving into journalism. I have worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, winning a number of awards for my work.

I am a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church where I have been actively involved in justice and peace work and been a member of the Parish Council. I have also played a prominent role with the social justice work of the Church at a national and international level. I was also part of the multi-faith Peace and Justice in East London group, set up post 9/11 to promote peace.

I played a role in keeping Wanstead Police Station open – when it was previously under threat – after being mugged on Christchurch Green.

A committed environmentalist, I have played a role in building up the community based support groups for Wanstead Park. I am also a member of the Wren Group, Friends of Wanstead Park and an allotment holder. I helped to organise the Snaresbrook Seeds initiative in 2014 which saw tree pits in the area seeded with wild flowers. I am now trying to take this idea forward on a bigger scale with the Wild Wanstead campaign.

Now, I feel, is the time to put myself foward as a Council candidate. The Labour Council can boast a proud record over its past four years, despite the pressure coming as a result of 40% cuts in the budget from the Tory Government.

Not only has the Labour Council managed to defend and build on basic facilities, like the libraries and waste collection, but it is commmited to building a swimming pool in Wanstead. The step free access coming soon for Snaresbrook station is another important achievement.

Most recently I have been involved with fellow Labour candidates in the campaign to restore a full service to the W12 bus route. We are also backing the 20s Plenty speed reduction campaign. As well as this I am keen to play a part in pushing forward with Labour’s proposals on increasing recycling and cutting pollution.

As a lifelong Wanstead resident, I am acutely aware that this end of the borough can sometimes get forgotten. If elected, I will seek to ensure that our community is heard at the top table in the Town Hall. I want to stand up for Wanstead and be part of the exciting future for the area under Labour.”

Meet the candidates: Tony Csoka (The Green Party)

tony_csoka

On Thursday 3 May 2018 voters will go to the polls in local elections across England.

In the local area candidates will be selected to represent the newly created Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park wards on Redbridge Council.

Wanstead Ward News has been meeting some of the candidates.

Tony Csoka is standing for The Green Party in Wanstead Village.

He says:

“Originally from Hertfordshire, I have lived in South Woodford with my long-term partner since 2006.

I work as a contract financial professional in the City having been educated to Masters level in Physics.

Spending quality time with my family and our two cats is important to me, and, as the parent of a six-year-old girl, matters of local education are crucial. As is making our community safe and providing a clean environment for all to live in, now and in the future.

I am a committed vegan (for animals, the environment and my health) and I moderate an online vegan community. I also enjoy walking, running, going to the gym, listening to music and cooking.”