Posted: 03.05.21 at 09:06 by Kurt Robson
The people living in Balham and Tooting’s Bedford ward will be going to the polls on the 6th May to elect a new councillor for the area.
The local by-election is being held on Thursday, May 6 following the resignation of former councillor Fleur Anderson.
Voting will take place on the same day as the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections.
Nub News invited all of the candidates for a Question and Answer session.
Here is our interview with David Carlyon. The Green Party candidate.
1. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU AS A GREEN PARTY COUNCILLOR WILL BRING TO THE BEDFORD WARD?
I believe I can bring a fresh perspective and the ideas and passion to tackle the Climate Emergency and environmental problems facing the borough. Wandsworth Council has always been dominated by Labour and the Conservatives who have failed to address the need to reduce carbon emissions, stop the use of dangerous pesticides across our green spaces, protect our precious trees, sort out our recycling rates, which are some of the worst in the country, prevent people from breathing illegal levels of polluted air and the list goes on.
It was Green Party activists who created “the 10,000 petition” to make the council declare a Climate Emergency and we are not planning to stop campaigning until the council takes real action on climate change.
Being green is in our DNA and is not just a gimmick for election periods. I am hoping to be the first Green Party councillor elected to Wandsworth Council to break the deadlock and lead the way in making Bedford a cleaner, greener and healthier ward for all residents.
I have worked as an advisor on sustainability for the last seven years and have a master’s degree in environmental law. I aim to bring my practical and policy understanding to the council to help implement real action on tackling the Climate Emergency.
2. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MAIN ISSUES FACING TOOTING AND BALHAM RIGHT NOW?
Tooting and Balham are currently facing an air pollution and public health crisis. This is primarily due to our gridlocked roads and over-reliance on cars, for short and long journeys. The A24 for instance is one of London's most polluted roads and air pollution was responsible for up to 4,000 deaths in the capital (in 2019).
Alongside the physical implications of breathing toxic air, our busy roads are also having a detrimental impact on the health and safety of walkers, cyclists and people using scooters. I have spoken to many residents and parents on the door step who are deeply worried about the safety of our local streets, especially as a result of speeding and plans to weaken our cycle lanes and infrastructure.
I have been pleased to hear that many people will be voting Green for the first time to help address these issues and make our ward cleaner, greener and healthier.
3. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WANDSWORTH'S ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY?
The Green Party was pleased to see the Council produce an Environment and Sustainability Strategy following the pressure from local residents to declare a Climate Emergency. However, this does not go far enough, fast enough, in order to match the urgency of the situation. For instance, the target to be carbon zero by 2050 is far too late and is likely to delay the immediate actions and solutions needed as soon as possible.
In addition, the strategy focuses on the environmental impacts associated with the purchasing and consumption of the council’s owned premises, staff and contracts. This does not sufficiently tackle the carbon emissions or sustainability issues associated with travel through the borough, private housing or businesses etc. We would like to see the council develop a strategy which comprehensively addresses all carbon emissions generated within the borough.
The strategy is also failing to address some of the borough’s immediate environmental requirements.
As a result, we have seen the council continue to chop down rare trees, invest in fossil fuels, fail to introduce food waste collection, and not keep air pollution within legal limits since the publication of the strategy.
4. OBVIOUSLY, A VERY POLARISING ISSUE, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LTN'S AND HOW THEY WERE IMPLEMENTED INTO THE AREA?
One of my main election pledges is to ensure the council adopt long-term LTNs which work effectively across the borough and play a key part in improving the safety of our streets, reduce pollution and encourage active travel. This will of course involve full consultation with residents, businesses and schools etc to work out a suitable approach.
We can no longer avoid the fact that there are simply too many cars on our roads which is causing people to breathe toxic air on a daily basis.
We need the council to be bold in addressing this issue and lead the way in reducing traffic and making our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. I have met so many people who would love to start cycling but are simply put off by the fact that are public spaces are dominated by cars. I am deeply concerned by the council’s current approach to revoking LTNs and weakening key cycle routes, including CS7.
While the initial LTNs introduced in Wandsworth might not have been perfect, they must be the catalyst for change that we desperately need. This will involve a lot of strategic thinking, creativity and a commitment to change from across society, but we must get there.
5. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT AND THE MAYOR OF LONDON HAVE DONE WELL/BADLY WITH THE COVID CRISIS?
I was pleased to see the proactive approaches, in partnership with councils, to promoting active travel and LTNs to help with social distancing, improve air quality, ease congestion and make our streets safer. While these measures were introduced as a direct response to Covid-19, we should make sure we improve active travel options going forwards as we come out of the pandemic and return to ‘normal’.
I was also pleased to see the financial support given to individuals and businesses to help see them through the lockdown periods.
However, with so many people falling through the cracks, especially the self-employed, a great opportunity was missed to trial the roll-out of Universal Basic Income.
6. WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT TOOTING AND BALHAM?
I love the diversity and hustle and bustle of Tooting and Balham. From the fantastic curry houses and pubs to the independent shops, restaurants and cafes that line our streets. (I must use this opportunity to give a shout out to The Wheatsheaf and Balham Bowls Club who have always let us use their facilities for Green Party meetings and events).
As a Green, I of course feel incredibly lucky to have Tooting Common on my doorstep and the ability to get on my bike and cycle into central London.
7. ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
I would urge voters to follow their hearts at the voting booth and help elect the first-ever Green to Wandsworth Council. We need an independent and new voice to tackle the Climate Emergency;
reduce air pollution; introduce food waste collection; ensure affordable, energy-efficient homes; protect our trees and ensure we have people-friendly neighbourhoods. Greens have been elected across London, including in neighbouring Lambeth and Richmond, and we can win here in Wandsworth.
A Green vote is a vote for a zero-carbon borough, for cyclists, for clean air, for safer streets. If you want Green, Vote Green.
Nub News will be releasing interviews with every candidate who responded to our interview request.