Newham Hustings

13 May

A few images and a brief report from last night’s hustings at Brittania Village Hall.  You can read the live coverage of the event on Twitter.

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Labour’s only representative at the hustings was an empty chair.

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Chair John Stewart of HACAN East introduces the speakers – Lois Austin (TUSC), Caroline Allen (Green) and Stefen Mrozinski (Conservative). Out of shot next to Lois is Alex Ocan Latim of the Christian Peoples Alliance. Jonathan Fryer of the Liberal Democrats arrived late. The UKIP candidate for Mayor, David Mears, was unable to attend for personal reasons.

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TUSC’s Lois Austin says her party is the true inheritor of the East End’s Labour tradition; they are an alternative to the cuts and austerity policies that unite the established parties. On transport she calls for more investment in public transport, lower fares and the re-nationalisation of the trains and buses. She promises to be a workers’ mayor on a workers’ wage and accuses Newham Labour of turning its back on the poor, failing them on housing and local services. As there’s no Labour representative on the panel her charges go unanswered.

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Caroline Allen of the Green Party, number two on their London list for the European parliament, makes the case for a social Europe and a London that works for people, not just big business. Inequality is a massive issue for her party. She calls for rent controls and investment in cycling and walking, rather than building ever more roads, bridges and tunnels. There are huge public health benefits to be had, she says.

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Tory mayoral candidate Stefan Mrorzinski rejects expansion of City Airport and says the social costs – pollution and the impact on local businesses – are too high. He attacks Robin Wales’s record after 20 years in power: poor school results, no improvement in poverty, high crime levels and anti-social behaviour. There has been a huge waste of public money on the Newham Mag, Building 1000, London Pleasure Gardens etc. He says he opposes Boris Johnson on building more & more tower blocks & ‘buy to leave’ investment properties: “we need to build streets, not tower blocks.” He says the mayoral system has failed here as Labour’s 60 councillors are failing to hold Sir Robin to account: Newham needs an opposition.

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Alex Ocan Latim of the Christian Peoples Alliance wants to refurbish empty local houses and build new low cost homes for low earning families. Newham owns land, so it should build low cost housing on it. It seems even the Christians are to the left of Labour in Newham! Alex is also deeply concerned about creating local jobs and opportunities for young people.

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For the Liberal Democrats, European candidate Jonathan Fryer is forced to defend his party’s record in in the coalition government after attacks from TUSC and the Greens. He agrees on the need for more affordable public transport and improved rail use as an alternative to airport expansion. Oddly, he doesn’t mention the white elephant of Stratford International, but when it is raised he – and everyone else – agrees it is vital to get international services started as quickly as possible. As a European rather than local candidate he makes his pitch for a positive vision for the EU. “Don’t be sucked in by that funny Mr Farage. Vote for progress,” he says.

It was an entertaining evening and the debate was good-natured. There were no clear winners among the parties that attended, but one very obvious loser. And you don’t need me to tell you who that was – just look for the empty seat.

5 Responses to “Newham Hustings”

  1. Brad Emerson (@bradleyem) May 13, 2014 at 09:53 #

    The empty chair immediately makes me think of the infamous Have I Got News For You ep…

  2. Martin Warne May 13, 2014 at 14:32 #

    See my subsequent post 😉

  3. Birdman May 13, 2014 at 15:25 #

    I think it is likely that SRW banned Labour candidates from attending as he was worried that they would go off message – not hard as most of the Labour candidates only saw the manifesto a couple of days ago. The mans arrogance knows no bounds.

  4. Anon February 9, 2015 at 16:45 #

    Back in May 2014
    A Newham Labour spokesperson said:

    “Newham Labour will not be at the meeting on Monday evening, organised by two self-appointed organisations that deliberately misrepresent the views of the Council and those elected to it.

    “These groups are fully aware that any expansion of London City Airport is currently subject to a planning application. As the planning authority, Newham Council has written to more than 25,000 local homes asking for their views on the proposed expansion of London City Airport and will listen carefully to these and other responses as part of a proper process.”

    The above was sent out by Ken Clark was Sir Robin Wales election agent. This is disappointing as the groups who organised where representing residents.

    On 3rd February 2015, guess who sits on the Planning Committee?. Councillor Ken Clark, not only that, but he made a declaration his daughter works for a concessionaire at the airport. Even then he was the first to raise his hands and vote in favour of more expansion at London City Airport. I don’t know when Ken Clark’s daughter got her job or how she got it….

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