Candidates hoping to be a councillor in New Cross have set out what they would do if elected.

A by-election will be held on Thursday, May 6, for the New Cross ward after Councillor Joe Dromey left the council to take on new role at Central London Forward (CLF).     

Lewisham Council is made up almost entirely of Labour or Labour and Co-operative councillors, with one independent. 

There will be six candidates from six different parties on the ballot in May for residents to choose from. 

The local democracy service asked each of them where they stand on key issues affecting the ward, democracy, and Covid-19 recovery. 

What are the key issues facing residents in the ward you are running for election in and how will you approach them if elected?  

Andy Beadle, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition  

News Shopper:

Neglect and lack of investment by governments for decades is the big problem in New Cross. This is the root of inequality.

Unlike similar areas, we have the 'privilege' of seeing just across the river the shiny towers in Canary Wharf, of the wealthy banks and corporations.  

Britain is a wealthy country. The problem is the distribution of that wealth.  

Neglect has created two key issues: a lack of good jobs and of decent housing.  

In turn, these spawn further questions. Poor housing affects health. Shortage of reasonable local jobs means many residents have a time consuming and expensive journey to work.  

New Cross suffers particularly from the perpetual traffic noise, danger and pollution of busy roads. 

I would campaign for a socialist approach like Liverpool Labour council did against Margaret Thatcher.  

It challenged her government by mobilising mass resistance. It won tens of millions of pounds to create jobs, parks, shops and thousands of new council homes.  

Unsurprisingly, it was eventually squashed with the help of Labour's own national leaders. It showed the possibilities of a council that really acts for the people who elected it. 

Andrea Carey Fuller, Green Party  

News Shopper:

(answer inclusive of  resident engagement question) 

Rising costs of/unaffordability/lack of housing. There is too much inappropriate development going on: Tidemill School is one example of this - I led the campaign on behalf of Deptford Neighbourhood Forum (DNA: Deptford Neighbourhood Action).  

DNA tried to persuade the council to re-model the site with DNA via a community collaborative plan which kept the wildlife garden at the heart of this community.  

Len Duvall, the GLA Lewisham/Greenwich constituency member supported DNA's proposal, but Cllr Joe Dromey favoured the developers.  

The whole campaign could have been a win-win for both community and council - yet the council ignored the 1,000+ objections to the plans.  

Reginald House social housing will also be destroyed by this development. No1 Creekside is another disastrous development - these homes being built on conservation land have resulted in the destruction of the green space and 30 trees at the corner of Deptford Church Street/ Creekside.  

This time it was Labour Councillor Paul Maslin who went against community objections from the Crossfields Association, and the Birds Nest and DNA to support this development which will see residents unable to open their windows due to air pollution as the development is going to be built right up to the edge of the pavement.  

I support the Achilles Stop and Listen campaign, against the proposals to destroy homes/local businesses and replace them all with seven tower blocks.  

Community collaborative planning is the way forward to give local people the balance of power in large developments such as the Sainsbury's Hatcham.  

There is a need to support local businesses with reduced business rates and other forms of business support e.g by having local town keepers for both Deptford High street/New Cross Road.  

The council should be encouraging new business ideas by negotiating with the landlords of empty shops to use for community/new business pop-ups, and creating apprenticeship/training schemes for our young people.  

The night time economy needs protecting - pubs like the Montague Arms should be kept as a music venue - against the inappropriate plans for redevelopment which would slash the music space.  

[There is an] urgent need to tackle air pollution and poverty - as these negatively impact health/well-being. Air pollution is a major issue - over £10,000 people in London will die from this silent killer every year.  

Hatcham Park road and Harts Lane are under threat of increased traffic under the Sainsburys New Cross Gate plans. 

Samantha Latouche, Labour Party 

News Shopper:

The Housing Crisis is a key issue - people in the private rented sector pay extortionate rents, whilst over 10,000 people are on the housing waiting list, and 2,000 people are homeless.

We need developments that build the social homes New Cross needs, I grew up in a council home and I know the important sense of security it provided for me and my mum.

My focus will be on ensuring that we hold developers to account and campaign for a Labour government so that we can build even more social homes in the future.

Residents often speak about the physical environment and the issues with people fly-tipping, which then encourages more people to dump their unwanted items on the street.

This is costly for the council and we need to target the ‘professional fly-tippers’ who take people’s money for house clearances and then just dump everything on our streets. Improving air quality is another key issue.

Air pollution has significantly reduced in New Cross in recent years and if elected I would support more measures to reduce air pollution such as the introduction of more school streets and lobby for improved public transport links. 

Gwenton Slolely, Lewisham People Before Profit 

News Shopper:

High levels of air pollution, increase in youth crime, lack of social housing, gentrification and high rates of school exclusion which cause children to be fast tracked into crime affect the quality of life of residents. These issues must be understood, challenged and addressed. 

Reduce high levels of air pollution by creating more green space, managing the flow of traffic during peak times and increasing electric transportation. 

Reduce youth crime by improving the quality of street lighting to open up dark spaces and make New Cross an unattractive place for criminals. Increase community policing and fund school engagement crime prevention programmes. 

Increase social housing – everyone is entitled to a secure and decent home. Transparency in planning permission is needed to ensure new developments have the appropriate number of social housing planned in design. 

Gentrification – they call it regeneration we call gentrification. Time to stop residents being forced out of their homes to make space for ‘unaffordable’ housing development. Revise decant policies to give tenants the option to return to their communities and support networks. 

Reduce school exclusions – fund alternatives such as therapeutic intervention to support mental health conditions and provide in school mentors and support workers. 

Consider managed moves to a different school and college placements for children who struggle with mainstream education. Provide entrepreneurial pathways and apprenticeships for children who are not in education and training. 

Bunmi Wajero, Liberal Democrats

News Shopper:

Affordable housing, jobs, safe streets. I would ensure that new and refurbished developments include an agreed percentage of homes which are genuinely affordable for local people.

Support must be provided for small businesses so they can offer jobs and apprenticeships. I would press for community policing levels to be restored and for more youth centres and other safe spaces for our young people. 

Chris Wilford, Conservative and Unionist Party - did not answer specific questions (see bottom of article)

News Shopper:

What is your view on how the council consults with residents on issues/developments in the borough? How do you plan to engage with residents?  

Andy Beadle, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition  

Before Covid, I was a frequent swimmer at Wavelengths. When I asked yesterday, I was shocked to learn of their new 'terms and conditions' when they reopen. 

Consult their own residents? I'm not sure how much the mayor and cabinet even consult with their own Labour councillors. There seems to be a clique at the top, more accountable to Tory ministerial departments and corporate interests. That's judging by the number of expensive blocks rising like mushrooms around stations and transport hubs. 

Residents are kept in the dark. As a councillor, I'd want to learn what's really going on just to inform residents of New Cross through leaflets, correspondence and talking, unfortunately often by phone, on Zoom and social media until things change. 

I'd take up individual problems as far as possible. But I know the widespread government cuts that Lewisham council has already accepted mean there are plenty of changes people don't know about until we ask. For example,  if you ever need pest control you may find the service you want no longer exists. But persistence sometimes works. 

Taking up individual issues with Lewisham Council needs a lot of tenacity. But ultimately, things will continue to get worse until we have a council that stands up to refuse and reverse Tory cuts and to mobilise resistance. 

Andrea Carey Fuller, Green Party 

Answered above

Samantha Latouche, Labour Party 

Resident participation in consultations is essential and I think it is extremely important that everyone has their voice heard.

The local ward assemblies are fantastic for bringing together local residents to discuss local issues, but we need to ensure these meetings are accessible to everyone.

When I was chair for Lewisham Speaking Up our Peoples Parliament’s events gave people with learning disabilities the space to be heard about issues that concerned them, such as benefits changes, housing issues, and hate crimes.

I would like to encourage this form of engagement with wider groups too. I have over 20 years of experience in community engagement and running innovative social inclusion projects which I will bring to the community.

I plan to engage with residents through connecting with them in order to hear their issues but also to hear their ideas and suggestions about how we can find shared solutions together.

I will do this by attending community meetings, having regular sessions where residents, community groups and businesses can come together for meaningful and productive conversations. 

Gwenton Slolely, Lewisham People Before Profit 

Currently the council feels that it is okay not to consult with and involve residents in plans which affect their homes and communities, and this is not acceptable. 

A large majority of our borough are digitally excluded because they lack internet access or technology

The council doesn’t acknowledge this and continues to share information only via their website which many residents cannot access. 

They are not effectively communicating with residents. They need to rethink their communication strategy so they can reach all residents. 

They need to identify households that require alternative communication and start consulting in different ways through hard copy newsletters, community meetings and events so that all residents have an opportunity for their voices to be heard. 

Where they start consultations, they fail to keep residents informed of progress and outcomes and this needs to improve too. 

Bunmi Wajero, Liberal Democrats 

Lewisham Council’s consultation process is often inadequate, leaving many residents feeling left out of important decisions that are made.

Those without internet access are particularly disadvantaged. If elected I would hold regular Covid-safe advice surgeries and keep in touch through focus leaflets delivered door-to-door by volunteers. 

What would you change about how the council deals with/approaches any issues in the ward? If not, please elaborate.   

Andy Beadle, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition  

Almost everything.  Central government funding has continued to fall. In a strong Labour borough like Lewisham, all the council had to do was explain to their voters what is happening.

There would have been massive support for a council that was prepared to fight for the resources our borough needs. 

Unfortunately, the council is Labour in name only and has let down it's supporters. It isn't opposing this vicious anti-working class Tory government.  

If I win this by-election, I confidently expect a hostile reception in the council. But it won't be about me. It'll be their hostility to the needs of New Cross voters. 

I'll listen to the point of view of other councillors because they represent residents in other parts of the borough with the same council and often the same problems. If these councillors are not interested in real change, my best allies will be outside the council. 

I'll be encouraging, not only in New Cross, people who never thought of standing for the council to get involved with their neighbours.  

Let's get everyone involved - especially the youth because they are the ones who could lose the most. The councillors there now have lost touch with our local community. 

Andrea Carey Fuller  

Local people need to be empowered and enabled to play a key part in planning (10+ homes) in their neighbourhoods to ensure that the local communities views on what is important to them/their welfare are at the heart of proposals put to planning.

Currently local peoples’ views are rarely taken into account and councillors are not, in this particular ward, good at supporting the community’s views as they should be in these instances.

Local democracy is something that Lewisham Council needs to improve especially given that it is a one-party state it is unable and unethical for Lewisham to scrutinise itself. Lewisham should work with another local borough such as Greenwich in a joint-scrutiny agreement.

Samantha Latouche, Labour Party 

One of the key issues in New Cross is fly-tipping. I would like to see a greater focus on targeting those professional fly-tippers who are blighting our communities.

This issue is not unique to New Cross or Lewisham; it's happening everywhere across the country. These professionals are trying to make more money by not properly disposing of the waste they collect.

Speaking to residents they are grateful that the council speedily removes the rubbish, but it is clear to all it is not a sustainable approach as more rubbish appears again.

I believe we need a larger deterrent for fly-tippers and I’d like to see more and larger fines to those who are dumping rubbish.

I’d also like to see the Government give Lewisham and councils everywhere the resources they need to tackle professional fly-tipping and even change the laws if necessary. 

Gwenton Slolely, Lewisham People Before Profit 

The council should be transparent, accountable and listen to residents’ concerns. They must do what they say they’re going to do and give timeframes for actions and correspondence. 

I would stop the lip service, and create a culture of understanding, action and deliver outcomes. 

Residents have been experiencing ongoing issues for far too long and it’s time to find solutions. Residents are entitled to live and work in New Cross peacefully and safely. 

Bunmi Wajero, Liberal Democrats 

When an authority such as Lewisham lacks an opposition it can easily become arrogant and complacent.

Lib Dem councillors would ensure that issues are properly discussed and decisions scrutinised and that the views of local people are taken into account. 

How do you think the council should approach Covid recovery? 

Andy Beadle, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition  

The Covid pandemic has shone a light on our overstretched, underfunded or non-existent public services. Inequality and discrimination have been magnified.  

I supported the Black Lives Matter protests last year in London with other Socialist Party members.

There has never been a more important time to stand for workers' unity. 

It's clear that big business, Tories and Starmer's Labour will try to make the rest of us pay for this crisis 

A socialist council would: 

End evictions  

Forgive Covid arrears and debts 

Cap rents 

Say no to rip-off landlords 

Use reserves and borrowing powers to set no-cuts budgets and fight for the funding we need 

Support all workers fighting back with industrial action.  

To meet the needs of the overwhelming majority in society, rather than the 1 per cent, we need a democratic, socialist plan of production and distribution. 

Andrea Carey Fuller  

By putting the Climate Crisis - particularly air pollution issues - at the heart of everything, ensuring that neighbourhoods have green walking/cycling routes, ensuring that everyone has access to a quality green/nature space within 200m of their home, and reducing traffic by making public transport better.

Black cabs still have an important role to play as they use bus lanes, are electric, and accessible for wheelchair users.

Food security is vital - going forward the council needs to look into creating food growing spaces (Tidemill Wildlife garden was one) around estates and residential areas where people don’t have access to a garden.

Brexit will compound access to food issues too as much of our fruit and other food stuffs come from the EU. 

Again, the creation of local training and local jobs for local people will be vital and given that a lot more people are working from home, supporting local shop-keepers and independent business is vital to improving the local economy. 

Samantha Latouche, Labour Party 

The council needs to approach Covid Recovery in the same vein that it has worked hard to support the community in these difficult times.

Through strong leadership and innovative ideas. Through the Covid crisis the council has worked incredibly closely with the voluntary and community sector, which has been why our response to the pandemic has been so effective.

We have seen how agile and responsive the voluntary sector has been and I would like to see the council build on those collaborative networks going forward so we can encourage more volunteering and community action.

It’s vitally important to reskill people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic by providing information, advice and guidance.

Covid-19 has shown how fragile the world and our economy are, as we recover we need to make sure the recovery is green, investing in green jobs that pay well and protect the planet.

Black and Asian communities and disabled people have been most affected by Covid-19 health inequalities.

These inequalities existed before - Covid-19 has just highlighted them. I would work with the local NHS, Lewisham’s public health team and community groups in New Cross to help reduce inequalities. 

Gwenton Slolely, Lewisham People Before Profit 

The health and well-being of residents has to be a priority. We now have to learn to live with a deadly virus in a safe way. 

The council must continue to promote social distancing and good hygiene practise. 

Public areas need to be kept clean to reduce the chances of transmission. The council must provide more information for families and businesses financially affected by Covid-19 letting residents know what funding and support is available. 

As a nation we know that a lot of people have been impacted by Covid- 19 and they need support. 

I would like to see mental health service provision expanded so that residents can access services timely and get the support they need to overcome challenges they’re experiencing and learn coping strategies to help them rebuild their lives. 

Local jobs for local people need attention to. Lots of businesses suffered over the last year and some had to close for good, forcing residents into unemployment. 

It’s important to start rebuilding local businesses to provide job opportunities for local people. 

Bunmi Wajero, Liberal Democrats 

Covid has shown that more home-working is practical and our local centres need to reflect this life-style change.

We need imaginative opportunities for leisure, hospitality, retail and child-care, as well as employment, here in our neighbourhood.

The council should make full use of any Government grants available to support Covid recovery, such as the High Streets Fund for which they failed to apply last year. 

Though Chris Wilford, New Cross candidate for the Conservative and Unionist Party, did not answer the questions, he sent on the following:  

I'm standing up for New Cross because we need a fresh start based on my three point plan.  

- Clean Streets

- Safe Streets

- Better Schools

As well as these big issues I will also be campaigning: 

To scrap Low TrafficNeighbourhoods(LTNs) where roadblocks are causing even more pollution and more traffic. 

To scrap the ULEZ expansion, as it will mean many New Cross residents will have an extra charge of £12.50 a day just for switching their car engines on.

Lewisham is a one-party state and we all pay the price. With no opposition, Lewisham Labour can quite frankly do what they want.

All the battles that matter to them are internal between their Hard Left and Moderate factions. Whilst they bicker, residents have to put up with poor services. It's time to get a grip. 

I'll be a strong opposition on the council. I will be campaigning for weekly bin collections, cutting crime and campaigning against Labour’s road blocks under their Low Traffic Neighbourhoods scheme. These LTNs are causing massive traffic jams and even more pollution on the main roads. 

Alongside Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, I will be working to cut council tax, make our streets safer, help young people get out of crime, get young people on the housing ladder, and scrap plans to extend the £12.50 daily ULEZ charge.  

With Charlie Davis, the Conservative candidate for Greenwich and Lewisham on the London Assembly, I will work to ensure the Bakerloo Line Extension is delivered.