Oliver Hall is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of Hackney
Since my selection as the Conservative Party Candidate for Mayor of Hackney, I have been asked about my reasons for standing. I decided to stand in this election because for half a century, Labour have controlled our Council, during which time they have repeatedly let voters down, ignored residents’ concerns, and cut vital services. I know that a Conservative Council can do so much more than the constant mismanagement that is the hallmark of Labour in Hackney. Hackney is a wonderful place to live. From the bustle of Broadway Market, to the cultural hub of Dalston, we have an important history and a lot to offer. But we need a Mayor and Council that understands what voters need most.
Hackney is being left behind by a Labour Party that takes its votes for granted – a Labour Party that sees elections in Hackney as a foregone conclusion, a coronation, rather than a genuine challenge to their policies.
The introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) is a flagship policy of not only Hackney’s Labour administration, but also of Sadiq Khan in City Hall. LTNs have displaced traffic onto already heavily congested roads and into less prosperous areas – and where the most vulnerable and lower-income families are more likely to live. They have a disproportionate effect on those who simply cannot afford to live in the areas that LTNs are designed to benefit.
Areas such as Stamford Hill and Springfield, where we have seen Conservative Councillors elected in a direct rejection of the Labour’s flawed policies, have been especially affected by the introduction of LTNs. Stamford Hill road is at an almost-constant gridlock, preventing residents from accessing vital services and making travel nigh-on impossible in a time where Covid has already increased the strain on working families.
To compound this issue, LTNs are classed as “experimental traffic orders” or ETOs. This means that the chance for democratic challenges to their implementation is severely limited. They were established by the Labour Council with the excuse of reacting to the Covid emergency last year, meaning that the ordinary process for consultation on such measures was ignored. Without a change in leadership of the Borough, LTNs will continue to negatively impact residents and small businesses without any accountability to the people they affect most. In standing for Mayor I want to reverse this state of affairs and see local communities flourish.
Our excellent Conservative councillors are already working hard to resist the Labour Council’s plans for even more LTN expansion, and if I am elected Mayor of Hackney, I will immediately put a stop to the introduction of all new LTNs while we launch resident-led consultations on whether to remove the ones that already exist. I’m committed to ensuring that Hackney leads the way on fixing the climate crisis, but LTNs are not the answer to this.
The current Labour Council is simply using the income generated by fines for not complying with LTNs to plug the holes in their public finances. This is not a sustainable solution to the financial issues that plague our council. The income generated is not being used as it should be – to ensure our borough is well prepared for the challenges we will see in the near future.
Despite the current Mayor of Hackney’s supposed commitment to ensuring a greener Hackney, our cycle lanes remain unsafe and in a state of disrepair. I cycle most places when getting around the Borough, and it is shocking how badly maintained our roads have become. Potholes plague our streets, making it dangerous to cycle and forcing people into taking other forms of transport that only result in higher levels of pollution across our borough. I want to see cycling and other forms of environmentally sustainable transport become the norm for those living in Hackney – we can’t achieve that without investment in our public infrastructure to ensure that those alternatives are a viable option.
After 18 months of Covid 19 restrictions and economic ramifications, we need a Conservative Mayor and a Conservative Council who understand the impact on small businesses and low-income families. We need a Conservative Mayor and a Conservative Council who put supporting the less fortunate at the heart of their policy development. For too long, the Labour Party across London has focussed more on middle-class entrenchment rather than social mobility, where Council Tax is increased and services cut. My plans start with building more affordable housing in the Borough, improving education and ensuring access to the vital public services that we know help people to pull themselves out of the poverty cycle.
Key to this are the difficult decisions councils must make around social care. I am committed to ensuring that we support social care providers to continue their vital contribution to individuals and communities by promoting long term planning and the best use of constrained budgets. Particularly important is the need to work closely with the wider healthcare system to build capacity and sustainability to care for those who need care and support.
But it’s not just healthcare that I will concentrate on. Hackney has a large young population that has been forgotten by the Labour Council. Hackney needs to also work for those trying to make their way in these difficult times, all the way through from toddlers to our young professionals and families. Since the beginning of this year, I have personally been working with the Conservative Policy Forum to represent students’ views at the heart of government, and I want to build on this exciting approach to represent the needs of all Hackney residents.
So, I have chosen to stand because I want to serve the population of Hackney by listening to voters’ concerns. I will act constructively and decisively; I will bring a different approach and I will make a tangible difference to the future for Hackney – for the people of Hackney. Hackney needs a Conservative Council, with a Conservative Mayor.
We need change – I will deliver it.