Samia Hersi a Conservative council candidate for the Canary Wharf Ward in Tower Hamlets in May’s local elections. She previously worked for a Conservative MP and within the education charity sector.
As we look forward to the local elections in England, an interesting development is taking place in London.
In boroughs across the capital, life-long Labour Party voters and supporters are angry. Sadiq Khan’s record as Mayor, and the Labour Party’s dominance of London councils, has seen the expansion of deeply unpopular Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), a significantly higher tax burden for Londoners, and increasing violent crime in the capital, now at levels not seen since 2008.
London Labour faces a crisis: it has failed to deliver and now takes Londoners for granted. Many people I have spoken to across the capital, including within the Canary Wharf Ward in Tower Hamlets, for which I am standing as a Conservative Party Local Council Candidate, have expressed such sentiments.
LTNs, and similar policies, I have found, are often pushed by individuals with little understanding or connection to the community upon which they wish to inflict this. These schemes can take various forms, such as planters being placed on roads thus closing them off, and other measures to discourage driving such as removing parking spaces. It has divided communities, curiously along the lines of long-settled groups, those more likely to vote in local elections, and younger newer professionals. The Labour Party’s dogmatic rollout of these policies across the capital is nothing short of an electoral own goal.
Councils across London have u-turned on such schemes due to their unpopularity. In Tower Hamlets, however, the programme has now been resumed with very few changes. The Council has spent £29 million on its ‘Liveable Streets’ schemes while cutting youth services. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence showing LTNs are delaying emergency response times. The former Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service had admitted this in an interview a few months ago.
Growing up in Tower Hamlets and seeing how my area has been let down repeatedly by the Labour Party made me decide to stand for the local council and make a difference.
On the Isle of Dogs, transport connections are not as good as in other parts of London or even the borough. They do not reflect the scale of development and rapid population growth. Londoners are facing continuous strikes from TfL despite Khan promising there would not be any during his mayoralty. The Isle of Dogs, like elsewhere in the capital, is experiencing rising violent crime. On New Year’s Eve, London’s teenage homicides reached a new record high surpassing the previous record in 2008. This is despite the country being under lockdown for the first months of 2021.
Khan has also decided to close the only police station on the Island, depriving 60,000 people of a local police station. Considering the amount of wealth that is generated on the Island, very little is invested into the community, and we have the Labour Party to blame for that.
The tax burden on Londoners could not be any higher through the expansion of ULEZ and the proposed increase to council tax costs – to levels higher than when Ken Livingstone was Mayor. In 2008, the average council tax bill to City Hall reached £310. The bill was cut under Boris Johnson as Mayor to £276 in 2016. Under Khan in 2023, it is expected to increase to £396.
On top of this, Londoners face increasing council tax bills to local authorities. Khan’s Labour has wrecked City Hall’s finances and is now passing on the costs to Londoners.
There are soundings and predictions widely on what the local elections could mean for the Conservative Party and the leadership, but locally too.
With the right policies, messaging, and instincts, we can win in London, deliver better for Londoners. Is London ‘lost’ to Labour? There may be a case on a parliamentary level, but not regionally nor, in some areas, locally.
In the Mayoral and London Assembly elections, Khan and his Labour mates did not do as well as expected. It could perhaps be an indication of what is to come next May. Khan’s Labour faces a crisis in London, we must capitalise on this.