London Greens have sent in questions for London Assembly candidates to answer. So I thought I’d post my responses here. The questions cover a range of issues covering the Night Time economy, voting systems, campaign messaging, positive discrimination, young people, housing, narrowing the gap between highest and lowest paid, Brexit and protecting green spaces. There was a strict limit of not more than 100 words per question on average. And here are my answers.
1. Many music venues face closure in London due to business rates or noise abatement orders what will you do to support and protect grassroots music in the city? Sam Murray – Waltham Forest & Redbridge
The Economy Committee reportRewrite the Nightthat I lead on as Economy Chair last year, looks in detail at the issues faced by grass roots music (and other creative) venues. I really like the way the Mayor is supporting inclusive culture across the city including in outer boroughs and not just in the honeypot centre.
I am making sure that this report recommendation is included in the London Plan: “The Mayor should require boroughs to consider the need for dedicated space to showcase the work of artists and musicians in Supplementary Planning Guidance”.
It is important that boroughs work with residents but there are plenty of examples of good practice that we quote in the report where boroughs are enabling grass roots music venues to thrive in partnership with local communities. (132 words)
2. What are the cultural opportunities from closing London city airport? How can we use the space in an interesting way like Tempelhof park in Berlin? Sam Murray – Waltham Forest & Redbridge
In the last Mayoral election we proposed closing City Airport to make a new district of housing and small businesses, backed by a New Economics Foundation report. This proposal could certainly include Night Time Economy venues to support grass roots music and creativity. The model of making space available outside the centre of cities for night time culture is something London should definitely explore. (64 words)
3. How will you support London’s vast night time economy? Sam Murray – Waltham Forest & Redbridge
As Chair of the Economy Committee last year, I lead a scrutiny into the future of Culture and the Night Time Economy. Our report Rewrite the Night made many recommendations to the Mayor. In particular that workers at night should be paid the Living Wage. I got the mayor to publish new data in to working conditions at night revealing that more people are working for less than Living Wage at night. I’ve questioned the Mayor on this and yesterday responded to a report from the Night Time Commission that failed to mention underpaid night time workers.
4. What developments do you wish to see in London’s cultural strategy? Sam Murray – Waltham Forest & Redbridge
I led the Economy Committee response to the Mayor’s draft Culture Strategy and made a Green Group response that focussed on good work standards and grass roots culture. You can also watch my questioning the Mayor on the Culture Strategy.
5. Why in your view is The Green Party continuing to average around 1-2% in the polls and how will your approach as a candidate seek to address this? Scott Bartle – Brent
First Past the Post (FPTP) elections are tough. They work on a binary choice between the two biggest parties in any election.
The Assembly election is different. The constituency vote is FPTP and we won’t win those seats. However we have come third in the Mayoral election in 2012 and 2016 and we have consistently won two seats on the Assembly via the proportional Party list vote.
When people know their vote will count they will vote Green. Our job is to show elected Greens are effective, so Londoners vote for more of us.
6. The nuances of the London electoral system means that the Greens normally do well on the London-wide list for the Assembly. Do you believe that this will affect your campaign messaging and, if so, how will you explain what this means for the voters and how they should cast their London-wide vote? Ben Hickey – Islington
The campaign messaging belongs to London Green Party and not to any one candidate. Having said that, I hope that we will build on the record of work that Sian and I have created so that Londoners have confidence in voting Green Party on the party vote ballot paper. I think we need to focus on voting for “the Green Party” and not the colour of a ballot paper as in previous years.
7. As someone who is classifiable as a BME woman, but who does not see herself as representative of BME people and womankind, and who finds BME-only and female-only short lists, and BME and gender quotas, to be deeply problematic, I am interested to know what the candidates think of positive discrimination. Pippa Maslin – Merton
I really like the formulation of “at least” one woman and “at least” one BAME person in our selection framework. It is not about quotas but it does ensure that our list of candidates in in 2020 is as representative of Londoners as possible. The most important thing about effective Green Party campaigners and elected people is that we are good listeners and that we bring Londoners voices in to our Town Halls and City Hall.
8. In Merton, we are fortunate to have 67 parks and nature conservation areas, but unfortunate to have a Labour-led council who have: (a) outsourced the management of our green spaces to a distinctly mediocre company; and (b) started allowing unsuitable events to be held in our green spaces. They say that they want to ‘sweat our assets’ because of ‘austerity’. What do you make of this behaviour, and how might the London Assembly help Mertonians to defend their right to have access to good quality public green spaces? Pippa Maslin – Merton
Assembly Members (AMs) are elected to scrutinise the work of the Mayor of London. However we can ensure the Mayor’s policies help campaigners standing up to protect green space in London boroughs.
I will be giving evidence to the Examination in Public for the London Plan on greenspace and biodiversity amongst other matters.
As an Islington councillor Islington I’ve made sure greenspace workers are employed on proper contracts with rights to sick and holiday pay. I’ve also made sure that community use of parks is protected despite the impact of austerity meaning parks need to create some income.
9. With young people feeling undervalued and often voiceless in both society and politics, what would you prioritize to support young people in London? Aaron Parr – Hackney
As Chair of the Assembly Economy Committee last year, I oversaw a scrutiny on the financial health of Londoners. After speaking with young people and seeing the work of organisations like MyBnk, we made several recommendations in our Shortchanged report to the Mayor about supporting the financial well-being of young people. On our recommendation, the Mayor held an event last Autumn bringing together the organisations supporting the financial health of young Londoners. You can read more about this work here.
And obviously I am a huge fan of the Young Greens and the 30U30 scheme, enabling so many people to become such impressive campaigners.
10. Given London’s chronic housing crisis, what are the candidates’ solutions, specifically in relation to renting, which disproportionately effects Londoners from a lower socio-economic background? Paul Valentine – Lambeth
I am working on a scrutiny as Environment Chair looking at solutions for cold, damp and mouldy homes. As a councillor in Islington it has been shocking to see the way that a combination of factors like new plastic windows, overcrowding, lack of ventilation and structural design of flats has lead to an epidemic of condensation and black mould. It is shameful that public sector housing is left in this state and that residents are even made to feel guilty for breathing, cooking and washing their clothes through thoughtless advice to put lids on saucepans and avoid hanging clothes to dry indoors.
We have visited Thamesmead where Peabody have come up with effective multi measure affordable retrofit. I hope our report will help social housing providers to tackle mould and condensation making all homes fit to be lived in. If you have experience of mould and condensation contribute to our report via TalkLondon.
11. Could the mayor and assembly narrow the wide distribution of income in London and the UK? Nick Barnett – Sutton & Croydon
Broadly this is outside the Mayor’s powers. However…
The London Living Wage came out of work by the Assembly pushed by Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson.
In the Green Group budget amendment this year we propose that the Assembly explores whether a four day working week (on full pay) would help the productivity of the organisation and the well being of workers.
12. What is your position on Brexit and would you push for a People’s Vote and then campaign for Remain if selected? Adele Ward – Barnet
I campaigned hard to Remain and continue to campaign to expose the harms of leaving the EU. I sit on City Hall’s EU Exit Working Groupand have made sure that EU citizens’ voices have been heard and that the impact of leaving the EU on small businesses is understood and assistance given. Last week I raised with Nick Hurd, Minister for London the precarious situation of micro businesses preparing for EU exit.
I’m proud that it was a Green Group motion that got the Mayor to speak out for a People’s Vote.
13. Some candidates allude specifically to the unquestionable need for more housing, particularly social and affordable housing. My concerns is that, often, large-scale developments are in direct conflict with environmental objectives. Have you/will you consider improved legislation and regulation around planning and development in order to ensure that the much needed developments also maintain and prefereably increase our city’s green infrastructure and environmental credentials? Jessica Stocks – Wandsworth
Overcrowding is increasing and it is unquestionable that we need more homes in London for social rent. However it is crucial we build on brownfield land first rather than using green spaces that are so important for our mental health and well being as well as for protecting biodiversity and providing resilience against climate change impacts like extreme rainfall and flooding. My recent report on Farming in the Green Belt found that farmers find it hard to get access to land for a decent period to enable sustainable farming practice, this is probably a consequence of land-banking for future development.