Independents for Waltham Forest!

Independents for Waltham Forest!

First published in Blogs East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by

If you’re sick of this council’s shenanigans and ready to vote for a change, come to a meeting this Sunday afternoon. Local residents have? been thinking about standing as independent candidates in next year’s council elections, and your views will count.

For years we’ve watched our heritage being closed down, destroyed or dying of neglect. Public money squandered on failed schemes or vanishing through contracts with no paperwork to be found. Public assets being sold off or given away. Sham consultations whose results are ignored.

Some councillors are genuine, but others do little except pocket their fat allowances. Some use Waltham Forest as a stepping stone to a seat in parliament, so their main concern is pleasing their party leaders – not us.

A number of campaigns have sprung up to defend local amenities such as the libraries, William Morris gallery, cinema, theatre, playing fields, market, dog track, town centre and all the rest. But it’s an uphill struggle, when the Labour-LibDem ruling group know they’re never likely to lose power to Conservatives or minority parties.

That’s where a group of independent councillors could make a real difference.

For a start, they could make sure the voters know what’s going on behind closed doors. Their very presence could make other councillors a bit nervous about agreeing to schemes the voters wouldn’t like. They could insist that local concerns take priority – as they are supposed to in local government. They could ensure that council officers are carrying out council policy. They would have access to information that campaigners struggle to wrest from the council under Freedom of Information law.

An independent candidate’s chances of being elected, and doing any good, rest on two points: First, they must be GENUINELY INDEPENDENT. This movement needs the support of people of all political backgrounds and none. A genuine independent could win the backing of the many decent Tories, Labour stalwarts, Liberals, leftwingers and non-political people who want to clean up this council.

But any alliance with a political party would be the kiss of death, for obvious reasons. The majority who don’t support that party won’t vote for an ‘independent’ candidate who is linked with it.

Second, they must focus on LOCAL ISSUES ONLY. Borough councils have no control over central government or international affairs, and they’re making empty gestures if they pretend they have. We don’t need any futile posturing. There’s enough that needs putting right in Waltham Forest, where councillors actually can make a difference. That’s what a councillor should be doing.

Would you be prepared to stand as a candidate yourself? Or to help campaign for an independent? Have you got ideas to share? Or do you just want to find out more about loosening the stranglehold of a Labour-LibDem coalition that brings shame on both its parties?

Come to the public meeting at St Mary’s school, The Drive, Walthamstow (entrance in Rectory Road E17), 2pm, Sunday 15 November. Your views could help change Waltham Forest for the better.


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