Independent candidate Ed Pond says “mass development” is the reason he’s putting himself forward in the north of the borough.

The 36-year-old online bookseller, running for the new Hale End and Highams Park South ward, believes residents have a lot of anger and distrust towards mainstream parties at the moment.

A former Labour party member, he insists neither Conservatives or Labour councillors are able to “genuinely reflect the wishes” of residents.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said: “I think now is a time to present credible alternatives to both [parties]. Even if [councillors] are nice people – ultimately it is their party policy that is influencing what they do. 

“They cannot genuinely reflect the wishes of local residents because they are answerable to their party, with its politics and tactics – ultimately their hands are tied.”

The independent candidate is “anti-large scale development”, arguing new buildings should fit in with their surroundings. He added: “I’m not against all developments, I know we need some, it just shouldn’t be a real imposition on the community and I think a lot of people sense that.”

Can residents be confident that an independent councillor has what it takes?

He answered: “A lot of a councillor’s job is casework… I think really, the number one duty is helping people out. That doesn’t change whether one is independent or not.”

He added: “if you want an alternative you have to be prepared to vote for that alternative, otherwise you’re going to keep getting the same thing.”

One of Ed’s key promises is that he wouldn’t have a political party holding him back from speaking for residents in council meetings.

He said: “I would be able to get up there and speak my mind and tell them what people are telling me, rather than playing it tactically. 

“[Councillors] should not be anxious about saying what they really think, so long as they are constructive they should be able to say it.”