Isabelle Anderson is standing as our candidate for the Stratford and New Town by-election. As a local resident, mum and teaching assistant – she knows how much Newham needs a voice of opposition on the Council. I caught up with her to find out about her love of Newham and why residents should vote for her.
What is your name and where do you come from?
My name is Isabelle Anderson. I was born and raised in London and moved to Newham when I was 12 years old.
Why did you decide to join the Green Party?
I have always voted Green but didn’t see myself being active in politics, instead preferring community work and direct action. Last year however, with an election on the horizon and a growing sense that little will be achieved without changing the balance of power in this country, I decided to join the Green Party. Importantly for me, the Green Party takes two crucial standpoints that set us apart from every other political party.
Firstly, we recognise that our earth’s resources are finite and precious. The relentless pursuit of economic growth cannot continue indefinitely without great harm to people and planet. Furthermore, our current economic model concentrates wealth in the pockets of the few at the expense of the rest of us. This has to change.
Secondly, the Green Party stands for equality and democracy. It is the only party that seeks to recognise everyone’s unique contribution to society. When Labour and the Conservatives promise to deliver to ‘hard-working families’, they insult the huge number of people in the UK who are contributing to our society through unpaid work, including more than 6 million carers. The Green Party recognises that not everything that is valuable has a price. We believe that everyone has worth, whether employed or unemployed, retired, volunteering, or caring for children, the elderly and the sick.
What is the best thing about living in the Stratford and New Town ward?
I love so many things about living in Stratford! If I had to choose one it would be the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I spend many days, rain or shine, in the wonderful Tumbling Bay playground with my two-year-old son. I feel so grateful to have one of the best children’s playgrounds in the country right on my doorstep. We are blessed with so many great places for children in Stratford such as Discover, Stratford Circus and the fantastic children’s centres and their dedicated staff.
What 3 facts might people not know about you?
- Back in the early 2000s before London won the Olympic bid, I was a conservation volunteer on the river Lea. This mainly involved the thankless task of hacking back Japanese knotweed. Today, I am still in awe of the transformation from neglected wasteland to green and tranquil oasis!
- As a teenager, I was a volunteer police cadet in Newham. Being new to the area at the time, it was a great way to get to know our community and meet people. From getting lost in the Essex countryside while orienteering to teaching local school children cycling proficiency, it was a great experience.
- I am happiest outdoors: in the woods, up a mountain or with my hands in the soil! My passion is getting more children outside in nature. I work part-time as a Forest School assistant where I encourage children to climb trees, get muddy and explore their surroundings!
Voting Green in Stratford and New Town
Why should residents vote for you?
Newham Council has forgotten that it represents us, the people of Newham! Since 2010, Newham has been a one party state with 100% of councillors representing Labour. In this time Stratford has seen an explosion in new housing developments, with prices out of reach of most local residents, many of whom are on below-average incomes. As your councillor I would speak out against these developments, which offer no benefit to local people and suck the life out of our area. I will ensure that the voices of the people of Stratford and New Town are heard by our complacent council.
What do you think are the important issues for Stratford and New Town?
We need affordable housing. With 24,000 people on the council housing list in Newham, building more homes for social rent is a priority. Much of the new housing recently constructed in Newham is 100% private, unaffordable and advertised to buyers living overseas. These investment properties then sit empty or become buy-to-lets, taking advantage of high rents in London and a lining the pockets of greedy landlords. As a young family on a modest income struggling to pay spiralling rents Newham, this is an issue close to my heart. Credit must be given to Newham Council for it’s scheme to license private landlords but the council could and should be doing so much more.
If you vote for me to be your councillor I will:
- Push for a greater proportion of social and genuinely affordable housing for new developments.
- Lobby for measures that protect tenants such as rent caps and longer tenancies.
- Bring empty homes back into use, including the thousands of properties on the Carpenters estate which have sat empty for almost a decade.
- Ensure that residents benefit from the regeneration of Stratford and fight to stop locals being priced out.
It’s time to tackle air pollution. Newham has some of the worst air quality in the UK and, according to research by the London Assembly, as many as 9% of deaths in London can be attributed to air pollution. As a mother I worry a great deal about the impact of air pollution on my son’s health and I know I’m not alone. As your councillor I will champion initiatives to make our streets more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists. 20 mph speed limits and better road layouts can make our streets safer, meaning that more people choose to walk and cycle. By encouraging Stratford primary schools to start a ‘walking bus’ for pupils, we can reduce traffic and help more children to be healthy and active. Diesel vehicles contribute to harmful particulate pollution. I will campaign for more hybrid buses for Stratford and to limit the hours when HGVs can use our roads. Cleaner, greener streets will not only improve our health but also strengthen our community and benefit local business as more of us choose to leave our cars at home and walk or cycle instead.
For people who are reluctant to vote, for whatever reason, why should they take part in the General Election?
There’s a very good reason to take part – you could decide the result of the election! In the 2010 general election, non-voters outnumbered the supporters of every single political party. By choosing to vote on the 7th May 2015, those people could have a huge effect on the outcome of the election.
Just for fun
Summer or winter?
I work outdoors and love all the seasons! I like summer best when the sun’s shining and winter when it snows!
Early bird or night owl?
I dream of watching the sun rise but unfortunately I think I’ll always be an owl.
Tea or coffee?
A cup of strong tea and a chocolate digestive to dunk!
Dogs or cats?
I once worked on an organic farm in Wales. The owner had to go away for a few days and left me in charge of the farm and walking her lively dogs. I had never walked a dog before. After a traumatic experience one evening involving a disappearing dog, the muck heap and rapidly falling darkness, I will have to choose cats! (No dogs came to any harm.)
Vanilla or chocolate?
Chocolate – preferably on a biscuit (see above).
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