It’s now only 34 short days until Londoners go to the polls to select a total of 1,817 Councillors across 32 Boroughs.
These sets of elections are hugely important for those interested in the built environment. Political and community discomfort around development is playing out in campaign literature across London already, with political promises to prevent excessive height and density a recurring theme, particularly in suburban areas.
Who will win and who will lose will be determined in the next five weeks. To guide you through, we will be reporting on the best…and the worst of the campaigns across the capital.
Wandsworth Tories slice Council Tax – but will it be enough to save their bacon?
Wandsworth is the only Council in the UK to cut Council Tax for the next financial year.
Under the campaign slogan ‘keeping Wandsworth special’ the Conservatives’ central pledge is a cut to Council tax by 1%. This follows their decision to freeze Council rent and energy costs for their tenants, in part to try and win the votes of traditional Labour supporters.
The political odds look stacked against the Wandsworth Tories as they lost all but one ward to Labour in the 2021 Mayoral elections, but we have been here before. Council Tax has always been Labour’s Achilles heel and in the context of a cost-of-living crisis, this might once keep London’s flagship low-tax borough blue.
Croydon Mayoral Candidate: Building on cracked foundations?
Labour’s Mayoral Candidate pledges to scrap draft Local Plan if elected
Labour’s Croydon Mayoral hopeful, Val Shawcross, released a video outside a recent development stating that Croydon “needs a new direction on planning, build houses not flats”. Shawcross appears alongside her ‘planning adviser’ who concedes that ‘Croydon well ahead with its targets for building new homes’.
This comes in the wake of criticism of the current draft Local Plan which has been described as a “developers’ charter” by opponents. Tory Mayoral Candidate Jason Perry has been similarly critical of Labour’s planning policies.
Whoever wins, Croydon’s future planning policies could be rebuilt…brick by brick.
#Croydon needs to go in a new direction on planning. Build houses not flats, stop packing every small space with overbearing ugly blocks and pay attention to design. Let’s keep Croydon’s green attractive character & soul. https://t.co/0WYoukPwxZ pic.twitter.com/j9MgvLm1Gg
— Valerie Shawcross (@ValShawcross) March 20, 2022
Haringey: Another Corbynista bites the dust
There’s good news for Labour moderates in Haringey as key moderates Mike Hakata and Julie Davies avoided the chop orchestrated by Momentum.
The return of Cllr Hakata and Cllr Davies signals the continuing trend of recent Haringey selections, and that is the reduced influence of many of the architects of the self-proclaimed ‘Corbyn Council’. Previous Leader Joseph Ejiofor was already banned by the Labour Party for trying to seek re-selection.
It is expected that Labour will win Haringey comfortably and the return of a more centrist group could be good news for our industry, and allow for more pragmatic decision making around planning.
Enfield Tories: Labour’s recycling rates turning voters Green?
The Conservative’s in Enfield are attacking Labour on missing their recycling target by a whopping 31%.
Unlike in previous local elections, environmental pledges are featuring far more prominently this cycle, and in the light of the years of concern around the North London’s Waste Authorities new incinerator in Upper Edmonton this is too good of an opportunity to turn down for Enfield’s Conservatives.
Barnet Tories reaffirm pledge to not “impose” Low Traffic Measures
The national mood music and attitudes toward the national government around “partygate” mean the Tories could be in trouble this May. That includes Barnet Council which continues to be a top target for Labour.
Barnet residents have an undeniable connection to their cars so this week the Tories have turned to drivers as a way to combat the red advance. They are reaffirming their commitment to not impose so-called Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs).
LTNs are one of the big issues in 2022 in suburban boroughs – we’ve already seen in Ealing how politically toxic the issue can be.
On the third day he rose again…
In a break from regular scheduled election programming of bins and potholes, we have the rather unusual campaign video from “Resurrection Whitechapel” promoted by former Tower Hamlets First Councillor, Shahed Ali.
Whitechapel ward, Make the Change. Vote SHAHED ALI on 5th May for a strong capable voice. pic.twitter.com/AMGSXxX70E
— Shahed Ali (@ShahedAliBey) March 25, 2022