Meet the candidates battling for votes in East Ham's by-election
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Voters will be heading to the polls next month with four elections due to take place in the borough.
On May 6, those who are eligible can vote in elections for the mayor of London and London Assembly, as well as in a referendum on how Newham Council is governed and for residents of East Ham Central ward, in a by-election to elect a new councillor.
The Recorder invited the six by-election candidates to introduce themselves and explain why people should vote for them.
This is what each had to say, presented in alphabetical order of surname.
Lois Austin – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
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Lois Austin is a trade union organiser and Socialist Party activist who lives in Katherine Road, East Ham.
She has a decades-long record of fighting austerity, gentrification, privatisation, poverty and racism.
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Newham has the worst housing crisis in the country. Lois stands for repopulating the Carpenters Estate, building 100 per cent council homes on public land and introducing rent controls.
Newham Council last reported its “total usable reserves” in 2020, as £559 million. Although much of these reserves are presently ‘earmarked’ for specific functions, in most cases the council itself decides this.
The current administration’s own draft budget proposes “to utilise other earmarked reserves” rather than the £13 million it has allocated into “general fund” reserves.*
Newham Council's total reserves over £1.7billion. But instead of investing in jobs, homes and services, the council chooses cuts and charges.
Lois is working with campaigners in Newham to fight these cuts, and propose an alternative, no-cuts, needs-based budget. This would use council resources, including reserves and borrowing powers, to invest in jobs, homes and services – alongside fighting for full funding from the government.
Scrap new parking charges. Save Queen’s Market, Hamara Ghar elderly accommodation and Stratford Circus Arts Centre.
Ed Comaromi - Liberal Democrat Party
Ed is a senior marketing manager for a data intelligence company.
He moved to London as a 16-year-old from Romania, and now lives in East Ham Central ward. He understands the issues residents face because his family face them too. He speaks five languages, and feels this helps him engage with East Ham Central’s diverse community.
He was motivated to stand due to the complacency with which he believes Labour treats residents. With no opposition councillor on Newham Council, even usual Labour voters tell him this does not best serve the borough’s needs.
He has three priority issues he will fight for.
First, an end to the Labour council’s emissions-based parking permit charges, which hurt the least well-off the most, and will do nothing to reduce pollution.
Second, to clean up East Ham by reducing fly-tipping, pollution and improving upon the worst recycling rate in the country.
Finally, Ed is committed to supporting the pandemic recovery. If elected, he will be a strong voice in getting support for businesses and residents.
SK Zakir Hossain - Conservative Party
Zakir came from Bangladesh in 2014, wanting to build a better future for his family in the UK.
He lives in the East Ham Central ward, where his children attend local schools. Through his commitment to high educational standards, Zakir was elected as a parent governor of two schools.
He runs a small business and has been an active member of the community supporting local projects and causes.
Zakir is standing because he believes the council is failing East Ham - every year the council asks for more money, and then wastes it, he says.
So Zakir will fight against any further council tax increases and the MiPermit Scheme.
He also has a plan to get a grip on crime by promoting his “street watch scheme” to bring the community and police together.
Zakir said: “East Ham has given me everything and now I want to give back.”
Paul Jobson - Christian Peoples Alliance Party
Paul Jobson worked in various engineering disciplines as a technician and has lived in Newham for many years, adding value to the community.
Restoring family values is his Christian ethic. He will introduce far-reaching youth initiatives that instil values of responsibility, such as better after-school clubs.
CPA will help businesses by halving commercial rates - made possible by introducing a turnover tax all businesses will pay, including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others.
Moreover, since a lot of money is coming into Newham from investment projects, CPA will use this to care for the poor and, where possible, cut council tax.
Paul will also focus on affordable housing and better maintenance of the borough. He will cut crime by re-habilitating offenders using proven ventures that really do work, and is committed to freedom of speech as long as there are no threats of violence.
Danny Keeling - Green Party
We have an opportunity to inject democracy into Newham by electing a sole opposition councillor, and an independent voice for East Ham Central.
A one-party council is not healthy for democracy. A vote for me, and a vote for the committee system in the referendum, is a vote for democracy and for change.
I know we need to keep the Tories out, who have wreaked havoc with cuts and their failure to tackle the Covid crisis. I assure you, however you vote, Labour will still run the council.
I will fight to ensure that Newham remains a home for you. Gentrification and rising house prices risk pricing you out of the borough, which the council must fight by demanding rent controls, and by building comfortable and safe social housing for people to build their lives in.
If you put your trust in me, I will not let you down.
Farah Nazeer - Labour Party
Farah works for a large women’s organisation, supporting survivors of domestic abuse. She grew up and has been living in Newham for the last 20 years.
She is a passionate local campaigner who has been working on issues ranging from children’s rights, fighting climate change and end of life care.
Her priorities for East Ham Central are safety, housing, the environment and being a strong advocate for residents.
She wants to make the streets safer by working closely with a visible and trusted community policing.
She wants to work with the mayor to support the delivery of much-needed social rental homes to tackle the housing crisis and address rogue landlords.
She wants to tackle fly-tipping by working on an innovative campaign co-designed by Newham residents and the council.
She intends to be a visible and responsive ward councillor advocating for the residents of East Ham Central.
Note: A previous version of this story included a footnote based on information provided to this newspaper by Newham Council, which said only a small fraction of the council’s reserves is legally usable. It has been removed for accuracy, and we are happy to set the record straight.