The climate crisis will be ‘top priority’ for London whoever wins next week’s London Assembly elections, say the candidates for the Ealing and Hillingdon seat.
At an online hustings on Wednesday, all five candidates agreed to sign the Friends of the Earth Climate Pledge which states: “If I am elected to the London Assembly, I will make the climate crisis a top priority in considering all the Mayor of London’s decisions, and push the Mayor for tougher action on climate, as illustrated Friends of the Earth’s Climate Action Plan for London.”
Ealing and Hillingdon’s candidates for the election on May 6th are: Onkar Sahota (Labour and Co-operative), Marijn van de Geer (Green), Anthony Goodwin (Reform UK), Hussain Khan (Liberal Democrats) and Gregory Stafford (Conservative and Unionist).
Rich Blake-Lobb, Pastor of Yiewsley Baptist Church, chaired the hustings and questions were sent in by people signing up for the online event. They covered subjects as diverse as how to reduce London’s emissions, air pollution, Heathrow airport, recycling, cycle lanes, electric cars and many more.
Onkar Sahota, who currently holds the seat, said that Labour had improved air quality in London by one third, would extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone to the north and south circular roads and make London zero carbon by 2030.
Gregory Stafford said polluting vehicles should be transformed including all London’s buses made electric by the end of the term. He said there was a real opportunity to create about 11,000 green jobs and he would be pushing the Mayor to invest to grow the green job economy.
Anthony Goodwin said that people thought it was a good idea to introduce low traffic neighbourhoods and cycle lanes but it was important not to disregard the needs of other people.
Hussain Khan said the LibDems wanted a full rollout of zero emission buses by 2030, investment in green transport technology, money spent on innovation not on polluting new roadways like the Silvertown Tunnel under the River Thames in East London and cycle schemes encouraged.
Marijn van de Geer said that the climate emergency declared by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan had originally been proposed by Green Assembly member Caroline Russell. The Green Party wants all Greater London Authority investment to divest from fossil fuels, green jobs that would include retrofitting insulation, renewable energy and greening the boroughs and cycle paths that were connected up. She said electric cars – while better than petrol cars – were not the solution to the climate crisis and all decisions made should have a climate and environmental impact assessment.
A question about Heathrow airport had been sent in by a campaigner who had been fighting its expansion for 28 years. She said that living in Harmondsworth she had been unable to bury her husband in the village due to the constant pressure of Heathrow destroying the community.
Four of the candidates agreed they were against the expansion of Heathrow but Anthony Goodwin said we had to look at the ramifications on people’s lives.
The hustings concluded with a short statement from each of the candidates. Anthony Goodwin said that whole point of Reform UK was to change politics as they felt the two main parties had been mismanaging and misinterpreting what people wanted. Gregory Stafford said London needed someone to stand up to whoever becomes Mayor and that as a Conservative councillor in Ealing he had stood up against his own party on HS2 and Heathrow. Onkar Sahota said that he had gone into politics because as a doctor he cared about the NHS. But he attacked the Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey whom he accused of lying to Londoners. Marijn van de Geer said that we were now at the point where the climate crisis had to be taken seriously and that Greens put planet and people over profit and power. Hussain Khan concluded the hustings by saying that London had to play its part in tackling the global climate emergency and that he wanted to make London the leading green city.
Friends of the Earth local groups will be contacting the successful candidate at a later date to see how the Climate Pledge is being implemented.
For a video of the hustings, please follow this link: