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North London council by-election coincides with UK General Election as four candidates vie for seat

On the same day as the UK General Election, four candidates are set to fight it out for a North London council seat after a recent resignation triggered a by-election. The candidates have thrown their hat into the ring to replace a councillor who has represented the area for a decade.

Eleanor Southwood MBE, who also previously held two Cabinet positions on Brent Council, stepped down from her position as councillor for Queens Park last month. Her departure means the ward is in need of a new representative, with a by-election set to take place on July 4 – the same day that the electorate will go to the polls in the national election.

Candidates representing the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, and Green Party have now been revealed – which includes relatives of actress Helena Bonham Carter and former PM David Cameron. Meet the candidates below and hear what their priorities are for Queen’s Park…

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Leslie Smith – Labour Party

North London council by-election coincides with UK General Election as four candidates vie for seat Harrow Online
Leslie Smith. Leslie Smith is the candidate for Labour. Image Credit: Brent Labour. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

I’ve lived in Queen’s Park ward for 20 years, brought up a daughter here and been a governor of local schools. It’s a friendly neighbourhood and we love living here. I’ve had a long, successful, high-commitment business career but now I want to make more time to support our community.

Queens Park is a great place to live. But far too many families find it hard to make ends meet. I’m glad Brent’s Resident Support Fund (RSF) can help give families a lifeline when they need it.  We also need affordable housing, especially for young families. Brent’s homeless caseload is rising and I want to help the council’s efforts to create more affordable housing. The private landlord licensing scheme will make a real difference to tenants’ security living standards.

We have great transport links but we’ve waited far too long for Queens Park to be made accessible. Parents are still lugging pushchairs up stairs 17 years after I did and people with disabilities and older residents have no step free access. Local people, supported by QPARA, have been pressing DfT for step free access for years and we need to keep the pressure up.  We also need to work with local residents to make sure that we manage traffic to keep children safe and reduce congestion where we can.

Brent’s a hard working borough. As its most southern ward it’s easy for people here to feel overlooked.  We’ve got two great councillors in Neil Nerva and Steve Crabb and I want to work with them to make sure that from Kensal Green to Queen’s Park we make local voices heard.

Virginia Bonham Carter – Liberal Democrats 

North London council by-election coincides with UK General Election as four candidates vie for seat Harrow Online
Virginia Bonham Carter. Virginia Bonham Carter, cousin of Helena, is representing the Liberal Democrats. Image Credit: Virginia Bonham Carter. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

My name is Virginia and I have lived in the Queen’s Park ward for over thirty years. I have served as a local school governor, a chair of the residents’ association with which I am still involved and I am a trustee of the Queen’s Park Book Festival.

I’m standing in the by-election in the Queen’s Park Ward to help the small but active Liberal Democrat council group led by Cllr Anton Georgiou. We can provide opposition and scrutiny to the huge Labour majority on Brent Council. Labour has been in power for over 12 years while also controlling the Greater London Authority.

I’m writing this at 8.30am and there is total and utter traffic mayhem due to an ill-thought-out scheme. We need an origin and destination study to properly understand and solve the problem. Related to this is that Kensal Green & Queen’s Park stations need lifts – if public transport is to be used by all it needs to be accessible to all – a promise often made and not kept.

Failed waste management arrangements have led to dirtier streets awash with fly-tipping, fragile blue bags and waste that has spilled out of them.

We have to work on providing safe streets for our young people if we wish them to walk or cycle to and from school. We must protect our doctors’ surgeries so people can telephone for an appointment with a GP locally. The environment we live in matters – whether it is the condition of our roads and pavements, quality of local waterways or the air we breath. The Liberal Democrats stand up for all these things with a proper, pragmatic manifesto.

I’m only sorry this by-election takes place on the same day as the general election, which gives us less time to talk about local issues important to those of us who live and work in Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise and Kensal Green.

Emily Sheffield – Conservative Party

North London council by-election coincides with UK General Election as four candidates vie for seat Harrow Online
Emily Sheffield. Emily Sheffield is the sister-in-law of former PM David Cameron and will be standing to represent the Conservatives in Queen\’s Park. Image Credit: Emily Sheffield. Permission to use with all LDRS partners
We know on July 4th we have a big decision to make on the future of this country. But, just as importantly, in the Queen’s Park ward, we have local say that day, as there is an opportunity to vote for a new councillor.
And I am writing to introduce myself as the Conservative candidate for that council role. I have lived in the area for two decades and brought up my sons here with my husband.
This is our home. And it’s a wonderful place to raise a family, and make friends. But there is currently no opposition to Labour in the ward and very few on the Council – this means no one is there to hold their actions to account. I began my career at The Evening Standard as a young journalist, eventually becoming Editor, so have spent my working life standing up for Londoners. I will be a strong voice for you on Brent Council, defending this ward. I have been canvassing for your concerns on the doorstep and I can promise:
  • I will challenge unworkable traffic schemes in the ward
  • Ask the tough questions on the vast planned development at Sainsbury’s on how that will affect residents in Kensal Rise
  • Question strategy behind the constant rotation of roadworks on Chamberlayne Road that impact so many
 I will also protect our local green spaces, such as the South Hampstead Cricket Club, frequently used by Queens Park children. Brent Council have recently reduced street litter sweeping, and spent years refusing to fix potholes. Our teenagers get mugged for their phones after dark – we need bobbies on the beat and better CCTV. But I will also champion the interests of local business and local charities, like Laurence’s Larder and the nearby Avenues Youth Club.
I am out every evening in the ward, knocking on doors, introducing myself and catching up with friends. And over the next two weeks I hope to meet as many residents as possible to hear your views. And hopefully gain your confidence and vote to be your local champion on July 4th.

Ricardo Davies – Green Party

North London council by-election coincides with UK General Election as four candidates vie for seat Harrow Online
Ricardo Davies. Ricardo Davies is the candidate for the Green Party. Image Credit: Brent Greens. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

Queen’s Park is our target council ward, I understand how impactful and important it will be to have a Green councillor in Brent. I’m a northerner who first moved to London in 2019, first visiting the area and later in 2020 moving to Queens Park. The ward is representative of some of the best aspects of London, we have a diverse community, great local independent business and some of the best green spaces in the city. Whilst there are great things about the ward and the wider borough, there are issues such as deprivation and inequality.

As a young renter I have been massively affected by poor quality housing and the wider ongoing housing crisis. This motivated me to be proactive and making change in the community, and I’m an active member of the Brent London renter’s union organising committee. My involvement in the union has brought me all around the borough and allowed me to engage with the wide and wonderful communities we have in the borough.

I want to be the candidate that represents the best of our borough, and want to show what the Green Party can do for Brent. Queens Park and Brent deserve a councillor who wants to deliver for the people. We need a councillor who will hold the complacent Labour majority to account.

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