Vote for me in Charlton on Thursday: Pamela Ritchie (Women’s Equality Party)

Women's Equality Party in Nadine Street
Pamela Ritchie (second right) with campaigners and Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker on the campaign trail in Nadine Street

Charlton goes to the polls on Thursday in the Greenwich Council elections. Women’s Equality Party candidate PAMELA RITCHIE answers our questions on what she hopes to achieve…

1. Why Charlton?
I’ve lived in Charlton for 14 years, having grown up just the other side of Shooters Hill in Welling. I love the area and the diverse community we have and I want to make sure Charlton gets its fair share of investment to make sure it remains a vibrant, diverse and desirable place to live.

2. What can you bring to the job of being a councillor?
I like to get things done, and I am dedicated and not afraid of working hard. The best results come from being able to work collaboratively, setting aside differences and focusing on what we all have in common in order to achieve good outcomes for everyone. As a party WE were created to be a new collaborative political force in UK politics uniting people of all genders, ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and experiences in the shared determination to see women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities so that everyone can flourish.

I’m a computer programmer in my day job, working with data collection and reporting. I’m good at working through requirements of a client, turn that into a technical spec and explain the process in plain language for everyone to understand.

I’m a problem solver and a creative thinker, often able to come up with a different approach to a task, when all options look like dead ends.

I am an approachable, adaptable person who is not afraid to speak up, which I would always ensure I do on behalf of residents.

3. What is Greenwich Council good at?
I love the arts and cultural events that the council help fund and support in Greenwich. I am a big fan of the variety and innovative use of space – along with the spectacle that the Greenwich & Docklands Festival brings each year and particularly bringing Greenwich Pride to the centre of Greenwich town, closing the roads around the market.

I am proud to see so many visitors come and see our home borough stand out with the Cutty Sark & the maritime museum, the Tall Ships festival and the fantastic viewing points for the marathon.

4. What does Greenwich Council need to improve at?
Communication and accessing information. The website is a very difficult place to navigate – even if you know exactly what you are looking for & have found it before on the site, its not intuitive and the search function doesn’t seem to help you get the information you need to.

There are so many resources that are available to residents that I have only become aware of in the last couple of years since getting involved with the Women’s Equality Party, that had I known about could have really helped me in the past, particularly when I was unemployed. I want to make sure all residents are aware of the help and support for carers that’s available locally.

If I am elected, I’ll be making sure I am available regularly to listen to residents’ concerns, creating a hub of information, bringing together different service providers to ensure residents have access to any support they need.

5. What makes Charlton special?
Charlton has some unique characteristics, the big one for me is Charlton House. It’s a beautiful building in fabulous surroundings, however I would like to bring it more into use by the public. I’d like to see the café open some evenings and weekends and to encourage different community groups to meet there at no charge. I’d love to walk in to visit the library and see a vibrant mix of people of all ages and backgrounds, knitting, playing board games or chatting about the latest Charlton Athletic result.

This would be the centre for my ideas around tackling loneliness, ensuring this space is accessible for all and having information on hand for further help sign post anyone in need to local support and help that is available.

6. What are the biggest issues affecting the people of Charlton?
I’ve heard lots of things on the doorstep during this campaign, from pavements, pot holes and tree trimming – all things that can be solved if the funding can be allocated. Then there are the more complex issues such as housing and schools.

There is no simple solution to the housing issue, we have more than 10 thousand people on the housing waiting list in Greenwich. The current target of 35% affordable needs to be more ambitious, especially when we look at how a truly affordable rate is set within the context of the gender pay gap. We also need to ensure we are building the schools, doctors, dentists and transport network alongside so that all residents needs are met.

7. What are the biggest issues affecting Greenwich borough?
Air quality in Greenwich is a serious issue that demands immediate intervention, and yet we see plans in place with the cruise ship terminal, the Silvertown tunnel and Ikea set to open early 2019 – that will exacerbate the problem.

Toxic air is harming the health of all our residents, but especially those who spend more time outdoors in green spaces – namely, the children and predominantly female carers who are looking after them. With illegal levels of air pollution being recorded outside of local schools.

I want Greenwich to be leading the way with the diesel ban, encouraging electric vehicles and ensuring any planned housing has electric charging points in its plans.

The cost of childcare can be punishing, in particular for those on low incomes or wishing to undertake training or education. In the UK, the cost has been rising up to seven times faster than wages, with the greatest gap growing in London.

Nursery care providers are struggling to offer the 30 free hours of childcare as the government funding falls short of the actual cost. With 36% of children in Greenwich & Woolwich living in poverty, we need to ensure we are protecting vital services for families.

8. Why should people vote on Thursday?
Because representation matters, the people you have speaking up for you on the council chambers need to reflect the diversity of voices from the area.

Too many people choose not to vote in the local elections, however I would say they are more important to your every day life than a national election. Your local council control more than just bins and pot holes, it’s the planning applications, the trading standards and social care.

With the imminent arrival of universal credit, central government is devolving some of its financing to locally, one such example which will remove the ring fencing of funding for refuges putting this into the hands of the council to decide how much to allocate from a general pot of emergency accommodation.

We need to ensure we provide a secure and consistent pathway for women fleeing domestic abuse and that this is something that is prioritised from the emergency accommodation funding.

9. Charlton is on the brink of huge change with redevelopment due in Charlton Riverside. What will you do to make sure residents’ voices are taken seriously throughout this process?
I would make sure that all public meetings are widely advertised, with recordings and minutes of the meetings available for those unable to attend.

Consultation must be widely publicised & open for all to comment and raise concerns, not just those deemed immediately affected by the development.

I would make sure we push back to the developers to make sure the plans remain within the originally agreed master plan.

10. Why should the people of Charlton, whatever gender they are, give the Women’s Equality Party a vote?
Because equality is better for everyone.

Pamela Ritchie is standing for the Women’s Equality Party in Charlton ward. To find out more, visit womensequality.org.uk.

Charlton ward candidates (three are elected): Gary Dillon (Labour), Macharia Gakuru (Conservative), Ian Gerrard (Liberal Democrat), Rebecca Ireland (Liberal Democrat), Catherine Latham (Conservative), Clare Loops (Green), Maya Mann (Conservative), Gary Parker (Labour), Linda Perks (Labour), Pamela Ritchie (Women’s Equality Party), Charlie Rome (Liberal Democrat). Polls are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 3 May.

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