With Charlton going to the polls on Thursday to pick new councillors, The Charlton Champion asked each party if one of their candidates could answer a questionnaire about why they’re standing, what they’ve done, and what they can do. Here is Green candidate CLARE LOOPS…
1. Why Charlton?
Because it’s where I’ve lived for over 20 years; where I’ve raised my family. It’s my community, my neighbours, my friends.
2. What can you bring to the job of being a councillor?
If elected as a ward councillor for Charlton, I can bring my experience working in local government (including Greenwich) for many years as a strategic planner, responsible for leading a team of planning policy, conservation, urban design and sustainability officers. This experience makes me well suited to address many of the issues that matter to local people and gives me an in depth understanding about how local councils work.
In particular, I consider that my experience would serve particularly well matters surrounding development, the environment and our heritage.
In addition, I can bring an understanding of education matters: when my children were in primary school, I was elected as a parent governor, served as Chair of the governing body, and also was elected the parent governor representative for all primary schools across the borough, sitting on Greenwich’s children and young people scrutiny panel.
And finally, but in no way the least important, I can bring my honesty, empathy and strong ethical principles to the role of councillor.
3. What is Greenwich Council good at?
I’ve worked for Greenwich and know how hardworking and dedicated the staff is.
4. What does Greenwich Council need to improve at?
A key improvement would be a more open, transparent local government that involves residents and local businesses early and proactively in decisions that affect them.
One of my favourite walks takes me from my home near the station, down through the industrial area to the River Thames, past the Thames Barrier and then up through Barrier Park, Maryon Park and Maryon Wilson Park, then across to Charlton Park, past Charlton House, St Luke’s Church and then down home again.
Different routes take me past so many different landscapes, from the industry of the river to the hidden paths in the green spaces, and such a rich and varied history.. I love that all this – and more – is in my corner of London.
6. What are the biggest issues affecting the people of Charlton?
Issues that I think are important in Charlton are: reducing air pollution through improved public transport and safe cycle and walking routes; keeping our parks and streets and public spaces clean and in good repair; investing in Charlton Village to address its deteriorating condition (and high number of fast food takeaways); and, making sure that new development creates housing that is truly affordable for residents and also provides different types of homes so that we have a choice, particularly for young people, families, and seniors.
7. What are the biggest issues affecting Greenwich borough?
Addressing dangerously poor air quality! Particularly bad along Woolwich Road, Trafalgar Road and the Blackwall tunnel approach, and this is very likely to get worse when IKEA opens for business. The recent Council approval for a cruise liner terminal without clean onshore power, and the Silvertown tunnel, which is proposed only for road traffic, will only compound the problem, if they are built as currently proposed.
Ensuring that new housing is actually affordable for Greenwich’s residents, and that is the right type for young and old, families and singles, built together alongside social, community, green and transport infrastructure to create mixed, sustainable communities.
Providing good quality Council services even as funding continues to be cut by central Government, with a focus on health, social care, education and housing those most in need, but also services such as street cleaning, waste collection and repairing potholes, which can really make a difference to how people feel about their neighbourhoods.
8. Why should people vote on Thursday?
Voting for your local councillors is really important. It is our right to be represented by democratically elected people, who take the time to understand our issues and are the voice of Charlton in the town hall. Everyone who is eligible should register to vote and then vote! It’s the best way of ensuring that we are heard.
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?
Charlton, to the north of the railway line and south of the River Thames, which some people call ‘Charlton Riverside’ but to me is just another part of Charlton, has been changing over the last 25 years from an entirely industrial area to a major out-of-town centre retail area that is almost entirely car based.
Now that the industrial land use designations have been removed, residential development proposals are beginning and it will probably take another 25 years for the area to transform into a more residential neighbourhood.
The area benefits from a recently adopted master plan, which includes as part of its vision the objective of new development being integrated with the rest of Charlton.
For this to be successful, Charlton’s residents (and councillors) need to be involved in development proposals as they are being shaped, well before they are formal planning applications, so that they can actually influence what is being proposed, to ensure that new development will benefit existing and new residents.
If elected I would put forward a motion for residents and councillors to be consulted formally at the beginning of the pre-application process, before plans are drawn up. For Charlton in particular I know this will be effective, as Charlton already has a number of well organised residents’ groups that are keen to be involved. Charlton’s councillors need to be as well.
10 How can a Green vote make a difference?
Having even just one Green on the Council will make a difference. I think it’s safe to say that Greenwich is a Labour borough and will remain so. One feels though that Labour has become complacent as it has been in power in Greenwich since 1971.
If elected to represent Charlton, as a Green I will bring refreshing independence, and scrutiny: I’ll ask awkward questions when needed and challenge when things go wrong. I’ll work to make sure things are tackled properly.
Clare Loops is standing in Charlton ward for the Green Party. To find out more, visit greenwich.greenparty.org.uk
- See Labour councillor Gary Parker’s responses.
- See Lib Dem candidates’ responses.
- See Women’s Equality Party candidate Pamela Ritchie’s responses.
- See Conservative candidate Macharia Gakuru’s response.
- See the answers given to The Valley Hill Hub.
- See who’s standing in your ward, find manifestos and hustings
- Read what happened and see video from the Charlton ward hustings
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.