Hackney town hall

New Hackney mayor to be elected tomorrow: by-election preview

Hackney will elect one of six candidates as its new mayor tomorrow in a by-election to replace Labour’s Phillip Glanville after his resignation in September.

The three major parties as well as the Greens, The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and an independent have fought a contest focused on housing and low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

Glanville resigned after it emerged he still socialised with former councillor Tom Dewey, despite knowing of Dewey’s arrest for possession of indecent images of children.

Green Party candidate and Dalston councillor, Zoë Garbett said:  “I’ve lived in Hackney for more than ten years, and I’ve been really active locally and people have said that to me on the doorstep.

“You show up? I’ve seen you at things. I’ve seen you at this police protest, I’ve seen you at the Morning Lane people space, I’ve seen you at the market.

“People start to trust you, recognise you and see what your values are.

“We’re the kind of party which shows up for communities. We’re dedicated to local issues and that really resonates with people.”

GO AGAINST THE GREEN: Garbett proposes to scrap the current mayoral system

Hackney is one of just five London boroughs to hold the position of directly-elected mayor.

But Garbett has vowed to hold a referendum on the position if victorious, as well as maintaining LTNs.

Although she argues the current model doesn’t work, she thinks a coherent network is possible.

Garbett is also the Green Party candidate for next year’s London Mayor election but this is no distraction for her.

She said: “I think they work really well together.

“Hackney has a range of issues and things which need to be solved from a London level.

“It all combines to be the same advocacy and fighting for that change in better, healthier, happier life.”

The new mayor will have to work closely with the council, where Labour hold 50 of 57 seats.

They will lead the council and its services but also need to select councillors to fill up their cabinet.

Yet Garbett, who came second last time out with 17% of the vote, is not phased by this.

She said: “There are lots of things we agree on like LTNs and the climate work they’ve been doing.

“A lot of times we’ve been saying ‘yes and…’ It’s about finding common ground and working for residents.

“I’m hopeful that if elected people would be able to work with me in that capacity and hold me to account the same way I hold the current administration to account.”

However, Labour candidate and Cazenove councillor Caroline Woodley is the only canndidate not to attend a single hustings.

Garbett said: “It’s really disappointing, at a time when trust in politicians is incredibly low and people feel not heard at a national and local level.

“You need to be accessible, you need to be held publicly to account and be cross-examined.

“People want to have access to you and be able to speak to you. I think it sets the tone for the kind of mayor you’re going to be.

“It also comes after what we’re hearing about the way Labour have been treating their members, just amongst this situation that’s led us here.”

OFF-STUMP: Labour have not appeared at any of the hustings

Cries of ‘shame’ from the audience met Woodley’s absenteeism at Monday evening’s hustings.

At the event, independent candidate Peter Smorthit said: “It says everything you need to know.

“They don’t want to answer the question why we’re having this election.”

Making up the ballot will be Simche Steinberger for the Conservatives, Simon De Deney for the Liberal Democrats, and TUSC’s Annoesjka Valent.

Valent will take a workers wage if elected, not the £89,000 salary, and Smorthit will scrap low traffic neighbourhoods altogether.

Both have also joined the call for a referendum of the position of a directly-elected mayor.

The new mayor will be the third to hold the directly-elected position.

This will, however, be the first contest under first-past-the-post after the government scrapped the system previously used earlier this year.

The new mayor will see out the current term of office set to end in 2026.

Polling booths will be open from 7am-10pm tomorrow and the count will begin on Friday.

The Labour Party declined to be interviewed and refused to provide comment for this piece.

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