The Council election – a fascinating and humbling experience

You can see the full election result at http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200327/election_results/2327/2018_borough_council_election_results_-_3_may/20 but in a nutshell West Hill Ward elected two Labour Councillors, Angela Ireland and Peter Carpenter, and me. By giving me 4,002 votes (out of a total 6,000 cast in the Ward), by some way the highest total of any candidate on the night (actually I understand the largest vote in the history of Wandsworth Borough Council except for 2010 when there was a high turnout because of the General Election on the same day), I believe we delivered powerful message to both of the political parties – that we do expect more of our representatives than three and a half years of silence and a (frankly rather ‘project fear’) blitz campaign. Every year I will be asking for an official statement about the numbers of questions all 60 councillors have asked on behalf of their residents as it was a bit of an eye-opener when my former Independent colleague James Cousins asked that question this year. It will also give you the information to hold me and other new councillors to account. The Council is now made up of 33 Conservatives, 26 Labour and me.

The other thing that I really liked was the fact that our turnout was greater than 50% (51.2%) which I think was the highest in the Borough. Sadly these days in local elections it is extremely rare for more than half of those eligible to vote actually to do so – I hope others will notice that when residents and councillors work together on issues people will come out to vote and engage in our democratic process.

THE NEW COUNCILLORS

I would like to congratulate Angela and Peter for their election to the Ward. I have known both of them for some time. Angela has been a very effective chair of the Edgecombe Hall Residents’ Association and we have worked together on a number of issues, not least recently on the proposed imposition of sprinklers in all rooms of 10+ storey council blocks. Peter has represented Roehampton and Putney Heath Ward for eight years and is an intelligent man with a particular interest in council finances. I am looking forward to working with them both. A special word for Nobuco Hara – it is always difficult to be the one who misses out in these circumstances and I know from the positive comments I heard after the hustings at the Gardens Tennis Club a couple of weeks ago that she was well thought of and brought a new perspective to local issues.

THE CAMPAIGN

I thought that all the candidates fought a robust and effective campaign and I am sure any of them would have made highly effective councillors. Anyone who offers themselves for public office has my respect. I have asked all the Labour and Conservative candidates (and will extend the invitation to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, though it is probably fair to say that they were not quite so high profile in the campaign) if we could sit down together and share our thoughts as to what we have learned about the Ward over recent weeks. It always seems to me a shame that the candidates in an election, as a group, pick up a huge amount of knowledge about what is going on but it is hardly ever captured and acted upon. I am delighted that Alison Rodwell, Salvatore Murtas and Robert Hughes have accepted as have the new Councillors and Nobuco.