City & East AM John Biggs is ready to lead a changing Tower Hamlets


- Credit: Archant

The East End is an amazing place. One of its most obvious secrets is that while it may have a particular image in the national mind - characterised perhaps by the television series - it is in reality constantly changing. Our area is endlessly altered by the people who come to live here. And this is particularly true because traditionally most of those who came had little, except the hunger to succeed. It may have taken a while, perhaps waiting until the next generation, but most eventually did, with the support of strong local communities. For many the journey then continued with a move to the suburbs.

That model is now breaking down. This is because housing, traditionally cheap, has now become far more expensive. And because the supply of publicly owned housing on low rents has fallen. It is also because the job market has changed, and local industries have disappeared.

We all know these things are happening and that our area is changing. The question is what, if anything, should be done. And where it will end. As we reach the end of the local election campaign, in which I am of course standing to be Mayor, this is the the big question for which many are seeking answers.

There is no simple answer. There are many positive consequences of the massive recent investment, such as the greater range of shops and entertainment venues, an improved environment in many places, and a more outward looking culture, which are good things. But there are many negatives too, particularly the dislocation of families as high rents squeeze people out, the loss of traditional employment that many relied on, and the pressure on services - doctors, schools, transport - of a rapidly growing population.

And so what we need is a thoughtful leadership - affordable homes alongside the private ones, better managed landlords, improved schools, better ladders into work for those not working, a tough approach to crime and anti-social behaviour and a strong commitment to holding us together as a community full of differences but with a shared sense of direction. I am up for it.