ELECTIONS: Battle of the ballot box in May 3 Tower Hamlets polls hits Canary Wharf with its own local hustings
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The battle to capture Canary Wharf is hotting up in the most contested voting ward in the Tower Hamlets elections with candidates fighting for just two seats on the council.
The two previous councillors, one Tory the other Inspire, face challenges from 10 rivals at the May 3 polls and questions from the public on April 18—six candidates for each seat, the highest ratio in the borough.
Unique ward election hustings are being hosted by ‘1 Love Community’ social enterprise organisation after being approached by schoolteacher Natasha Bolter who is taking on the mainstream party machines as an ‘independent’.
The young mum-of-two first challenged Tory councillor Andrew Wood to an open debate, then put out invitations on social media to the others to join them at the Galloway House venue in Canary Wharf’s Millharbour.
“We all have a chance to go face-to-face with the voters,” Natasha told the East London Advertiser. “All the main parties say they’re against over-development on the Isle of Dogs, so the hustings would be open for voters to make an informed choice, where we all have an equal chance to put our policies on the platform.”
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She is cocking a snook at the main parties, despite their competing invitations to recruit her to their ranks.
Tory Andrew Wood was quick to respond to her challenge and even found a ‘neutral’ to chair the evening.
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Andrew said: “We need to tackle the infrastructure before allowing more tower blocks, with the Isle of Dogs population set to rise by 20,000 in the next decade.”
He points to the 75-storey Landmark tower going up in Westferry with almost 1,000 new homes “which could face low water pressure when people have their showers”.
His rival sitting councillor Maium Miah, ex-Tory defector running for Aspire, switched in 2012 to ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman’s now-banned Tower Hamlets First party before the tainted 2014 council elections.
Maium also campaigns on over-development, as well as anti-social behaviour, police resources and lack of youth centres. He maintains the 2015 judgement banning Rahman was “injustice” and supports his record in office.
Natasha’s campaign is more personal, taking up domestic issues on the doorstep, having already sorted out a parking permit for a disabled driver and flooding in a block of flats.
But she has also run up against dirty politics with her supporters being targeted by a rival to remove her poster from their windows and a forged leaflet circulated in her name which has been reported to police.
The two seats are being fought over by two Labour candidates, two Conservatives, two Aspire, one People’s Alliance, two Liberal Democrats, two Greens and one independent.