While many Southwark Green Party members are already working hard as community activists, getting councillors elected will give us a stronger voice and greater influence to improve the lives of all the borough's residents. We are delighted to announce the selection of our first five area spokespeople following our meeting at the Albrighton Centre, Dog Kennel Hill on 1 February. In alphabetical order, they are:
- David Evans (Peckham)
- David Jennings (East Dulwich)
- Eleanor Margolies (Camberwell)
- Connolly Mellon (Peckham Rye and Nunhead)
- John Tyson (Elephant and Castle)
At the meeting, each candidate gave a brief address to the audience; they then took questions individually and as a group. David E chose to draw on his experience as a parent, secondary school teacher and cycling instructor; David J contrasted the Greens' civilised approach to politics with the "Wild West" post-referendum political landscape; Eleanor stressed the need to connect with as wide a range of voters and community groups as possible; Connolly looked at the advantages of clean, efficient "smart mobility"; and John talked about Southwark Council's redevelopment of Elephant and Castle, and its impact on the local community.
In the lively question and answer session that followed, the candidates and audience discussed ways for the Greens to reach a wider public. Promoting the idea of a universal basic income – a key Green policy – is certainly one way we can do this. In the words of David E, it shows that Greens don't think "people should go and live in a cave"! Expanding this theme, John called for the creation of genuine community spaces – the opposite of social cleansing, which is destroying the diversity of inner London communities. Eleanor identified air pollution and climate change as issues of social justice – because they have the greatest impact on the poorest communities – while David J noted that investment in clean and sustainable infrastructure, such as broadband, is one answer to the failed and divisive policies of economic austerity.
Perhaps the evening's most radical idea was Connolly's call for the internal combustion engine to be made illegal! Could it happen in Southwark – who knows? But we can say for certain that Green councillors will bring much-needed fresh thinking to our borough as they work towards creating healthier, sustainable communities.