The “Friends of Twickenham Green” (FTG), a society of local residents in South-West London, held a hustings event on 12th April. Candidates standing for the Greater London Assembly Election 2016, and wishing to represent the boroughs of Hounslow, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames, were invited to attend. The candidates up for election were:
- Tony Arbour (Conservative)
- Martin Whelton (Labour)
- Rosina Robson (Liberal Democrat)
- Alexander Craig (UKIP)
- Andree Frieze (Green Party)
- Adam Buick (Socialist Party)
Held at the United Reform Church on Twickenham Green, the hustings was chaired by Dan Hough (Professor of Political Studies, University of Sussex and FTG Committee Member). Candidates all had the opportunity to answer local residents’ questions and set out their parties’ proposals for the City of London, if elected. For two hours each candidate aimed to inform and persuade an audience of 40 to win their support.
Questions related to topics that most impact Londoners: availability and affordability of housing; public transport and fares; public health issues, especially relating to pollution levels and concerns relating to the 3rd Heathrow runway debate. National issues raised included the EU Referendum and the government's policy on school academies, these both having significant implications for Londoners. Consensus by all candidates on some issues discussed was evident, particularly those relating to housing and public transport. Unexpected agreement came from UKIP and the Green Party agreeing that they would support free time limited bus tickets.
On May 5th, Londoners eligible to vote will elect not only the new Mayor for London, but also the 25 London Assembly Members. Assembly Members scrutinise and investigate what the Mayor promises, plans and looks to deliver to Londoners. With the Mayor of London being the most powerful directly-elected politician in the UK, it is important that that the London Assembly exists to ensure their accountability. Candidates explained that the voting system used for the London Assembly elections is the Additional Member System which is a hybrid of First-Past-the-Post and proportional representational.
Asked for his thoughts, Dan Hough, said: “Hustings play an important role in getting information out there and in helping some people make up their minds. I certainly heard things that I agree with and I also heard plenty that I quite fundamentally disagree with, but I think that everyone in the room could probably say the same.”
Hugh Dollery - Hampton School