In the run up to the May elections, we interviewed Peter Golds, Conservative Councillor for Island Gardens and Leader of the Conservative Group in Tower Hamlets.
The local elections are fast approaching. On Thursday 5 May, you can head to your local voting station and have your say on who will be councillor for your ward.
The last time such elections took place was in 2018.
In the run up to this year’s elections, we speak to one candidate from each of the main political parties to ask them what their party would do if elected or re-elected to the council. We also include a list of the candidates who are running for election in the borough’s 20 wards.
Q&A with Peter Golds
Below, we speak to Peter Golds, Conservative Party Councillor for Island Gardens and Leader of the Conservative Group in Tower Hamlets.
In the Tower Hamlets Annual Residents’ Survey, residents have repeatedly cited that crime, affordable housing, and litter in the streets are causes for concern. If your party were elected/re-elected, what would it prioritise?
The one thing we can immediately deal with, almost on day one, is the litter and garbage collection.
We then look at the affordable housing. That has to be a much more ongoing process because, of course, we are bound by planning consents and there are a number of planning applications that are in the pipeline. We need to get as many people into housing as possible, but it has to be affordable for residents. There is no point in building these developments that are wonderful for oligarchs but that serves nothing to help housing in Tower Hamlets.
And then crime, we need to work with the Metropolitan Police and the government on that.
What initiatives or schemes will your party seek to put into place to raise the borough’s green credentials?
Firstly, it is dealing with the rubbish. We would also scrap the fleet of diesel council vehicles which the council put in place. We would replace them with much more environmentally-friendly vehicles. I also want to see far more trees planted which help to preserve and enhance the area.
After residents backed plans to reduce traffic flow in the area in 2020, the council stated that traffic calming measures were to be introduced in Bow in 2021, as part of Tower Hamlets’ Liveable Streets programme. Residents are telling us they are still to see progress. This raised a lot of passion in our readers. Where does your party stand on this and how you will address concerns?
To answer that question, one has to look at what happened with liveable streets here and in other boroughs across London. Liveable streets need to be liveable. I obviously understand that Roman Road and Bow have one set of issues, but I thought it was deplorable where the council had this brilliant idea to divert traffic from Brick Lane into one of the most deprived estates in London: the Chicksand Estate. It was very nice to have Brick Lane traffic free for periods and people can sit outside of the restaurant, but what about the poor souls living in the Chicksand Estate who suddenly found themselves cut off from their children’s playground? My view is that this has to be looked at borough and regional wide.
We also have to wean people off cars, and for there to be better public transport facilities. It means encouraging people who have got cars to switch to alternative car methods, for example electric vehicles.
Between 2017 and 2021, the percentage of those who believed the council provides good value for the council tax they pay dropped by almost 20% – how will your party regain residents’ confidence that they are getting good value for their council tax?
The thing you immediately look at is what is the service that most readily impacts on residents, and it’s the rubbish collection and the maintenance of the streets.
While initiating change on affordable housing can take years, and dealing with crime you’re working with the Met, dealing with street collection and maintenance of the streets that can be done here. If you improve those services, then you can begin to look at everything else.
What is the single biggest problem facing Tower Hamlets and what is your party going to do to tackle it?
I think there is a gap here on the credibility of the council. The most visible thing is that people see our rubbish strewn in our streets; we need to clean up the streets and then that’ll make the council appear more credible to people’s eyes. If we were part of the administration, I guarantee you that at nine o’clock in the morning, we would walk in and ask to see the officers and our first thing would be our plan to spruce up the borough.
How do you differ from the other parties?
We don’t expect anybody to agree with everything we stand for. What I don’t want to do, which is what other parties do, is promise something will change when they know the action will take years. I would rather say honestly to people, ‘We want to deliver more affordable housing, but it is going to take some time, but we will start dealing with cleaning up the borough and we will start dealing with that from day one.’
Conservative candidates in Tower Hamlets
|– Bethnal Green East –|
|– Bethnal Green West –|
|– Blackwall and Cubitt Town –|
|– Bow East –|
|– Bow West –|
|– Bromley North –|
|– Bromley South –|
|– Canary Wharf –|
|– Island Gardens –|
|Cllr Peter Golds|
|– Lansbury –|
|– Limehouse –|
|– Mile End –|
|– Poplar –|
|– Shadwell –|
|– Spitalfields and Banglatown –|
|– St Dunstan’s –|
|– St Katharine’s and Wapping –|
|– Stepney Green –|
|– Weavers –|
|Moulay Yassin Essayoi|
|– Whitechapel –|
|Mustafa Riaz Khan|
The important bit… FAQs for local elections
When is polling day?
On Thursday 5 May 2022. Voting takes place between 7am and 10pm.
Where can I vote?
There are 75 polling stations across the borough (roughly one station for every 0.1sq miles so you won’t have far to travel!). Find your nearest one here.
How can I vote in the elections?
You have to be registered to vote. You can apply to register to vote by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. The deadline to apply to register for the election is Thursday 14 April 2022. Registered voters will then be able to vote in person at their designated local polling station. There are also options to apply to vote by post or by proxy. If by post, you can request a postal application form at any time of the year. The deadline for the receipt of a postal vote application form is Saturday 23 April. If you want to vote by proxy (nominate someone to vote on your behalf), either download and fill out this form or contact Tower Hamlets Council visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/vote.
How are the councillors elected?
Councillors are elected using a first-past-the-post system where you will be asked to put an ‘X’ in a box on the ballot paper next to the candidate of your choice (or candidates if you have more than one councillor representing your ward). The candidate(s) who receive the most votes are duly elected.
And, of course, the most important question is… am I allowed to bring my dog to a polling station?
Yes! Dogs are welcome to accompany their owners to vote but owners must keep their dogs under control at all times. With over 45,000 hashtags, #DogsAtPollingStations has become a popular and fun way to include your dog on election day on social media.
Hear from other party candidates in Tower Hamlets:
Read our interview with Green Party Councillor Nathalie Bienfait.
Read our interview with Labour Party Councillor Rachel Blake.
Read our interview with Aspire Party councillor Kabir Ahmed.
Read our interview with Liberal Democrat Councillor Rabina Kahn.
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