Election campaigning for the forthcoming local council elections on Thursday 5 May continued in earnest this past week as the pre-election period officially got underway.
Electoral wards are different this year after the boundary commission altered their number and shape.
Marylebone High Street ward no longer extends into Fitzrovia and has been re-named Marylebone ward.
The new boundary, which includes the whole of Fitzrovia West, could advantage the Labour Party who nearly ousted the Conservatives at the last local election in 2018 when Pancho Lewis became the first ever Labour councillor to be elected for the West End.
Councillor Lewis is not standing again this year but his former running mate Patrick Lilley — who only missed being elected by a handful of votes last time — is running again with two new candidates, Paul Fisher and Jessica Toale.
Conservative incumbent Councillor Tim Barnes is joined by two new candidates for the West End ward — Councillor Eoghain Murphy, who currently holds a seat in Bryanston and Dorset Square ward, and Julie Redmond. Barnes’s colleague Councillor Jonathan Glanz is not standing again.
Oxford Street, environmental issues, housing, and noise nuisance are a big concern for local residents.
There will be an opportunity to hear the candidates speak and answer questions from local residents at a hustings organised by The Soho Society, the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association and the Marylebone Association on Thursday 28 April in St Anne’s Church Hall, Dean Street.
Across the borough boundary, Bloomsbury ward in Camden is a Labour stronghold. At the last election Labour candidates polled around three times as many votes as the Conservatives who came in second place.
Three seats are again up for grabs in the ward and while there appears to be little in the way of party political opposition to the sitting councillors (we haven’t seen any leaflets) a number of community organisations are not willing to give them an easy ride.
The Save Museum Street campaign group — made up of a number of community groups — are organising hustings for all the prospective candidates standing for the Bloomsbury ward, together with Holborn and Covent Garden ward, at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury Way on Monday 25 April.
The meeting will give residents the opportunity to ask questions and gauge candidates views about local issues, and particularly about the latest Selkirk House proposals — a development by LabTech which would see the highly environmentally-destructive demolition of one tower block and the building of a taller replacement tower.
The current Bloomsbury councillors — Adam Harrison, Rishi Madlani and Sabrina Francis — are all Labour party candidates in this May’s elections and “have been conspicuous by their lack of interest in the development of Selkirk House”. This is despite the major development being just over the boundary in Holborn and would have an impact on the conservation areas in Bloomsbury, says Save Museum Street.
The Soho Society, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, and Marylebone Association: Hustings for the West End ward, 6pm to 10pm, Thursday 28 April 2022. Places must be booked in advance. Tickets here.
Save Museum Street: Hustings for Bloomsbury, Holborn and Covent Garden wards. St George’s Church, Bloomsbury Way, 7pm, Monday 25 April 2022. No need to book.