Chase ward expected to be a very tight race, reports James Cracknell
The candidates for three Enfield Council by-elections have been announced ahead of next month’s polls.
Eligible voters in Chase, Jubilee and Southbury wards will each get a chance to select one new councillor on Thursday 6th May. It comes after two Labour councillors resigned, while another died last summer.
Chase ward is by far the most marginal of the three seats up for grabs, with the top Conservative candidate just 60 votes away from being elected at the last poll in 2018. The vacancy in Chase arose after one of the ward’s three Labour councillors, Vicki Pite, resigned last December after falling out with the town hall’s leadership team.
The candidates for Chase ward are the Green Party’s Catherine Davies; Mira Glavardanov, for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC); Chris James, representing Labour; Liberal Democrat Guy Russo; and Andrew Thorp, for the Conservatives.
A recent controversy in Chase ward could have a big influence on the vote, with many residents upset at the way the future of Whitewebbs Park has been handled. Nearly 3,500 people signed a petition calling for the park to be protected and maintained after the council invited outside organisations to bid to run a large part of the park in 2019, including its golf course. The council has yet to announce its preferred bidder, despite originally saying it would do so last year.
The controversy was stoked further when the council confirmed the golf course would not be reopening following the end of lockdown.
A campaign video for Labour candidate Chris James stated that “Labour is investing in your greener future” and that she was standing to “secure Whitewebbs’ future for sport and leisure” as well as make “green improvements at Four Hills Estate” and create a new footpath linking Hilly Fields and Trent Park.
Both the Conservative and Lib Dem candidates have pledged to fight to protect Whitewebbs Park and reopen its golf course. Tory Andrew Thorp said he would “work to protect our green space” and “oppose any changes to Whitewebbs Park”, while Lib Dem Guy Russo states in his campaign video that he wants there to be “no loss of free and meaningful public access” as well as “no damage to the ancient woodland or biodiversity”.
Enfield Green Party wants to see a business case from the council on its decision but stated that if proven not to be financially viable, the golf course should be “rewilded”. The TUSC candidate, a housing activist with campaign group Meridian For Council Homes, did not mention Whitewebbs in an online statement but said she was standing in Chase to “prioritise housing need, not super-rich developers”.
The second by-election is taking place in Jubilee ward, where Labour councillor Bernadette Lappage resigned in March. The candidates to replace her are Chinelo Anyanwu, from Labour; the Green Party’s Bill Linton; Clive Morrison from The Taking The Initiative Party of Britain; Benny Neza of the Conservatives; Lewis Peacock from TUSC; and Liberal Democrat Iman Saadoune.
The third by-election, in Southbury ward, will elect a new councillor to replace Labour’s Chris Bond, who died last year. The candidates standing are Luke Balnave, for the Greens; Lib Dem Luke Cummings; TUSC candidate John Dolan; Tory Patrick Drysdale; Labour’s Ayten Guzel; Jheni Morrison for The Taking The Initiative Party of Britain; and Hughie Rose for the We Matter Party.
The by-elections in Jubilee and Southbury are more low-key than in Chase, with the Dispatch unable to find campaign videos or online statements for the Labour or Conservative candidates in either ward. The Lib Dems published statements on behalf of their candidates Iman Saadoune (Jubilee) and Luke Cummings (Southbury); TUSC put out a campaign video for its Jubilee candidate Lewis Peacock; while the Green Party has published statements for both Bill Linton (Jubilee) and Luke Balnave (Southbury).
According to its website, The Taking The Initiative Party was “established by a group of British business people, some from working class backgrounds, who felt that we had become politically homeless”. The We Matter Party is described on its website as “the UK’s first black-led political party” which stands for “political, social and economic change”.
Across all wards in 2018, Labour won 45 seats, but a combination of resignations and defections means their ranks have now reduced to 38. The Conservatives currently have 16 councillors, while there are five ex-Labour councillors now representing breakaway group Community First.
A vote of “no confidence” in the current Labour administration is set to be debated in June and would need backing from 32 councillors to succeed.
For more information on the upcoming by-elections, including how to register to vote before the deadline on Monday 19th April: