City Hall election: “We have to build houses but it’s about making sure that they’re appropriate”

Green candidate Kate Tokley talks to Barnet Post about the housing crisis and listening to communities

Headshot of Green Party candidate for the Barnet and Camden London Assembly seat, Kate Tokley
Barnet and Camden Green candidate Kate Tokley

“Once you start to get exasperated by politics there’s two options, aren’t there? You either tune-off completely or you think ‘let’s see if I can play my small part’.“

This is Green candidate for Barnet and Camden Kate Tokley’s explanation of how she ended up becoming her party’s local candidate for the London Assembly.

The charity worker adds: “Nobody joins the Greens if they’re a career politician, there are easier ways to be elected” – and she definitely faces an uphill struggle to beat Labour’s Anne Clarke. 

In terms of her motivation to stand for the assembly specifically, she tells Barnet Post that: “Inner London gets talked about a lot more when people talk about London and the outer boroughs can sometimes get left behind.”

The key issue that Tokley mentions is housing. She says: “Everyone in London understands that we’re in a crisis with housing stock, rents are spiralling with a lot of people in damp mouldy accommodation still paying a lot.”

Adding: “Making sure that all Londoners have somewhere to live that’s warm and cosy: it’s a fundamental right.”

However, there is the recurring tension between the need for housing and residents’ opposition to proposed developments. Tokley is concerned that local people are not being listened to. She says: “There’s a lot of development going on – in Colindale, the proposed development in Edgware – and I think a lot of people feel like they haven’t been consulted. 

“Communities feel like it’s at their expense when there’s a large development happening that’s inappropriate for the area.

She adds: “Obviously we have to build houses but it’s about making sure that they’re appropriate and that residents feel listened to. Rather than knocking places down and rebuilding them, it’s about retrofitting and improving housing stock.”

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Other key issues are transport and the environment. Tokley highlights the challenges Barnet faces as an outer London borough: “A lot of transport policy seems to be about getting into zones 2 and 1 rather than travelling across. 

“What I’m keen to see in Barnet is much more cycling infrastructure and buses. There’s a lot of people who don’t want to rely on their cars but have to.” 

And while she supports the ULEZ expansion, she is critical of the way it was implemented: “I support ULEZ and I support lowering air pollution but I don’t think Barnet was necessarily prepared for that. They should have put more bus routes in first; more cycling infrastructure, rather than punishing motorists. It’s about encouraging people not to drive.”

Tokley’s views on policing and crime reflect her wider concerns about lack of consultation. She says:People are concerned about crime and people aren’t necessarily concerned about the things that the police devote a lot of their time to doing. 

“I think local people should be able to say what crimes they’re worried about and what they want support with [from the police].”

More broadly, she is focused on making sure that Londoners feel heard and listened to.”

She says: “The current Green assembly members have been really good at this but everyone in the Green Party is committed to making decisions at the lowest level possible.

“Meeting groups and listening to what those people have to say and feeding that up rather than a top-down approach.”

Kate Tokley is one of six candidates for the Barnet and Camden constituency along with current assembly member Anne Clarke for Labour, Reform UK’s Raj Forhad, Conservative Julie Redmond, Lib Dem Scott Emery and Socialist (GB) Bill Martin. 

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