City Hall election: “I’ve been absolutely flying the flag for Barnet and Camden at City Hall”

Labour’s Anne Clarke talks to Barnet Post about building council houses and the positive impact of ULEZ

Anne Clarke - member of the London Assembly representing Barnet and Camden.
Anne Clarke AM – (Credit – GLA)

At the last election to the London Assembly in 2021, Anne Clarke won the Barnet and Camden seat for Labour with a majority of 13,002 over her Conservative rival.

Given the national picture and the fact that Labour has held the seat since 2012, it seems unlikely that Clarke will face a major threat this time around. 

However, she’s keen to make clear that the elections are important: “I think London is at a really critical point: we’ve come out of Brexit, we’ve come out of the pandemic.”

In terms of credentials for remaining in the role she says: “I’ve got started, I work really well with both boroughs. I’ve been absolutely flying the flag for Barnet and Camden at City Hall.”

She also flags up some particular local achievements: “We’ve delivered social homes in both Barnet and Camden. So that’s homes for council rent working with the boroughs. We’ve rewilded, we’ve planted more than a thousand trees and I would very much like to continue to do that work.”

One of the biggest recurring themes in the campaign is housing. Barnet Post asks why, if eight years of Sadiq Khan has led us to the current situation, four more years of Labour will make it better. Clarke is quick to defend the mayor’s record saying: “When Sadiq took over there were three social homes in the whole of London in the pipeline, he’s now built 26,000 and is committed to building 40,000 more.”

She adds: “The other thing that Sadiq has done is he has campaigned for the power to put in a rent cap – and the government refused to do it. I think that should be a devolved power to the mayor. Without controls over rent, it’s really difficult.”

Commenting specifically on the controversial Broadwalk Centre development in Edgware, which has been criticised by several of her opponents, Clarke describes the political reaction to the scheme as “fascinating”. She says: “I keep seeing social media posts saying this is Labour’s plan for Edgware. It isn’t. The Conservatives pushed through the SPD, the special planning document [under which the scheme is being taken forward]” 

When it comes to other key issues overseen by the mayor and assembly, Clarke tells Barnet Post: “Policing and crime are obviously a big deal. People worry about antisocial behaviour.”

Adding: “Community policing is really important, it means police get to know the neighbourhoods, they get to know the local priorities.”

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On transport she is, once again, proud of the current administration’s achievements:In outer London we have the superloop and that’s transformative. If I need to go from Finchley to Hendon, that used to take me 35 minutes on public transport, now it takes about 12.”  

She adds that: “The real answer is more outer London orbital transport because the way our transport network is laid out is very much to get from the outside of London into the centre, and across the centre, it’s not really to connect outer London.” 

When it comes to the environment, Clarke is a strong supporter of the much-debated ULEZ expansion, both politically and personally: “People care a lot about the environment – and they should.”

She adds: “Where we are here [in Cricklewood] is the first bit of the ULEZ expansion and I live round the corner. My daughter and my husband are asthmatic and since that has come in, 18 months ago, neither of them are using the respiratory inhaler. So I can see the difference in my own home.”

Ultimately, it’s clear that the national picture is going to have an impact both on the London mayoral race and individual assembly elections.

Reflecting on this wider political context, while she’s clear about her pride in both the city and Labour’s record, Clarke can’t hide her frustration at the approach of the Conservative government towards London in recent years. She says: “The government has treated London appallingly. I can’t point to another western country that talks down their capital. They talk about London being a place of elites or the north London tofu eaters. It’s this constant barrage of negativity about London.”  

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

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