Meet The Candidates

Who will be the next MP for Shepherd's Bush?

With a general election just a few months away, we asked the parliamentary candidates for the seat of Hammersmith (and Shepherd's Bush) from the three main parties to tell us what they thought the most important issues were for Shepherd's Bush and how they would propose to resolve them if they were elected to be our next MP. Here is what they said:

Shaun Bailey, Conservative Party

Shaun Bailey

Andrew Slaughter MP, Labour Party

Andrew Slaughter

Portrait of Merlene Emerson.Merlene Emerson, Liberal Democrats

Merlene Emerson

Shepherd's Bush has always been a part of me. Years ago I could usually be found hanging out at the Scrubs or riding the bus around Shepherd's Bush Green on my way to school. Today I live nearby and my mum still lives in Shepherd's Bush.

I want my kids to experience the best of what this borough has to offer without worrying about their safety. Our Conservative council invested £4 million pounds on Britain’s first 24/7 neighbourhood beat policing pilots right here in Shepherd's Bush. Crime rates were massively reduced. These initiatives need to be fully supported by parliament and I want to help make that happen.

I also want to help raise the quality of the housing we provide. If we can’t
provide our children with healthy and safe housing, we risk dooming them for life. We need more Shepherd's Bush residents not just living in high quality homes, but owning them too.

Whether they come from wealthy backgrounds or not, our children need to have access to the best education system available. Teachers need to be freed
from the mountains of paperwork that have pulled them away from spending time with students. Headmasters and headmistresses need to be given more control over discipline, exclusions and inclusions.

Our local economy in Shepherd's Bush needs to be able to create new jobs and train those who are seeking new skills. We need to break the cycle of dependency that keeps people poor and help those people find meaningful work that pays a fair wage.

One of the strengths of Shepherd's Bush is our amount of green space. It encourages people to come outside their homes and engage with their
community. Our green spaces need to be protected and new ones developed where possible.

I could go on but I hope this helps give an idea of what my priorities are for Shepherd's Bush. If you have any questions or suggestions please get in touch. I can't promise to always tell you what you want to hear but I will tell it to you straight.

Shepherd's Bush could experience the biggest transformation in its history over the next five to ten years.

First, the good news. There is unprecedented investment going into public services. Our three secondary schools, Phoenix, Burlington Danes and the new Hammersmith Academy, are benefiting from over £90 million of government investment in new buildings. A similar sum is going into facilities at Hammersmith Hospital and there are two new GP centres at the hospital and in White City. There are five new Children's Centres and £290 million investment in decent homes. This is the result of 12 years of Labour investment to reverse 18 years of Conservative neglect. There is no guarantee these projects will continue if the Tories return to government

Secondly, there is more work to do. There is a need for affordable housing in Shepherd's Bush. It is the council's job to help families who cannot afford to rent or buy. But we have a council committed to the exact opposite: not only refusing permission for new low cost homes but planning the demolition of 2,500 good quality houses and flats on the White City, Batman Close and Wood Lane Estates. If a Labour council is returned in May's local elections, the demolitions will be halted and new affordable housing will be a priority.

Developments like Westfield have helped us through the recession. But too few new jobs have gone to Shepherd's Bush residents. Thanks to continuing government investment unemployment, repossessions and insolvencies have been much lower than in previous slumps. We must continue to invest until recovery is assured.

Thirdly, there is a lot to be proud of in Shepherd's Bush. Most residents like living here because it is an integrated community with a lot of independent shops, restaurants, and clubs. The council's development plans seek to replace this with anytown chain stores, faceless private housing estates and commercial white elephants. Residents' groups are forming to resist these changes, reminiscent of the worst 1960s town planning. The battle for the soul of Shepherd's Bush is joined.

 

In the past, I and the H&F Liberal Democrats have campaigned for improvements to Shepherd's Bush market, better transport links (against closure of Shepherd's Bush Central line station and on bus routes), and for more jobs for local residents in the Westfield development.

More recently, we have seen a number of high profile cases involving planning applications such as the redevelopment of the Goldhawk Industrial estate and 282 Goldhawk Road. The former has been called in by the Secretary of State for valid reasons. The next big test will be proposed development at Stowe Depot, as to whether the Council has indeed learnt lessons against allowing over development in the face of local protests.

Related to this is the general shortage not of luxury housing but of affordable homes. When one million square feet of retail space was built at Westfield, the developer was only required to deliver 78 units of affordable housing. Although colleagues in City Hall advise me that there were 8492 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in the borough in 2009, the Council has made clear that they do not intend to increase the number of affordable housing units for the next 15 years.

One positive outcome of the Westfield development however is the improvements to the Shepherd's Bush Green. As a community mediator in the area over the last 9 years, I can see that the area is extremely diverse, yet there had been insufficient consultation of the needs of local communities. I would also like to see an air monitoring station strategically located by the Green to safeguard the health of users.

Last but not least, we are in a recession. Shopholders have complained to me about rising utility bills and business rates. Young people I bump into whilst leafleting ask what is there for them? And whilst Council tax may have been lowered for 3 consecutive years, there is a cost in terms of attendant cuts.

As a Liberal Democrat I pledge to bring in fairer taxes, investment in our young people as well as in our environment, health and well-being.

Information and related stories

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January 25, 2010