Hackney road closure campaigners to stand in by-election
- Credit: Horrendous Hackney Road Closures
Two prominent members of a grassroots group campaigning against Hackney road restrictions have announced their intention to stand in a council by-election later in the year.
Long-time Hackney residents Clair Battaglino and Niall Crowley plan to run as independent candidates in the King's Park and the Hoxton East and Shoreditch wards respectively in May.
They are both members of the 7,000-plus campaign group Horrendous Hackney Road Closures (HHRC).
Clair believes "many" Hackney's councillors represent the view of a "privileged minority": "When residents raised concerns about the selective road closures, people were ignored.
"Questions put to ward councillors went unanswered, emails remained in inboxes and campaigners were told by councillors themselves that they had no option but to go along with what the Labour-run cabinet and the mayor said."
Clair retired after 30 years of teaching and became an urban food grower and community gardener.
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"My green credentials are unquestionable,” she said.
“The council loves to stereotype residents opposed to low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and road closures as a selfish, car-obsessed minority.
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"That’s not true of the group and it’s certainly not true of me. I don’t even own a car.”
She thinks the implementation of road restrictions by Hackney Council, which aim to rebuild a greener Hackney, has resulted in "environmental injustice" with traffic being displaced from "relatively quiet roads" to busier ones, where a high proportion of social housing, nurseries and schools are located.
Niall, who will stand for Hoxton East and Shoreditch, moved to the borough 20 years ago and opened a community hub pub off Chatsworth Road, The Eclipse. It is now under new management and called The Elderfield.
He said: "My life changed when my mother developed dementia and I became her part-time carer.
"Like many people in that situation, having a car was an absolute necessity.
"While my main mode of transport these days is a bike, I know from experience that a huge number of carers, business owners, parents, shift workers and people with long-term health problems need their cars on a daily basis. To claim that everyone can simply get on their bike is ridiculous.”
Both candidates are running independently because they agree no party "fits the bill" and consider toeing the party line as a big issue.
Hackney Labour declined to comment and Hackney Council says it would not comment on individuals standing for election.