Labour, Conservative and Green candidates clash over key issues at Post’s Barking and Dagenham hustings event

Barking and Dagenham local election hustings. Picture: Archant

Barking and Dagenham local election hustings. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Candidates from three of the parties standing in the upcoming elections locked horns at the Post’s hustings event last night over key issues facing the borough including housing, regeneration and crime.

Taking part were Conservative London Assembly member and candidate for Longbridge ward Andrew Boff, Gascoigne candidate and deputy council leader Dominic Twomey and the Green Party candidate for Heath ward Mathew Crowley.

Housing was a key talking point and whilst all candidates agreed action was needed to tackle the housing crisis, the candidates clashed over the means to achieve this.

Mr Twomey said right to buy rules need to be “revoked or at least toned down” to allow the council to keep hold of its housing stock, whilst Mr Boff argued that doing so would mean you “didn’t want people to get on in life” because the policy had transfered a great deal of capital to poor people.

Mr Crowley was critical of the council’s approach to housing in the borough.

He said: “When you market housing developments as Barcelona-on-Thames and Mini-Manhattan in Barking and you go to Cannes in the south of France to launch your housing campaign that doesn’t give the right tone that you are going to build the houses for local people in the area.”

Mr Boff criticised the council’s decision to introduce an order meaning beggars outside Barking Station can be given £100 on-the-spot fine.

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“Four very privileged councillors standing in front of Barking Station saying that the best way to deal with people who have fallen on hard times is to fine them - that is not a council that listens to people,” he said.

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However the orders, which also ban public drinking and urination, are helping to “keep the borough clean and safe” and were introduced after considerable engagement with residents, said Mr Twomey.

Mr Twomey finished by saying Labour offered policies that ensure “nobody is left behind” and the borough’s most vulnerable would be looked after, saying “we’re working class people and we deserve the best”.

Mr Boff said that “checks and balances” from an “active opposition” are essential in any political system, and his party are ready to offer it.

Mr Crowley said that his party are the only one who would “put people first” without resorting to combative party politics exemplified by the other two candidates.