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ELECTION: Barking’s Longbridge Ward by-election candidates interviewed

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 May 2013 | UPDATED: 09:27 08 May 2013

Former mayor and Longbridge ward representative, Cllr Nirmal Gill Singh, who passed away in February.

Former mayor and Longbridge ward representative, Cllr Nirmal Gill Singh, who passed away in February.

Archant

Voters will head to the polls this coming Thursday, May 9, to choose a new councillor for Longbridge Ward in Barking.

The vacancy arose following the unexpected death of Cllr Nirmal Gill on February 25.

Five candidates are standing and the Post questioned each of them to find out more about their policies:

• Labour candidate Syed Ahammad, 34, lives in Barking.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I came to the borough in 2003 and I’m studying LLB Law with International Relations in London Metropolitan University. Prior to studying I worked as a retail manager for a large chain.

Why should residents in Longbridge ward vote for you?

I came into politics because I believe that you can make a difference and I have always been interested in the local community. I want to work alongside Rocky Gill and Lynda Rice to help make Longbridge an even better place. There is a strong sense of community spirit here. A good councillor speaks up for their residents and represents their views. This is what I want to do.

If elected, what is the one issue you intend to focus on?

This is a really hard question to answer because of the deep cuts imposed by this Tory-led government, which is hurting our most vulnerable residents. From talking to so many parents in the community, child school places and community facilities in Longbridge ward are a major concern.

• Conservative candidate Paul Ayer lives in Barking.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am standing because I care about the borough where I live and my family was raised.

Why should residents in Longbridge ward vote for you?

I am the only candidate who lives in the ward, the only candidate who knows the ward and the only candidate who genuinely cares about Longbridge ward. Longbridge needs and deserves a truly local councillor.

If elected, what is the one issue you intend to focus on?

I will campaign against the neglect of my ward, the neglect of the victims of crime, the appalling neglect of the elderly. Above all I will campaign for the dignity of residents and against Labour’s arrogance and failure.

• UKIP candidate Bert Bedwell, 68, lives in Dagenham.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am 68 and a retired lorry driver. I have lived in Barking and Dagenham all my life. I am a long-standing resident. I am fed up with the old parties and feel they no longer represent the ordinary people.

Why should residents in Longbridge ward vote for you?

I will work to get better value for council tax payers in Barking and Dagenham. I will represent voters interests; UKIP don’t operate a whip system (enforcing party policy) at local council level and we are able to act within the best wishes of the residents.

If elected, what is the one issue you intend to focus on?

Ensuring that local residents have their say in the local council, where they are often ignored by the old parties. Housing is also a very important issue in the area, especially the lack of affordable homes which is one of the issues that I will be trying to tackle.

• Liberal Democrats candidate Dave Croft, 33, lives in Chadwell Heath.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Exeter, Devon, the son of a dental surgeon and senior nurse. Caring is in my blood. I have a natural tendency to cut through red tape and explore until I get to the heart of an issue. I have lived in the borough for two years.

Why should residents in Longbridge ward vote for you?

This council needs to have an opposition elected because it is unhealthy for one party to have 100 per cent control. I will work for the whole diversity of Longbridge residents regardless of ethnic origin, religion, language, economic ability, academic background and other barriers that are placed upon people.

If elected, what is the one issue you intend to focus on?

Opening up the doors of the town hall and informing people about the goings on in there. Then, to take the proper steps to tackle any misguided decisions that can harm local residents’ daily lives.

• BNP candidate Giuseppe De Santis, 39, lives in Chadwell Heath.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been living in Barking and Dagenham since September 2009 but I’m a volunteer in a charity shop in Hornchurch. I decided to stand because I wanted to offer an alternative to the voters in Longbridge.

Why should residents in Longbridge ward vote for you?

I want to give local people in Barking priority in housing and school places for their children and I will work hard to tackle the huge amount of money that the council is wasting every year.

If elected, what is the one issue you intend to focus on?

Housing and in particular the way council accommodation is allocated. I will change the system so that priority will be given to people that have been living in the borough for at least 10 years.


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