By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter
Lewisham’s newly elected councillors have promised to stand up for residents following their wins last week.
Four by-elections were held on May 6, alongside the London mayoral and assembly elections.
The council declared on Saturday that Labour and Cooperative Party candidates had won all four seats in Sydenham, New Cross, Catford South, and Bellingham.
Lewisham has long been a Labour stronghold in London – the wins were in stark contrast with the Party’s overall performance in elections across England.
Labour and Cooperative candidate Jack Lavery won in Sydenham with 2,634 votes, ahead of Conservative Helena Croft with 982 votes, and Green Party candidate Nick Lee’s 820.
In the New Cross ward by-election, Labour’s Samantha Latouche won with 3,038 of the 5,078 votes cast.
The Green Party candidate Andrea Carey-Fuller came in second with 862 votes, while Conservative Chris Wilford finished third with 526 votes.
Labour and Cooperative Party candidate James Royston won in Catford South with 2,473, while Liberal Democrat Diana Cashin came second with 891 votes, and Conservative Favour Obi third with 761.
Labour and Cooperative candidate Rachel Onikosi won in Bellingham with 2,118 of the 3,850 votes cast, Conservative Dickon Prior came second with 738 votes, and Green Party candidate Nick Humberstone was third with 336.
Elsewhere, Labour group leader Len Duvall held his London Assembly constituency seat for Greenwich and Lewisham, while Perry Vale Cllr Sakina Sheikh was elected as a London-wide Assembly Member.
Bellingham’s new Cllr Rachel Onikosi said it was “evident that Labour’s hardwork paid off at the ballot box”.
“Despite a very tough and intense campaign the huge effort was absolutely necessary to secure the astounding votes on the day.
“One of the most enjoyable aspects of the campaign was speaking to residents, hearing their views and their priorities for Bellingham. They have entrusted me with their vote and I will do everything I can to repay that trust,” she said.
She paid tribute to former Cllr Sue Hordijenko, whose tragic death resulted in the by-election.
“I’ll always remember Cllr Sue Hordijenko who sadly passed away in February and her legacy will live on. Together with my fellow Cllrs Hall and Paschoud we’ll ensure our work reflects Sue’s values and determination.
“Bellingham is a wonderful ward to represent with its diverse community, beautiful green spaces and growing community amenities.
“I really do look forward to working hard for Bellingham’s residents making their voices heard at the council and listening to their concerns,” she said.
Catford South’s new Cllr James Royston thanked residents “for putting their trust” in him.
“It’s an absolute privilege to represent my community and I will use that position to continue talking to residents about their priorities and concerns.
“I will work to protect the services we most need – to safeguard the most vulnerable, using what resources the council has to help those who are under-served and under attack by the Tory Government.
“I will prioritise improving our local environment – from reducing air pollution to protecting and improving our green spaces and cycle lanes to fighting fly-tipping.
“I will push for more social and council housing, and will work to ensure that Catford’s exciting regeneration plans benefit everyone in Catford.
“I will work for fair pay for all, with the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion at my core.
“And I will work to ensure that as we recover from this pandemic, the recovery benefits all in Catford and that we redress the overt, hidden and systemic imbalances in society and the workplace.
“I want Lewisham Council to continue being at the forefront of supporting and celebrating the diversity of our amazing borough,” he said.
New Cross winner Cllr Samantha Latouche thanked residents for their trust.
“Speaking to people on the doorstep and listening to the issues that they raised I understood that local issues are just as important, if not more than the national ones.
“My five campaign pledges resonated with the community – affordable housing, clean air and streets, being a borough of sanctuary for refugee resettlement, community recovery from Covid and making our streets safer.
“Every door knocked and conversation had meant something.
“I listened, I heard and I will work hard to achieve positive and meaningful change for everyone in New Cross.
“The council cuts driven by over 10 years of austerity under the Conservatives continue to have a huge impact on services – £38 million of cuts enacted this year alone – it’s like being asked to make a king-size bed with a single sheet.
“I’m proud of the campaign we ran, communicating directly with people. For me being a councillor is about honesty, integrity and community action – true Labour values that are still alive and strong in Lewisham,” she said.
Sydenham’s new Cllr Jack Lavery said he was honoured “the people of Sydenham have put their faith in me”.
“It has been a pleasure speaking to so many local residents in recent months and I am looking forward to getting to work.
“Sydenham has such a wonderful sense of community and I am looking forward to working with you to make Sydenham an even better place to live.
“I will fight to deliver more affordable homes, a good quality education for our children, and ensure Sydenham high street remains a vibrant place at the heart of our community.
“I will be a strong voice for Sydenham, and I will always stand up for our local community.
“Finally, I would like to thank the volunteers who supported me throughout the election campaign. You have been amazing and I cannot thank you enough,” he said.
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