Environmental issues high on the agenda in Merton’s GLA candidate hustings

Residents of Merton and Wandsworth had the chance to hear from candidates vying for Greater London Assembly (GLA) seats at the upcoming elections – with a special focus on environmental concerns.

A debate lasting well over 90 minutes was attended by about 80 people and took place at the Merton Arts Space in Wimbledon Library.

The event involved four candidates from the four parties, representing Merton and Wandsworth constituencies: Leonie Cooper from Labour, Pippa Maslin representing the Green Party, Eleanor Cox of the Conservative Party and Sue Wixley from the Liberal Democrats.

Diana Sterck, chief executive of Sustainable Merton, moderated the hustings, allowing residents to question candidates on urgent environmental policies.

It was organised as a collaboration between Sustainable Merton, Merton Friends of the Earth and Merton Cyclists Group, the debate aimed to address the pressing environmental issues facing London ahead of the upcoming elections.

Local issues ranging from blocking the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s development plans to build on Wimbledon Park to the need for more bike lanes and retrofitting buildings rather than  demolition were raised and discussed.

Ms Sterck said: “As Merton’s local environmental charity, Sustainable Merton was delighted to provide an opportunity for residents to voice their concerns about the climate to those who can influence policy change and hold the Mayor of London accountable.

“We need urgent action at all levels and this event offered a platform for communities and candidates to come together for a more sustainable future.”

Gabriel Partos, co-ordinator of Merton Friends of the Earth, said: “This pre-election debate was a great opportunity to ask candidates about what they would do to make London a cleaner, greener city.

“The Assembly members have an important role: they scrutinise the work of the Mayor of London, and are local residents’ first point of contact to deal with suggestions and complaints.

Mariana Pacheco, co-coordinator of Merton Friends of the Earth, said: “Despite residing in one of London’s greenest boroughs, our environment faces significant challenges, including water and air pollution, threats to our parks from development and pesticide usage among others.”

With the mayoral election scheduled for May 2, and candidates such as Sadiq Khan, Susan Hall, and Zoë Garbett vying for the mayoral seat, the debate served as a precursor to the broader electoral landscape.

Pictured top: (From left to right) Gabriel Partos, Mariana Pacheco, Diana Sterck, Eleanor Cox, Conservative Party, Leonie Cooper, Labour Party, Sue Wixley, Liberal Democrat Party  and Pippa Maslin, Green Party. (Picture: Auriel Glanville)

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