Peckham councillor standing for Parliament 100 miles away

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A Southwark Labour councillor who failed in her attempt to become the area’s next MP 18 months ago is now standing for Parliament more than 100 miles away in South West England. 

Evelyn Akoto, who represents the Old Kent Road, revealed she has been chosen as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South West Wiltshire on Wednesday morning in a post on X. 

Cllr Akoto, Labour-led Southwark council’s cabinet member for health and well-being, lost out in her bid to become the party’s general election candidate for the safe seat of Peckham, which includes the Old Kent Road area, in November 2022. 

Cllr Akoto made it down to the final four but was pipped to the post by Miatta Fahnbulleh, an economist and former civil servant.

Announcing her selection as Labour’s candidate for South West Wiltshire, Cllr Akoto wrote: “After 14 years of stagnation and declining living standards, we need a new vision. 

“I want to work with the communities to make the Labour vision a reality.”

Cllr Victor Chamberlain, leader of Southwark’s Liberal Democrat opposition, accused Cllr Akoto of putting her professional goals before local residents.

He said: “Yet another Labour councillor in Southwark putting their career ambitions ahead of the community. 

“People in Southwark, and in Wiltshire, deserve a candidate who is connected to and cares about the community.

“Labour needs to stop treating Southwark as a training ground for potential MPs. It’s no surprise the issues facing residents don’t get solved when all their councillors seem so keen to leave.”

Cllr Akoto will face an uphill struggle in her effort to get elected 100 miles away in the West Country. 

At the last election in 2019, Conservative candidate Dr Andrew Murrison won with over 60 per cent of the vote, compared to the Labour candidate’s 20.8 per cent. 

In contrast, Harriet Harman, the current Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, won the constituency with over 71 per cent of the vote in 2019. 

Cllr Akoto, who grew up on the Aylesbury estate in Walworth, has been a Labour councillor in Southwark since 2014.

She is one of a number of Southwark councillors who have attempted to jump ship miles away in recent years.

In 2022, Cllr Bethan Roberts, member for Rotherhithe, tried to be selected as Labour parliamentary candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, over 170 miles from the borough.

Cllr Victoria Mills, Labour member for Peckham Rye, ran for selection 210 miles away in Selby last year. 

Former Labour councillor Alice Macdonald stood down as a cabinet member when selected as parliamentary candidate for Norwich North 120 miles away after the 2022 local elections. She then stood down as a councillor in June 2023, triggering the Newington by-election.

Pictured top: Cllr Akoto at topping out ceremony for Camberwell Lodge (Picture: LDRS)

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