Andrew Johns - Walthamstow

I grew up in Walthamstow, where I lived for 27 years before moving to Chingford. I’m a 39-year-old father of two, and a web developer for an IT consultancy. Since joining the Greens in 2014, I’ve been an active and committed party member, becoming joint coordinator in my first year of membership. I’ve been active in local campaigns on housing, education, cuts to local services and air quality over the years.

I am honoured to be the Green Party candidate for Walthamstow. As my home town, I have seen how much it has changed over the years. I’ve seen my old school demolished and replaced by an Academy, as have many other schools in the area. I’ve seen the bus centre built and rebuilt more than once, and the roads around it re-modelled multiple times. I’ve seen communities destroyed in the name of progress, social housing stock reduced, and primary schools turning from one or two form entry into three and four form entry. I’ve seen green spaces and recreational land reduced to make way for even more housing, but without the necessary infrastructure to support it.

But I’ve also seen how much remains the same. Walthamstow is still a lively place to live, full of diversity and always evolving, just as – my older family say – it has been since before I was even born. The market is as busy as it was when I was a kid, it’s still quicker to walk sometimes than get a bus, and we’re still producing brilliantly talented people in all areas of sport, art, science, business, music and more.

I grew up in a council house with parents on benefits, an experience which taught me the value of social housing, and the importance of local services to low-income families. Now privately renting, I’m acutely aware of the rising cost of housing and the effect it has on the people in the area.

In many areas of Walthamstow, we’re seeing renters forced to move due to ever-increasing rents or landlords selling their buy-to-let properties. Social housing tenants being moved on, in some cases forced beyond Waltham Forest and away from friends and family. In some areas, we have incredible resident groups, but in others, we’re losing a sense of community.

I raise this because we can’t solve the environmental crisis and create a sustainable planet without also tackling social and economic problems, and Walthamstow, for all its great points, still has its fair share of those to deal with.

Environmental concerns are at an all-time high, with Extinction Rebellion leading the way in raising awareness, but voting is just as important as protesting.

We’re still seeing an unwillingness from political circles to actually do anything except utter empty platitudes, declaring climate emergencies while simultaneously backing airport expansion, fracking, tree-culling, new incinerators and more.

A Green vote shows we are giving climate chaos the attention it demands and ensures that those in power follow up their declarations of a climate emergency with real actions that put the environment at the heart of ALL policy-making.

The Greens are the only party that publicly states their vision of the future, not just environmentally, but economically and socially. It’s this bold long-term planning that demonstrates our ability to exert true leadership in a political world dominated by short-term thinking. It’s about time other parties caught up.

 

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