Ann Williams (Wanstead Village, Green)

Ann WilliamsAnn Williams

Ann Williams is a Green Party candidate for the new Wanstead Village ward in the upcoming Redbridge Council elections. Here's why she thinks she deserves your vote on 3 May.

When I moved to Wanstead 30 years ago (having been a Londoner all my life), I already knew the area, and was immediately attracted by the open spaces, the uncrowded neighbourhoods and the flourishing High Street with its village-like atmosphere.

Since I arrived, things have changed somewhat, but the green lungs of Wanstead and Leyton Flats remain, along with Christchurch and George Greens, and the spinney on the corner of New Wanstead and the High Street, now known as Tarzy Wood. I wanted to preserve these spaces, both for those who will come after us and for the well-being of the current residents. As a member of the local branch of Friends of the Earth, I participated in the Seeds for Snaresbrook project, which encouraged the sowing of wild flowers around street trees. This project continues in some streets, though in others (including Wanstead High Street), piles of rubbish are more in evidence.

Environmental factors affect many issues. Air quality, a subject which concerns many people in Redbridge, is an obvious example, and connected with traffic congestion, one of the prime sources of air pollution. Restrictions on parking are not popular, but if we want to breathe clean air, then we need to switch from using cars to walking, cycling and public transport, and the council should adopt and implement policies which favour pedestrians, cyclists and buses. Air pollution has a particularly bad effect on young children and the elderly, increasing the pressure on our already struggling health service.

Another major issue in our locality is housing. The upward pressure on house prices makes it hard for quite affluent people to buy or rent homes in Wanstead. Developers keen to maximise profits price out both people of modest means and those on the council's housing list, for whom even 'affordable' property is too expensive. The provision of genuine social housing should be foremost in council policy. It is essential the council pressurises builders to include meaningful percentages of social and affordable housing in their developments, and also implements its powers of bringing accommodation left empty by its owners into occupation. As with air quality, this is not a standalone issue; people in housing deprivation and sub-standard accommodation are prone to both physical and mental ill health, which in turn adds to the pressure on our NHS.

It is essential to see that the links between different issues – air quality, traffic, housing, and health – are intertwined. This is called 'holistic' – or more simply, 'joined-up' – thinking, which is what the Green Party aims to supply. Other parties may have adopted a few green policies but only the Green Party puts the environment at the heart of its manifesto.

Redbridge Council elections will take place on 3 May. Visit wavidi.co/vote2018