Andrew Achilleos: Why I’m standing to be a Labour London Assembly candidate

I’m standing to be Labour’s GLA candidate for Havering and Redbridge because I know just how much local people need a strong Labour voice to represent their interests in City Hall. The Tories have held Havering and Redbridge for 20 years, leaving residents across two boroughs without a seat at the table on the issues that matter. If members put their faith in me when ballots drop next week, we can change that.

Having worked for Jon Cruddas over the last eight years, I’ve made a name for myself by consistently winning elections against the odds. I am the candidate best placed to beat Keith Prince because I did it two months ago when he organised the Tory campaign against us.

If selected, I hope to stand on a bold agenda:

  • I will work across sectors to improve air quality and lead a green transformation that makes our parks and open spaces the best in London;
  • I will campaign for more investment in the metropolitan police and work alongside Labour colleagues to champion a multi-agency approach to violent crime; and
  • I will put council housing at the forefront of my campaign. I will challenge ‘viability’ models and hold developers to account, ensuring we build truly affordable council homes.

As deputy chair of overview and scrutiny in Barking and Dagenham, I have first-hand experience of being a ‘critical friend’ and if I make it to City Hall, I won’t be afraid to speak up for Havering and Redbridge. These aren’t just words – I have a proven record of delivery.

My work for Jon Cruddas has seen us save Dagenham police station twice, halt plans to build a super-prison in the area, save the iconic civic centre – which is now a university – and I’m currently organising Jon’s campaign against a mass waste incinerator that would damage air quality.

I have always been passionate about the environment, and since being elected as a Labour councillor in Barking and Dagenham I have worked tirelessly to make the area cleaner and greener. Over the last two years I have: introduced a motion to phase out single-use plastics, led an in-depth scrutiny review into environmental sustainability, fundraised to get the nature book The Lost Words into every primary school, and I am a key stakeholder helping to shape our air quality action plan.

In January 2019, Barking and Dagenham also adopted the mental health charter that I drafted, aiming to end the stigma and discrimination – supporting those in need across our community.

It is fair to say that over the last eight years in the labour movement, I have gone from strength to strength. However, like many in London, my life hasn’t always been plain sailing.

I started out working down the markets in Walthamstow and Haringey. I grafted all through my education and I know what it’s like to make the choice between eating or paying the bills. I also found myself homeless for just over four years – a low priority for limited council housing stock, whilst not earning enough to rent privately. These aren’t unique experiences.

As a Labour GLA candidate, I would be a strong advocate for council housing, the environment, police investment, improving transport networks and supporting our local high streets. Above all, I will be a strong voice for Havering and Redbridge, making sure that the outer boroughs are not forgotten in the 2020 Labour manifesto for London.

Having lived and worked in the GLA constituency for most of my life, it would be a great honour to represent Labour this May. That’s why I am asking members to vote for me in the coming weeks. Together, we can secure a Labour victory in Havering and Redbridge.

Full list: Shortlisted candidates seeking selection by Labour for the London Assembly.

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