The best thing about being an elected politician is making a difference to people’s lives. This has always been my motivation and why I fought so hard to be elected as a Labour councillor in Fulham – along with a burning desire to reverse the cruelty of Conservatives cuts in our community.
I won the local council election last year and now represent 15,000 residents in Fulham. People often ask me how Labour secured victory in a ‘safe’ Tory ward that was previously held by the Conservatives for 17 years? The short answer is the community was crying out for change: residents in Sands End were fed up of having the heart of their community ripped out – and sold off – by the Conservatives.
Residents in Fulham have not forgotten that the Conservatives closed the Youth Club in Sands End and sold it to luxury property developers. The Castle Club on Broomhouse Lane was an after-school play centre for young children and, in the evenings, it was a Youth Club for teenagers. The Conservative council closed and sold it for redevelopment, even though the building was gifted to the community “for the care of children of Fulham” by philanthropist Laurence Sulivan in 1855. The Conservative Council and Greg Hands MP simply didn’t care.
After the Youth Club on Broomhouse Lane was closed, there was a surge in anti-social behaviour in the area which you can read about here and here. Tragically, the effects of its closure are still being felt by the community and are made worse by Conservative cuts to police officer numbers.
Labour are different. I prioritise community facilities and particularly youth provision. That is why, the moment I was elected as a councillor last year, I made it my mission to secure a Youth Club in Sands End so that thousands of teenagers in Fulham have somewhere safe to enjoy structured activities with friends. I worked tirelessly with the Labour Leader of H&F Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan, along with planning officers and – a few months later – we got our wish. A new £3.75m Youth Club will be built on the Fulham Gasworks site in Sands End. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have also been allocated to nearby community space whilst the facility is being built, in order to boost local service provision.
We have seen time and time again across Chelsea & Fulham that community facilities are not a priority for the Conservatives. Nationally, nearly £400 million has been cut from youth services by the Conservatives and over 600 youth centres have closed. Labour will end the Conservative cuts to youth services and give extra funding to local government to protect communities. That’s the difference between us and them. The Conservatives close Youth Clubs. Labour rebuilds them. That’s the difference residents in Sands End are seeing since they voted for Labour in 2018; and that is the difference residents in Chelsea & Fulham will see by voting for Labour at the next General Election.