Gospel Oak by-election: Green candidate Dee Searle promises ‘new kind of politics’

Dee Searle. Picture: Dee Searle

Dee Searle. Picture: Dee Searle - Credit: Archant

The Green Party candidate for the Gospel Oak by-election has said she wants to preserve what makes the area “precious” as she sets out her platform.

Dee Searle. Picture: Dee Searle

Dee Searle. Picture: Dee Searle - Credit: Archant

Dee Searle, a former foreign correspondent and charity worker, believes the time has come to try a “new kind of politics” after years of inaction by Labour.

The election, to be held on May 4, was called after Labour councillor Maeve McCormack quit the council – and Camden – because she could no longer afford to live in the area.

Ms Searle – who lives in Willes Road, Kentish Town – said she has three main priorities for Gospel Oak.

They are: introducing a new way of doing politics, fighting for cleaner air and working to keep jobs in the area.

Dee Searle. Picture: Dee Searle

Dee Searle. Picture: Dee Searle - Credit: Archant

The 59-year-old, who reported from Bulgaria as the country’s communist regime was collapsing, said: “One big party that sits there in its bunker not talking to people doesn’t work anymore.

“When the Labour council tries to do something nominally good, like the recent changes to bin collections, they don’t consult people.

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“But the Greens aren’t a massive party, so we need people to talk to us – it’s a new kind of politics.”

She also said more flats will not help the area – but stressed that it is crucial to protect tenants’ rights.

“Houses are always being built and it’s turning the area into a dormitory,” she said.

“Small businesses are having to move out – but I want to preserve this precious area and not leave it to the market.”

She added: “It’s a very interesting microcosm of Camden, with the green and comfy north and more urban south. But why can’t it all be green and a great place to work?”

Ms Searle also said there was a “clean air crisis” in the area and that it must be dealt with urgently.

“There have been no real solutions on clean air from Labour,” she said.

“If we manage to get another Green councillor then we have two in Camden, and that means we can put forward resolutions and second them.”

She added: “People think the Greens are all about saying ‘Don’t do things’ but really we just want a positive alternative – we want to make streets so nice that they wouldn’t want to drive a car through them.”

But she said she doesn’t have her “head in the clouds” and knows it is a safe Labour seat.

“We’ve been making inroads and we offer something new,” she said.

“What we’re saying is: ‘Vote Green – give us a chance – and see what a difference we can make’.”

She added: “I’m sure it’ll be a fun campaign either way.”