‘We have to help people to help themselves,’ says single mum Tory Gospel Oak by-election candidate

Gospel Oak by election Conservative canididate Leila Roy. Pictue: Polly Hancock

Gospel Oak by election Conservative canididate Leila Roy. Pictue: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A single mum and registered disabled, Leila Roy abandoned the Labour Party for “giving the needy a blank cheque” and is now standing as the Conservative candidate in the Gospel Oak by-election.

Ms Roy joined Labour for a year in a bid to make a difference in her community. But the 31-year-old freelance journalist jumped ship and joined the Tories, claiming it “was not the right fit”.

The council tenant, who lives in Savernake Road, Gospel Oak, said: “We didn’t have the same values. I’m a single parent and registered disabled because I have a heart condition, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do things. I’m trying to raise my son and I believe that you should still contribute to your community.

“I found that ironically I have more things in common with the Conservative party, a strong work ethic and I believe in helping people to help themselves. Labour has lovely ideas about helping people but they write people a blank cheque.”

Born in France, Ms Roy moved to London to study journalism at Middlesex University. She had a son, but split from her partner and found herself homeless and staying in a hostel in Belsize Park.

She first became involved in community campaigning when her son Anton was not allocated a school place in the borough.

Ms Roy helped the council set up the temporary Courthope Road Education Centre in All Hallows Church to cater for dozens of children after a shortage of places in 2009. She also helped in the early stages of the Abacus Belsize Free School campaign.

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She claims there is still a shortage of school places in the borough and has put the issue at the heart of her campaign.

“It’s brilliant that these free schools are opening but we cannot rely on those and bulge classes every year.”

Ms Roy is also a founding member of the Gospel Oak Real Deal Community Partnership, a campaign group which became embroiled in a row with the town hall about their approach to the regeneration of the area.

She said: “This is where I live and this is my opportunity to make it better and I think I have an understanding of the area and the community.”