The Battle for "the New Zone Six"
By Valentine Agamah
Just when you think it’s safe to forget about politics and tuck into that well-deserved Easter Egg, think again. The two main political parties are using the current distraction from Brexit to turn the attention on each other, and of course, themselves.
The two upcoming elections will be the first for a while that won’t be London-centric. Firstly, in just two weeks 259 councils go to the polls to elect local councillors. Many of the London commuter belt will be heading to the polling stations. Areas such as Elmbridge, Tandridge, Thurrock and Bedford remain key areas for our clients and are widely considered to be “the New Zone Six” and so we will watch these seats with keen interest. With some elections in thirds, some may not change hands.
Bedford is of interest as it has historically gone the same way as the country including in the 2016 referendum, however in 2017 it again reflected London’s other catchment areas. Its shift to Labour was attributed to young professionals moving out of the capital and taking their voting habits with them. The pressure this is creating on the need for housing solutions is one that our clients are keen to embrace. This has been reflected here at Cascade by the rise in projects we are working on outside the capital.
Only time will tell how this impacts the European Elections in just three weeks time. The Liberal Democrats, who would have hoped to pick up some of the Brexit anger, will now have to wait until the European Elections which are set to take place on the 23rd May. They would have been hopeful that the “Brexit Backlash” would result in council gains in the areas with young commuter professionals, however these votes will now go to Labour as they will be seen as the only real legitimate opposition to the Conservatives. And as for the Conservatives? Cascade’s source in the campaigns tell us that getting the vote out is the issue. The majority of voters and members feel let down but won’t actively vote against the Party - at least not until the 23rd May.
Of course politics in 2019 is as much about how the parties are fighting themselves as they are each other. As I write this today, a letter is going around Conservative Association Chairs asking for a motion of no confidence in Theresa May. The letter has been organised by the London East Area Chairman, Dinah Glover, and looks set to easily reach the 65-signature target.
The Labour Party, not to be outdone, look set to re-select all of its current London Assembly candidates. Many long serving “sensible” candidates will struggle to be re-selected by the volatile left leaning London Labour membership. Watch out for Haringey & Enfield and Greenwich & Lewisham. Rumours that Sadiq Khan hasn’t got involved enough are doing the rounds. But the question is why would he? The new London Plan will shortly be implemented and an ideologically driven Assembly will only further reinforce the need for greater control over London’s planning policy. The hope for the property industry is that he finally starts to use his power to help them deliver for him and for London.
So make the most of that hot cross bun and Happy Easter.
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Valentine has experience in delivering residential, commercial, infrastructure, and mixed-use schemes across London and South East England. Before joining Cascade, Valentine worked at a public affairs and communications agency for four years with a focus on public sector, property, infrastructure, and planning procurement.