I was on hand to see sparks fly between Mayor Johnson and residents of Waltham Forest. Despite his best attempt to fool the electorate with his usual foppish persona, residents took the Mayor to town on Housing and the Minimum Wage. Thankfully, Assembly members including Tom Copley, Fiona Twycross and Murad Qureshi were on hand to give some straight forward answers.
For me, the highlight of the evening were the discussions around the local economy, the living wage and housing. In particular, residents of Waltham Forest were frustrated that, despite the Mayor's support for the living wage, there were still 1 million Londoners living below that threshold. What is even more worrying is that specific industries such as social care and cleaning industries are much worse at missing the living wage number. This detail was brought to light by our colleague Fiona Twycross AM. As I've mentioned before, Chingford has the highest proportion of people in London living below the living wage. It's more important than ever we continue our campaign for getting as many employers in London paying the minimum wage. Labour is committed to doing so more than any other party at the next general election.
Housing is another concern for the residents of Waltham Forest. It was not simply a demand for more housing, but a nuanced understanding of the location and the type of housing that was discussed. Many residents were angered at the disinterest of the Mayor during his term that EC1 has become so rapidly gentrified that it has driven out a huge low income population from the area, widening the inequality gap. Because of the demand for housing, many letting agents are applying letting agents fees prior to any search or transaction. This is something Tom Copley identified, and has been campaigned against by my colleague Stella Creasy MP in the borough. If you're aware of any such underhanded tactics in Chingford or Woodford Green, please let me know.