The former Labour Councillor for Cannon Hill, Mark Kenny, has announced that he has defected to the Lib Dems and endorsed Paul Kohler’s campaign to be the next MP for Wimbledon.
Mr Kenny resigned as a Labour councillor in May this year. In the by-election held to choose his successor the Lib Dems won an historic victory, with local champion Jenifer Gould overtaking both the Conservatives and Labour to win.
Mr Kenny cited the Lib Dems’ unequivocally anti-Brexit stance and Paul Kohler’s reputation as a hard-working and effective local champion as key factors in his decision.
“Having seen Paul at work as a Merton councillor I know he will be a fine MP for Wimbledon working for the benefit of us all”, said Mark Kenny. “His spearheading of the successful campaign to keep Wimbledon police station open displayed many of his qualities: his hard work and attention to detail, his persistence and his determination not to give up.
“I have the utmost respect for him as a person of honesty and integrity and fully endorse his campaign to become our Liberal Democrat MP.”
“I know it isn’t easy to turn your back on your old party, but at this election we are seeing huge numbers of former Labour and Conservative voters coming over to the Lib Dems - not just because we are the only Remain party standing in Wimbledon, but because we are putting forward real solutions to Britain's most pressing problems”, said Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler. “I want to thank Mark for his brave decision and his generous endorsement.
“Recent polling shows that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can beat Boris Johnson’s Conservatives here in Wimbledon - Labour are simply too far behind.
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and tackle the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency. I hope more people will follow Mark’s example and back me so that Wimbledon can have the strong pro-EU, anti-Brexit voice in Parliament it deserves.”
Mark Kenny’s endorsement comes on the back of Paul Kohler’s selection by cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning group Unite to Remain as the official ‘Remain Alliance’ candidate in Wimbledon. As part of the agreement the local Green Party stood aside in Wimbledon, while the former Green Party candidate Sonja Timpson has given her backing to Mr Kohler.
“I am stepping aside as Green Party parliamentary candidate in Wimbledon as I would like to be able to give voters a clear choice between a Remain candidate and candidates whose parties are either pro-Brexit or unclear in their position”, said Sonja Timpson.
“I will be voting for Paul Kohler because of our parties’ shared commitment to Europe and to voting reform, and also because I feel that this is our best chance of squashing any potential Tory majority.”
Want to help Paul Kohler win in Wimbledon on 12 December? Join his campaign today.
The first specific poll of voters in Wimbledon shows a two horse race here, with the Conservatives holding the slimmest of leads over local Lib Dem, Paul Kohler.
It shows that 38% of Wimbledon residents said they would vote Conservative, with 36% currently intending to vote Lib Dem. The Labour Party are trailing in third place.
The poll was conducted by Deltapoll and paid for by non-party aligned individuals to provide objective data for the constituency.
“This poll reflects everything we’ve been hearing on the doorstep”, said Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler. “Former Labour and Conservative voters are coming over to the Lib Dems in droves - not just because we're the largest anti Brexit party, but because we are putting forward real solutions to Britain's' most pressing problems.
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and tackle the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency. Wimbledon deserves an MP who will stand up for the rights of EU citizens and fight for Britain’s place in the EU.
Local Lib Dems have welcomed the decision of the Green Party to stand aside at this election.
The cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning group Unite to Remain, will endorse the Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler as the champion for anti-Brexit voters in Wimbledon. As part of the agreement the Green Party will not field its own candidate.
The announcement spells trouble for Wimbledon’s incumbent Conservative MP Stephen Hammond. Recent projections by the Best for Britain group predict a tight race in Wimbledon between the Liberal Democrats, who are pledging to ‘Stop Brexit’, and the pro-Brexit Conservatives.
Speaking following the announcement, Cllr Paul Kohler said:
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and address the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency.
“Wimbledon’s current MP voted for Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal and has repeatedly refused to give his constituents, who are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, an opportunity to have the final say.
“As the official Remain Alliance candidate in Wimbledon I am best placed to beat him and ensure Wimbledon has a Remainer MP that it deserves.
“I am grateful to the Merton Greens for standing aside in this election”, Cllr Kohler added. “We share a determination to end the catastrophe of Brexit and a strong commitment to protecting our precious planet from the damage being done by climate change, and with the support of local people I can win Wimbledon and stop Brexit.”
Sonja Timpson, the Green Party’s former candidate for Wimbledon, said:
“I am stepping aside as Green Party parliamentary candidate in Wimbledon as I would like to be able to give voters a clear choice between a Remain candidate and candidates whose parties are either pro-Brexit or unclear in their position.
“I will be voting for Paul Kohler because of our parties’ shared commitment to Europe and to voting reform, and also because I feel that this is our best chance of squashing any potential Tory majority.
“Merton Green Party is a growing force and we have worked hard over recent years to promote affordable housing, to highlight the problems with outsourcing and to tackle the ongoing litter problem in the borough. Our members are active in a number of local environmental groups and we played a key role in persuading the council to pass a cross-party motion to declare a Climate Emergency. We trust that Paul Kohler will look at prioritising some of these issues as Wimbledon’s Member of Parliament.”
Liberal Democrat candidates Sarah Olney, Munira Wilson, Ed Davey and Paul Kohler are writing to the South Western Railway and the RMT rail union to demand that they stop the planned strikes immediately.
Members of the RMT will walk out for 27 days throughout December, causing chaos to commuters, to businesses and to people travelling for Christmas.
Following reports that more than half of the 25,000 EU nationals living in Merton have not yet been given settled status - while around a third nationally have had their applications rejected - the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon, Cllr Paul Kohler, slammed the government for refusing to guarantee every EU citizen’s right to stay in the UK after Brexit.
“I am extremely concerned for the thousands of EU citizens here in Merton who are facing uncertainty over their futures, and I fully support Merton Council’s efforts in urging all EU nationals to apply for settled status as soon as possible.
“However, there is no point ignoring the real issue here: this Conservative Government is actively making it as difficult as possible for EU citizens who have made their homes here to stay.
“This is a callous act from an immoral government, and one which runs totally contrary to Britain’s liberal values of openness to all.
“As it stands thousands of people here in Merton - some of whom have lived in the borough for decades, raised families here and made significant contributions to their local communities - could find themselves at risk of being told to leave the UK as a direct result of this government’s actions.
“I call on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the decent thing and immediately guarantee every single EU citizen’s right to remain in the UK.”
The Merton Liberal Democrats have assembled a response to Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGCBE)’s 2019 review of the ward boundaries of Merton. We conducted a survey of our members, supporters and local residents, to seek your help in determining the local communities with which people identify and gather views on how the current boundaries might be improved.
Having analysed the results of this survey, we used these insights, alongside our own experience having lived, worked, and in several cases represented these wards, to formulate a complete scheme for the wards of the borough guided by the legally mandated criteria for ward boundaries which the commission is obliged to follow. You can see our submission in the document linked below.
Download the Merton Liberal Democrat response here
Merton Council has declared a climate emergency.
The declaration was seconded by newly elected Lib Dem councillor for Cannon Hill, Jenifer Gould, who used her maiden speech to urge the Council to take strong action against climate change.
Following the meeting Cllr Gould said:
“Our environment is one of our most precious assets, and protecting it for ourselves and for our children should be the first priority of any politician.
“I am proud that my first act as a councillor for Cannon Hill has been to second this important motion to declare a climate emergency here in Merton, and to kick-start the urgent action needed to eliminate carbon emissions in the borough.
“This is why I wanted to become a councillor - to take real action to address the issues that really concern local people. This is only the beginning, and I look forward to continuing to make a difference for residents in Cannon Hill and across Merton.”
You can watch Cllr Gould's speech here, and Lib Dem deputy leader Cllr Carl Quilliam's speech here.
Liberal Democrat council group leader Anthony Fairclough added:
"I am pleased to have been able to work with the Cabinet Member to develop this Climate Change Emergency declaration for Merton.
"We pushed for the emissions of contractors like Veolia be considered part of the Council’s target to become carbon neutral by 2030. This is because we fear that the Merton’s achievements so far in reducing emissions from the 2012 base level are largely on the basis of excluding Veolia and IDVerde operations from the calculation.
"We were also keen to create a framework that gives the new working group space to come up with innovative ways support residents and businesses reduce emissions – and yet one that shows real public leadership. Accepting the Labour party's proposal of a date of 2050 to make the borough carbon neutral is a compromise. It’s in line with both national targets and Council fears about cost and ability to meet targets - but with the caveat that we want to see as much active support as possible for people to cut their carbon emissions, with the aim that carbon neutrality is reached as soon as possible and before 2050.
Merton Liberal Democrats were delighted by the results of the Cannon Hill by-election last Thursday, where we increased our share of the vote by 24% to win the seat. Newly elected Cllr Jenifer Gould takes the Liberal Democrat group on Merton Council up to 7 - the highest it's ever been!
We would like to thank everyone in Cannon Hill who gave their support to Jenifer.
Speaking after the results, Jenifer said:
“I am absolutely overwhelmed by the support I have received from the local community. I would like to thank everyone who put their faith in me, and I look forward to repaying that faith by becoming a councillor they can trust to work hard for them.
“This incredible victory shows clearly that the Lib Dems are now the most popular party in Wimbledon, and the party local people can trust to be on their side. Just as they did at the European elections in May, Merton residents are backing us ahead over both Labour and the Conservatives because we are the party fighting nationally to stop Brexit and locally to secure a fresh start for Merton.
“The real work starts now. I am ready to start working with my Lib Dem colleagues on Merton Council right away to give our area the fresh start it deserves.”
Merton Liberal Democrats have warned that plans to start charging people for using local tennis courts will price residents out of the sport, and threaten Wimbledon’s status as the home of tennis.
Council bosses have confirmed that users of four public tennis courts in Wimbledon,* where historically charges have not been applied, will now have to pay to access the courts through an online system.
The maintenance of the tennis courts has been contracted out by Merton Council to a private company, Idverde. Under the terms of the contract Idverde will charge court users, with all money raised up to a certain amount kept by the company.
The Labour council's ongoing ‘commercialisation strategy’ has already seen pitch charges introduced for the first time ever at the Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Fields, threatening the future of Raynes Park Little League. Merton Conservatives have also previously proposed raising charges for Council services.
Merton Liberal Democrats led the campaign to save the local Raynes Park Little League, and have warned that the decision to start charging for the use of tennis courts could have a similarly unfair impact on local people.
“Our local parks and sports facilities are cherished by our communities,” said Cllr Carl Quilliam, Deputy Leader of the Merton Liberal Democrats, “but Merton Labour’s decision to bring in charges without consultation or consideration will end up pricing people out.
“This is sadly symptomatic of a Council which too often treats Wimbledon residents as a cash cow.”
“Wimbledon is the home of tennis,” said Jenifer Gould, the Lib Dem candidate for the Cannon Hill by-election, “but it will never be home to a future Wimbledon champion if the Council prices local people out.
“Merton Lib Dems will lead the campaign to keep our tennis courts free. And, if I am elected on 20 June, I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues will continue to lead the opposition to Labour’s attempts to squeeze ever more money out of Wimbledon’s residents when they should be investing in our health and our future.”
Lib Dem candidate for the Cannon Hill by-election is fighting to stop the charges. Join her campaign today.
*The courts, all in Wimbledon, at which charging will be introduced are:
- John Innes Park
- Wimbledon Park
- Joseph Hood Rec
- Dundonald Rec
Local residents are bracing themselves for a crucial by-election in Cannon Hill, where voters are expected to give their verdict on the performance of Merton’s Labour-run council.
Merton Lib Dems are eyeing a victory in the contest on Thursday 20 June, and have announced local parent Jenifer Gould as their candidate.
The by-election was triggered following the resignation of a Labour councillor amidst rumours of divisions within the Labour administration. Ms Gould says that frustration at the job the Council is doing will be a key factor in the by-election.
"I have lived in this area for the past eight years," Ms Gould said, "and I have experienced the issues that local residents have to put up with: from mucky streets caused by a failing waste collection service, to a spate of burglaries that will only get worse if the closure of Wimbledon Police Station is allowed to go ahead."
Ms Gould already has a reputation as a determined local campaigner, having fought successfully for improved road safety schemes outside Hillcross Primary School. She says she is ready to bring her community spirit to the Council chamber as Cannon Hill’s next councillor.
"Labour have failed to address the issues that matter to us," she said, "and have taken Cannon Hill residents for granted for far too long. Cannon Hill is ready for a fresh start, and I am standing, backed by the Liberal Democrats, to give them that fresh start."
Ms Gould described how the Lib Dems’ people-focused approach contrasted with the indifference of Merton Labour, and declared that a Lib Dem victory on 20 June is a very real possibility.
"People are losing faith in the Labour Party nationally and locally here in Merton. I used to be a Labour member myself, but I cut up my membership card after seeing how Merton Labour ignores local people in order to serve the interests of party bosses.
"Instead I found a home in the Liberal Democrats, a party that stands up for local people’s values and fights to improve our local communities.
"The Lib Dems are now the biggest party in Wimbledon. We have more councillors here than Labour, and we won the most votes in the European elections, beating both Labour and the Conservatives. I’ve spoken to many former Conservative and Labour voters who are switching to us, and with their support we can win here in Cannon Hill."
Want to help Jenifer Gould win in Cannon Hill on 20 June? Join her campaign today.