Labour Cllr & Former Kensington & Chelsea MP 2017-19
Before entering politics full time, Emma spent 30 years working as a journalist and researcher working in design, architecture and planning. In her 13 years as a Councillor for Golborne Ward in North Kensington, she has challenged the Conservative-led Council’s spending priorities and their plans for handing over public assets to private companies, by sale or lease. Four days after her election in 2017, the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity devastated the communities with huge loss of life. Emma felt strongly and passionately that communities had to be empowered to take back control of their lives and to have access to their legal rights, their dignity, their freedom to thrive, and choice as they age and may need help to live independently. This applied to all parts of the social and economic spectrum.
Her work on the injustices surrounding housing of all kinds, particularly social housing and the dangers it can bring – not just fire safety, but dangers to physical and mental health – concerned her for many years before June 2017, and will undoubtedly do so for many years to come.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain which is why Emma pledged to tackle the inequalities in life expectancy, income, physical and mental health, education and life chances which she found to be shameful in a first world country. Emma’s personal values as a socialist have developed in this context. It’s simple: people should pay the full amount of tax they owe in the country in which their income is earned, and ensure employees are paid a decent wage. In return they should expect to receive a level of pay they can live on, the services they’ve paid for, to be educated, and to receive health and adult social care free at the point of access when needed.
Emma’s first ever vote in 1975 was to remain in the Common Market the UK had joined two years before. In 2016 she campaigned for and voted to Remain, along with nearly 70% of Kensington voters. However the current position of economic no man’s land is devastating to many. The UK may ‘leave’ the EU on 31 January, but the uncertainty about the terms of the Written Agreement, how we will trade and with whom, and the future of our EU nationals will continue for some time. Many fear the uncertainty will continue past the end 2020 deadline, and Emma shares that fear and believes it’s already had a very bad effect on the economy.
During her term in Westminster, Emma worked hard to consolidate, extend and improve her links and networks with individuals, voluntary organisations, residents’ associations, religious groups, amenity groups, activists and campaigners across Kensington on their issues and struggles and hopes to maintain these links as far as possible within her remit as a Councillor sitting on Planning Applications and on Audit and Transparency Committee, and wants people to feel free to contact her if their group or campaign needs support. As chair of the Labour Group she is able to bring their concerns to Councillors.
Kensington is a beautiful and historic area, and very diverse, with over 50% of residents non-British born. Having been born in Chelsea and spent more than half her life in Kensington, the area is in her DNA. This is one of many reasons why she fights against unwelcome development alongside campaigners and residents’ groups – and takes these issues personally.
Emma will always stand with residents in the North, South, East and West of Kensington, against developments which threaten to destroy neighbourhoods and communities, and against the loss of local assets and services and will also use all the influence she has to protect, maintain and improve the historic and listed buildings, conservation areas, parks and public realm, for the enjoyment of all residents and visitors.