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Green Party candidate Jess Lee on why she wants to be Ealing and Hillingdon London Assembly Member

London gets to vote for the Mayor and London Assembly Members on the Greater London Authority on 2 May 2024. EALING.NEWS has asked all London Assembly Member candidates for Ealing and Hillingdon 7 questions about who they are, what they hope to deliver and why they want residents in Ealing to vote for them.

Jess Lee standing for the Green Party answers the 7 questions:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you want to be the next London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon?
I’ve lived in the constituency all my adult life and work here too. I came to Ruislip Manor for pleasant but moderately priced housing, trains to London, local shops, lots of places to walk in the evening and ways out into the countryside at weekends.

I’m always exploring, fascinated how the forces of nature and human beings have shaped the land, water bodies, boundaries, travel routes, buildings, communities, businesses, wildlife and habitats that are here today.

For 25 years I’ve volunteered in the green spaces and waterways in Hillingdon. We do practical tasks to conserve nature and enable access. As well as litter-picking, clearing intrusive vegetation and monitoring water quality we work with experts on natural flood management and river restoration schemes.

The Mayor has powers and responsibilities affecting all these fields of life and more. I want the power to challenge the Mayor to make wise policy decisions and implement them fairly for everyone in Ealing and Hillingdon.

Whilst I’ve a lot more to learn about Ealing, there are many cross-borough topics between Ealing and Hillingdon. Our communities are severed by east-west rail lines major roads, airports and HS2. We are linked by TfL bus routes, tube lines and local roads, watercourses and green spaces, educational and NHS catchments and public water supply.

When the Mayor makes decisions about health, pollution, planning and transport, the cost of living and the quality of life, I need to be there!

2. What is your own personal connection to either Ealing or Hillingdon or both?
I was born and brought up in the London Borough of Harrow. My mother was born and brought up in Stanwell Moor just beyond the southern boundary of Hillingdon.

Her home and the fields she knew and loved as a child adjoined the beautiful River Colne and were exceptionally rich in plants, birds and all sorts of wildlife. This place literally no longer exists because it is now under a motorway junction and part of an airport. Like many people who have moved and cannot go back home, she still feels homesick at times.

This motivated me to stand up for biodiversity and a healthy environment. With Hillingdon Greens I campaigned against the massive impact of HS2 across the mid Colne Valley in the north of Hillingdon and Chilterns – which sadly can be seen and must be believed. This is still a live issue, even more since contaminated water from HS2’s industrial civil engineering work is being pumped to existing sewage treatment works which are already overflowing into the Colne and its tributary the Misbourne.

The overflow of mixed effluent runs off into the Colne. Drinking water extraction points further downstream of the treatment works have had to be turned off. I support nature recovery along the River Crane green chain that runs all the way through both Hillingdon and Ealing, and the Brent also, which runs through Ealing. My mother is now 103 and lives with me. As an unpaid carer myself I want to make sure the Mayor’s policies will meet the needs of older Londoners, disabled Londoners and carers (both professional and unpaid). I can personally offer a wealth of evidence on hospital travel, access, mobility and the barriers preventing disabled Londoners and carers’ full participation in society.

I am proud that Greens on the London Assembly have worked so hard to push toilets onto the Mayor’s priority list and will work to keep increasing their availability.

3. What do you consider to be your three top political achievements and what impact have they had?
One that springs to mind recently is supporting the Hillingdon Greens in the recent high profile by election. We got national press coverage which we felt was quite respectful of our candidate. We were able to widen the debate to reflect important local concerns like water quality and the need for real data to inform air quality policy.

Another is working with the Green Party’s manifesto team to increase the emphasis on policies helping outer London communities and businesses. Improving
transport networks in outer London, flattening the fare structure, protecting biodiversity and river networks, remediation of landfill just a few examples.

We have campaigned alongside other groups to get the state of Rivers right up the political agenda and hold water companies and the regulator to account for their lack of action.

4. What do you consider to be the top 5 challenges Ealing faces and how will you as the London Assembly member address them?
Healthy and Affordable Housing – ensuring Ealing has homes for all, including Council and Social housing and affordable private rents, remains a huge challenge despite the increase in tall buildings. I’d work to with the London Assembly to provide affordable and safe homes across West London, and make sure local residents are involved in how this happens.

Joined up Travel in West London- the Elizabeth line has been a fantastic addition to Ealing transport links, but we need to make sure residents can get across the Borough and to all the key places too. I’d ensure we listen to residents on the bus routes that need better service, and make sure hospitals, health centres and schools are all easily accessible by public transport.

Protecting people when they are vulnerable- carers, both paid and unpaid, do incredible work supporting vulnerable people. I’d campaign to ensure they are
properly supported with a living wage and compassionate help as appropriate.

Protecting nature and water quality – green and blue spaces are good for our physical and mental health. We need to make sure we protect the spaces we have, and create more so all can benefit. I’d look at equity across the Borough, for example making sure that areas with fewer street trees are targeted first.

Hope in the future- Facing the climate crisis together is an amazing opportunity to work as one community all facing the challenges, listening to each other and finding the way forward together.

5. What do you love about the borough of Ealing?
I’ve received a great welcome whenever I have visited groups here. I love the friendliness of people and the variety of characterful places and spaces to explore by cycling and walking, also specifically the courtesy of drivers when I have cycled in the borough!

6. How accessible will you be to Ealing residents and how can they get in contact with you now and if elected how will you ensure you are accessible to them in the future?
I find no-one knows who their assembly member is. I’ll try to change that by being present in local news. I’d like more face to face contact rather than just social media and will be happy to come to places in Ealing on fact-finding site visits, if you’ll invite me.

Greens on the GLA have a great track record of researching issues that affect Londoners and publishing reports to inform public debate and the Mayor’s policy, so I want to contribute in this way as much as possible.

7. If elected, will this be your full time job or will you maintain any other paid for jobs or public offices?
I’ve often joked that I am a full-time carer with a paid part-time job in my spare time! If elected I’ll need to balance all my commitments and keep on top of what’s most important in my life as well as doing justice to my new role at the GLA.

To free up more time for my work on the GLA, I might have to start a mini jobcreation scheme. From my increased salary I would pay other people to do the
domestic chores and gardening, work as a companion/carer for my elderly relative and take on my share of admin work for various voluntary groups. When push comes to shove, my existing employers will have to recruit replacement staff for my library hours and disabled cycling sessions. But this is perhaps looking ahead more than the foreseeable future.

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