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Labour Party candidate Bassam Mahfouz on why he 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.

Bassam Mahfouz standing for the Labour 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?
Having arrived in Northolt with my family at the age of 4, Ealing and Hillingdon is my home. It’s where I have grown up and where I now raise my children, so it’s an area I love and know exceptionally well.

I came into politics as a community representative at the age of 17 and I have been standing up for my community ever since. I’ve been a councillor in Ealing for almost 20 years and I’m incredibly proud of my record: from lifting thousands out of low pay onto the London Living Wage, to taking on Boris to win much needed lifts at local stations such including Greenford & Hanwell.

I spend much of my time speaking to residents across Ealing and Hillingdon and I hear time and time again how much people are hurting after 14 years of the Tory’s cutting public services and mismanaging the economy. They are crying out for a politics of hope and change. I have always been about delivering positivity and change, by being authentic, accessible and accountable.

In my current day job, I run a refugee charity, which last year helped over 2,000 vulnerable people with support.I have a strong track record of delivery, the energy and skills to be Ealing & Hillingdon’s strong, local voice at City Hall and with your support on 2 May, I can do exactly that.

2. What is your own personal connection to either Ealing or Hillingdon or both?
My family left war-torn Beirut and came to Northolt when I was four years old. I have lived in Ealing ever since. I attended St. Raphael’s RC Primary School, before attending Gunnersbury High School, and now I am raising my family locally, with my boys attending local schools.

I’ve represented Northolt West End at Ealing Council for almost 20 years and for a lot of these years I’ve been a cabinet member.

As a cabinet member, some of my achievements are:

· Bringing thousands of low-paid staff onto the London Living Wage
· Making Ealing the second-best recycling borough in London and ensured none of Ealing or Hillingdon’s waste is sent to landfill
· Introduced one of the most progressive council tax support schemes in London and the country
· Supporting charities and the voluntary sector through the COVID-19 pandemic
· Working to get lifts installed at Greenford & Hanwell stations when they had been rejected by TfL
· Working to get HS2 tunnelled through the borough rather than accepting the government’s plans to run it overground
· Making our streets safer with improved junctions and safe crossing points at a number of locations
· Approving the re-wilding of Hanwell’s Warren Farm
· Introducing new sports facilities for young people including making Northolt the home of Middlesex FA and delivering new sports facilities at Gunnersbury Park
· Becoming London’s First “Circular Economy Champion”

Alongside this, I’ve worked closely with local residents to assist them on issues close to their hearts to make a difference to their lives.

3. What do you consider to be your three top political achievements and what impact have they had?
Lifting thousands out of low pay and onto the London Living Wage by ensuring that Ealing Council and all of its contractors paid the London Living Wage to staff.  Everyone deserves a decent living income and ensuring that more companies sign up to the London Living Wage is something that I will continue to fight for.

Working to get lifts at Greenford and Hanwell stations, with Northolt & North Acton coming next!  When my mother got cancer, I appreciated how so many are impacted by a lack of accessibility to our tube network.  That’s why I’ve been passionate about pushing back against TfL and others to fight to ensure everyone in our great city can access the tube.  I know what a difference it has made for older people, parents with prams, wheelchair users and so many others and it’s a fight I will continue.

A strong green record: As Environment lead at Ealing, I raised our borough to be the second best recycling borough in London and ensured none of our waste is sent to landfill.  In addition to that, I introduced London’s first Circular Economy Route map and have supported the rewilding of Warren Farm in Hanwell.  We’re facing a Climate Crisis – I want to be able to say to my children that I’ve done my bit to leave the world a better place for them to inherit and it’s something that I will continue to champion

4. What do you consider to be the top 5 challenges Ealing faces and how will you as the London Assembly member address them?
People are hurting. Wherever I knock on doors or speak to people they tell me about the additional costs they can no longer afford or the services that are disappearing.

A few weeks ago, I was knocking on doors when it was bitterly cold. Door after door, after door, people came out of their homes to greet me on the doorstep wrapped up in a coat and scarf, wearing hats. Recently a woman told me she had called for an ambulance after believing she was having a heart attack – there were insufficient ambulances to respond, so instead she was sent a minicab to pick her up. Almost every day, I have people crying on the phone as a result of their housing situation, as landlords whack up rents or flee the market because of sky-high interest rates.

People can’t go on like this.

My priorities will be:

1. Ensure we tackle the housing crisis, by building 40,000 genuinely affordable homes across London, trial rent-controlled properties and end rough sleeping on our streets
2. Support those facing the cost-of-living crisis with Free School Meals and wherever possible continuing to freeze fares on TfL
3. Tackle crime and the causes of crime: Re-connect the police with our communities, by increasing community-based police by 1,300, and ensure there is funding for youth services.
4. Investment in our public transport that builds on the success of the Elizabeth Line and my successful campaigns to improve accessibility: Lifts for Northolt and North Acton stations; more express bus routes for Ealing (Super Loop) and push for the West London Orbital line.
5. Take action on the climate crisis with rewilding of Warren Farm, improve active travel options and make west London the economic powerhouse of driving a green economic recovery.

5. What do you love about the borough of Ealing?
Ealing has been my home for almost 40 years, it’s where I’ve chosen to raise my family. It’s got amazing green spaces from Northala Fields, to Horsenden Hill and Hanwell Zoo, to the canal and river. I love appreciating the borough in all its beautiful, majestic glory on my regular runs through its open spaces.

I love that Ealing is a borough that is incredibly well connected, has brilliant schools, fabulous cultural life including the unmissable Jazz, Blues and Comedy Festivals, through to being the home of the infamous Ealing Film Studios.

I love the rich diversity of people that, like me, call it home and I love their entrepreneurial spirit, their innovative drive and the energy that makes it the heart of west London.

I love that in the face of adversity, such as when we had to deal with the Ealing Riots, the unforgettable terrorist bomb in the town centre, that we come together and stand up to hate with hope so that Ealing can rise from those situations stronger and closer than ever before.

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 have promised to be accessible, authentic and accountable.  My mobile number has always been published online for people to be able to get in touch with me directly.  I will hold coffee mornings around the borough so that people can connect with me in person and will reach out to community groups, events and local businesses.

To be an effective representative, I know it’s important to listen and I will continue to do so, to be an effective strong, local voice for Ealing & Hillingdon.

7. If elected, will this be your full time job or will you maintain any other paid for jobs or public offices?
If elected, I will be stepping down from my role as Director of a Refugee Charity. Like many other Assembly Members, I will continue to be a councillor.

Are you an Ealing resident with a story to share? Or spotted something we should know about?
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