Politics can seem a complex and sometimes remote issue for people to get involved in. If you understand a little bit about how things work, you have the opportunity to influence how things are done in Walthamstow and how to make it a better place to live.
Here, we try to set out a simple guide to politics in Walthamstow which will hopefully make it a bit easier for everyone to understand. We are not trying to put forward a particular political viewpoint (and if you think we are, email us).
Walthamstow’s political map
In Walthamstow we have got two levels of representation: one relates to our MP and one relates to the Council. Walthamstow is a parliamentary constituency, which means that there is an MP for Walthamstow (see below). Walthamstow constituency runs, roughly, from Forest Road down to Lea Bridge Road, and from Tottenham Hale across to Woodford Road.
The Council covers a slightly larger area. Walthamstow is in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, and the council covers the Waltham Forest area. This means that it covers not only all of Walthamstow, but parts of Chingford (up to Chingford Green) and parts of Leyton (down just south of Leyton tube station) as well.
Your MP and your councillors
Your MP is the person who represents you in parliament. The MP for Walthamstow is Stella Creasy, from the Labour party. Stella Creasy gained 51.8% of the vote in the 2010 General Election, and replaced the former Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard (also Labour), who had represented the area since 1992.
As well as an MP, you also have three local councillors who represent you on the council. There are sixty councillors in total across Waltham Forest, which is three for each ward. A list of councillors and which wards they represent can be found here. Overall, the council is Labour-led – which means that there are more Labour councillors (36) than there are Conservative (18) or Liberal Democrat (6).
So who do I talk to about what?
It is worth finding out who your local councillors are. Much like your MP, they are there to represent your views and to help when things go wrong. Councillors can help with issues which the council is responsible for, such as recycling, parking, community safety or leisure facilities. Your MP can also help with these things but councillors represent a smaller area and will have more regular contact with council officers, so they are your best bet to start off with.
Your MP is there to deal with larger or more complex problems or issues (sometimes called “case work”), such as housing, benefits or visa issues, or where your local councillor has been unable to assist for whatever reason. An MP will often also work on larger issues affecting the whole area, such as the future of the Walthamstow Stadium.
Walthamstow’s political scene
Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have all had candidates in recent elections in Walthamstow. The Green Party also had a candidate in the General Election in May 2010.
Traditionally, Walthamstow and Leyton have had Labour MPs and a mixture of Labour and Liberal Democrat local councillors. You will see above that there are eighteen Conservative councillors on Waltham Forest council, and they all represent areas in Chingford (including the area of Hale End south of the North Circular, which some people think of as being part of Walthamstow).
If you’re interested in becoming politically active yourself, you are best off contacting the local branch of your local political party. Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green Party all have local parties. The Conservatives are most active via their Chingford branch.
Anything else you need to know?
We hope that is useful in setting out quite simply the political scene in Walthamstow. If you’d like to see anything else included here, email us.