Hackney mayoral by-election: Independent candidate Peter Smorthit promises referendum on LTNs

Independent candidate Peter Smorthit. Photograph: Josie Hughes

An independent candidate for the upcoming mayoral by-election in Hackney wants a referendum over the future of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

Peter Smorthit ran in Hoxton East and Shoreditch in last year’s council elections as one of the Hackney Independent Network candidates. This time he is running on an independent ticket.

He decided to throw his hat into the ring for mayor after attending a recent council meeting where transport was discussed.

“I thought I might as well go for it,” he said.

If successful in next month’s by-election, he wants a referendum on the borough’s controversial LTNs – which close some roads to through traffic.

He thinks Hackney Council should look at the impact of the changes on boundary roads.

“I believe in cleaner air for everyone,” he added.

Smorthit has been a familiar face at Hackney and Islington council meetings when LTNs have been up for debate.

He also wants to see more social housing built, and to give residents a voice in council policy.

Smorthit said some residents are bemused about the by-election, with some voters unaware the previous mayor had resigned.

Labour’s Philip Glanville quit after seven years after he was photographed at a party last year with new councillor Tom Dewey. The event took place just hours after the mayor had been told that Dewey had been arrested by the National Crime Agency.

Dewey, 36, was given a 12-month suspended sentence in August after admitting five charges of possessing indecent images of children. He also stood down as a councillor and left the Labour party.

Voters go to the polls to pick a new mayor on Thursday 9 November and the ballot papers will be counted the following day.

So far, three other people have announced they will stand.

Dalston councillor Zoë Garbett is running for the Greens.

Caroline Woodley, who is Hackney Council’s cabinet member for families, parks, and leisure, is the Labour candidate.

Actor Simon de Deney, who ran in the 2014 mayoral election, is standing again for the Liberal Democrats.

Mayoral by-election candidates have to submit their nomination papers by Friday 13 October.

Residents who are not yet on the electoral roll need to register by Tuesday 24 October.