Socialist mayoral candidate promises no more cuts as she vows to fight for government funding

TUSC candidate Annoesjka Valent. Photograph: TUSC

Hackney would “take the fight back” to Downing Street to avoid budget cuts if voters elect the socialist candidate as mayor.

Former council employee and union worker Annoesjka Valent said: “I would not cut any more services. I know they are sitting on reserves. I would fight to bring that money back to Hackney.”

She said both government and Hackney Council have reserves which could be used to protect jobs and services.

Valent is standing as a candidate for TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

She pledged not to accept the full mayoral salary if elected.

“I will only take a worker’s wage, not the bloated £89,000 salary.”

Valent backs calls to scrap Hackney’s mayoralty entirely.

“It’s undemocratic and its concentrated executive power in the office, with only limited accountability,” she said.

Her priorities include housing, jobs and services.

“I want to always be there with the workers. I would not stand for any cuts.

“I will absolutely fight for workers and residents.”

She also wants to see more support for youth services and is critical of cuts in that area, stressing the importance of activities and after school clubs for children.

The council’s proposed closure of two primary schools and merger of four others because of falling school rolls could be stopped if she becomes mayor.

Valent proposed smaller class sizes “to improve education instead”.

She is also opposed to school conversions that have led to the academisation of most secondaries in Hackney.

She is calling for the council to build 100 per cent social housing when it acts as developer, and rejects the model of working with private developers to try to hit a target of 50-55 per cent.

“With thousands of people on the council housing list, I would fight for 100 per cent,” she said.

She also has her eye on empty properties which could provide much-needed homes.

Valent also wants to take a fresh look at Hackney’s parks service, and has plans to team up with a green charity to plant more trees.

She proposed working with the council’s parks department to grow more food locally.

“With people relying on food banks, what if we could grow more food locally and do that sustainably?”

Residents would be consulted about the location before the first spade went into the ground, she pledged.

“Meaningful consultation” is also needed about the future of the borough’s low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), she said, rather than scrapping or introducing more of them.

Valent supports work to cut pollution but is wary of fines, which she feels are a “tax on local people”.

She would also lobby “for a free-to-use, publicly owned transport system” and is opposed to public transport cuts and new driving and parking charges.

Valent, who has a degree in criminology, said “community cohesion is really important”.

Her comments come at a time when there are extra patrols to reassure Jewish and Muslim residents after the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza.

She said Hackney’s diversity is one of its strengths.

Valent criticised the “really racist” strip-searching of Child Q at school by police.

“I would bring Hackney police under local control.”

She explained that when she worked in Hackney Council’s drugs and alcohol team, there was a multi-disciplinary approach, involving police, the council and health service.

“That was lost when it was disbanded,” she said, and called for a new look at policing in Hackney.

The candidates standing for election on Thursday 9 November are: Zoë Garbett, Green; Caroline Woodley, Labour; Peter Smorthit, Independent; Simon de Deney, Liberal Democrat; Simche Steinberger, Conservatives; and Annoesjka Valent, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.