In #GE2017, meet...The Millwall Candidate
A fascinating story about how successful local action against heedless development plans can generate a political response.
The Guardian reports that Willow Winston, a 72-year old local artist, will be contesting the Lewisham East seat in London at the UK General Election on June 8th. She is being backed up by the Association of Millwall Supporters (Millwall AMS), a supporters' group connected to the local football club.
Millwall AMS led a successful protest earlier this year against the local Labour council's plans to sell off community-trust-owned land surrounding "The Den" (the Millwall stadium), to shady offshore developers.
Winston had been threatened with eviction from her home by Lewisham Council's "compulsory purchase order" (as draconian as it sounds). Her beloved house was filled with decades of sculptures, with a poor offer of compensation. She roused herself to object to the plans, proposing detailed objections, and became the unlikely heroine of the supporters' groups also protesting the development.
Here's a statement from the AMS Millwall group, who has raised funds to launch Winston's campaign:
“Our candidate is honest, well versed in community activities and above all, extremely disappointed with individuals not having a voice against the mighty powers of local developers and local councils in their continued proactive practices of social cleansing.
“We have felt for a long time that inner-city communities are being forced to move out of their homes at alarming rates. The continued gentrification of areas in cities all over the United Kingdom is, we feel, potentially destroying generations of local communities.
“The AMS believes that it’s time to drain the swamp, to fight back against said commercial organisations and realise that these are our areas, these are our homes and playing fields that are being sold from underneath us. This fight will be fought on fairness, honesty and integrity.”
I’m now part of this community, very much so. I’m part of Millwall too – I go on Fridays to play football. I’m in contact with that part of the community, with the marvellous work that Millwall does in the community. It’s irreplaceable.
They are a football club, but they also do so much for the area. The number of kids you see go to Millwall – it’s really a thriving organisation for the community and it must not be destroyed...
The finger must now be pointed at everyone involved in this wretched scheme. I can’t really say anything at all about Mayor Bullock and his friends. I am glad it is not me who will be judging these people but others.