Lois Austin is the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for the East Ham Central ward by-election. You can also vote for Lois in the London-wide list for the Greater London Authority.
Lois lives on Katherine Road and is a member of the Socialist Party. She has campaigned for years against council cuts to public services, for workers’ rights, and against poverty and poor housing.
Newham has been devastated by austerity, gentrification — and now Covid.
Covid — never again
Between March and April last year, Newham had the highest age-standardised death rate in England and Wales. 144 deaths per 100,000 — compared with 25 in wealthier areas. Poverty and poor housing are to blame.
Last year, Lois initiated protests to support bus drivers and health workers fighting to get the PPE they needed. Unlike the Labour council, she supported education workers in their struggle to keep schools closed — open only for vulnerable and key-worker children — until safe.
Since the lockdowns, over 10,000 in the borough have had no access to public funds. Many are overseas students, now joining Newham’s long queues at food banks.
Even before the pandemic, Newham child poverty was nearly 70%. Unemployment sat at 14%, double the London average. Up to 36,000 Newham residents worked below the minimum wage.
The response of the mayor and council to the deep problems in this borough is woefully inadequate.
Reverse the cuts
Newham Council is sitting on ‘usable’ reserves of £560 million – with total reserves over £1.7 billion! Instead of investing in jobs, homes and services, they choose to make cuts.
Last year, the council cut £45 million from local services. Austerity taxes like new parking charges are part of the same scheme. Lois is working with campaigners in the borough to fight the cuts, and propose an alternative, no-cuts, needs-based budget. This would use council resources, including reserves and borrowing powers, to invest in services and housing — alongside fighting the government for more resources for Newham.
The alternative to this, presented by the Labour mayor and council, is to keep on making Tory cuts — and let our community pay the price.
Build council homes
Newham has the worst housing crisis in the country. We need to build council houses and introduce rent controls.
Even before the pandemic, one in 25 people in the borough were homeless — the highest in England. Some 28,000 are on Newham’s housing waiting list. More than 5,500 families with children live in temporary accommodation.
Newham’s Labour council has not repopulated the Carpenters Estate —despite promises from the mayor. Now the council says only a portion will be council housing. The rest? Private sale — completely out of reach for most of us in the borough.
The council also refused to stand up to big developers at the Boleyn Ground. Almost all those homes are for private sale. Lois campaigned then — and calls now — for 100% council housing.
For democratic rights
Lois supports the referendum to abolish the office of the Newham mayor. Too much power is in the hands of the mayor and ‘super-cabinet’ — who take high salaries while making cuts.
Lois is a lifelong anti-racist campaigner and took part in Newham’s Black Lives Matter protests. She is also a core participant in the Mitting Inquiry into Met Police spying on activists and trade unionists.
Vote TUSC on 6 May
- No cuts to council services! For a needs budget to meet the needs of all, and a mass, trade union and community-led campaign to win the funding from Westminster
- Fight for emergency government funding! We need resources now to protect residents, workers and service users in the NHS, education, transport and public services
- Build council homes now! Repopulate the Carpenters Estate with 100% council housing
- No to gentrification and the big business land grab! Save Queen’s Market and oppose any threat to Hamara Ghar elderly residents’ accommodation
- No to austerity taxes! Stop the new resident parking charges that hit the working class and poor. Invest in quality public transport, infrastructure, and a network of safe cycle paths
- Revoke the eviction of Stratford Circus arts centre! Fund expanded youth services across the borough.
Promoted by James Ivens on behalf of Lois Austin, both of 277B Katherine Road, London E7 8PP