Jennette Arnold announces she won’t stand for re-election to London Assembly
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The London Assembly member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest has announced she will not contest her seat in the next election after 20 years service.
Jennette Arnold OBE announced at Mayor’s Question Time yesterday that she isn’t standing at next year’s election.
Jennette spoke with the Gazette about her proudest achievements as an Assembly Member and the issues – like the need for trains on the Barking to Gospel Oak line and step free access at Finsbury Park Station – that she remains committed to championing during the twilight months of her tenure.
“I have found if you stay for so long you get so many wonderful memories,” she told the Gazette this morning.
“It really is difficult to pick one because I’m really privileged to have been involved in so many great things.
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“I can’t not mention my involvement in bringing the Olympics to London – and working with Ken Livingstone was an incredible experience because he was very enabling and let me get on with it.”
Jennette, a former nurse and councillor in Islington’s Mildmay ward, chaired the Cultural Strategy Group for London under Livingstone and helped deliver the 2012 games.
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Pressed on her relationship with Ken, who was suspended from Labour after becoming embroiled in an antisemitism scandal in 2016, Jennette said: “There is no other politician I have met or worked with who has been so passionate or knowledgeable.
“When he is having a good day he is up there as a leading politician. But, it has to be said, on a bad day you have to shake your head.”
Reflecting on the two other mayorships’ she’s seen, she praised Sadiq Khan’s environmental and home building reforms but said it was still to early to properly appraise his legacy.
On Boris Johnson, she claimed “He was in love with himself” and had “no ambitions for London, just for himself”.
Jennette also chaired the London Health Commission and campaigned for a “smoke free London” ahead of the indoor smoking ban in 2007.
But she said helping constituents is the most rewarding aspect of the job. She cited a recent casework example, where a woman undergoing surgery at a north London hospital was struggling to get her parking fees cancelled until Jennette stepped in.
She continued: “Being an Assembly Member is about being there for constituents, whatever it is.
“The recent example is the nightmare and frustration of the Barking to Gospel Oak Overground line users.
“We just have to write letters saying how disappointed we are.
“But we could go and barricade ourselves where the trains are,” she joked.
The line has a shortage of trains, with Network Rail and TFL both blaming each other for a delayed upgrade
She said she was supportive of the City North luxury flats development springing up over Finsbury Park Station as “it will bring industry, jobs and employment to the area”.
Jennette has been a long-standing campaigner for step-free access at that station, which is set to be delivered in weeks as part of the City North station redevelopment.
She added: “One of the most difficult things about major projects is dealing with peoples’ disappointment with delays. It’s regrettable.
“Even another day’s delay has an impact on our lives but it’s going to be a better entrance with lifts and much needed step-free access.”
Jennette, who endorsed Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn when he first ran for leader in 2015, says she’s happy with the direction Labour’s taken under his leadership.
“I have campaigned alongside Jeremy Corbyn for 30-odd years,” she said. “They call us a cult for supporting his leadership but he is a man of great integrity and it’s been a privilege to work with him.”