Get to know Ellie Ormsby, the Labour and Co-operative Councillor Candidate in Lancaster Gate, City of Westminster, as we continue our Meet the Candidate blog series. You can find Ellie on twitter at @ormsby_ellie.
Why are you standing to be a councillor in your local community?
I joined the Labour Party 10 years ago. I did this after seeing the impact of austerity in my community and wanting to change that. Here in Westminster, I can see the same damaging policies from our local Conservatives, which have left this area one of the most starkly unequal in the entire country.
Our local Conservatives have hiked up rent for tenants living in Council properties, defunded local homelessness charities, cut the social care budget, failed to meet their own targets for affordable housing and closed youth centres. All this while splurging £6 million of taxpayers’ money on the Marble Arch Mound and granting planning permissions to a whole host of luxury developments.
I felt I had to play my part in turfing out this tired Tory administration by standing for election.
Tell us about the ward you are standing in.
I’m standing in Lancaster Gate. Lancaster Gate is a central London ward that spans from Queensway to Paddington, covering a chunk of Kensington Gardens. You may think an area like this, so close to some of the wealthiest areas in the country, would be similarly wealthy. However, alongside the affluence, we have real pockets of deprivation.
We have residents living in the Council owned Hallfield Estate living with dangerous falling masonry due to the Council failing to carry out basic repairs to keep people safe. On the same Estate, we have residents who have been waiting over a decade (that’s right, 10 years) for double glazing from the Council, leaving their homes freezing in the winter months. More generally across Westminster, the area frequently tops the table in terms of numbers of rough sleepers and more troublingly it’s been reported that 1 rough sleeper dies on Westminster’s streets every 10 days. All evidence of struggles many people in my ward are facing, but who are let down time and time again by the Conservative Council.
Despite this, Lancaster Gate has been a Conservative stronghold since its inception. In 2018 however, we saw the margin narrow and take us within 251 votes of winning. One further change, which we’ve been keen beneficiaries of, is the ward boundary changes. Lancaster Gate has lost some ‘typically Conservative’ areas and gained some ‘typically Labour areas.’ This has meant it is all to play for in this upcoming election and the response we’ve been receiving on the doorstep has been encouraging.
How did you find the selection process, and do you think there are ways it can be improved to better support young members?
We have a great team here in Westminster who kicked off the selection process early. Our Labour Group invited applications all the way back in December 2020 and I was selected in July 2021. I felt having this long-lead time, which allowed me to chat with sitting councillors to better understand the role, consider my application and build up my support base, was beneficial.
More generally like most young members, I hadn’t had much previous experience of hustings and speechmaking before and having to do so for one of the first times in my selection campaign was daunting. It would be good to see organisations like the Young Fabians and the Labour Party do more to prepare young members for this aspect of the process, as it’s the one element that puts most people off, especially women and minority members.
How can YF members help your campaign between now and May?
We are within touching distance here of taking control of Westminster City Council for the first time, but to do so we must win wards like Lancaster Gate. The only way we can win here in Lancaster Gate is with an army of volunteers ready and willing to speak to voters. So, the best way you can help us here in the run-up to the 5th May is by joining us on the doorstep!
For the next month, we’ll be out on the doorstep every day in a bid to mobilise our core vote and squeeze the progressive Green / Lib Dem vote in the area. We’ll also be delivering a ginormous stack of election addresses and targeted direct mail focusing on hyperlocal issues. We’ll need all hands on deck to be able to pull this off – so do please reach out if you have a spare hour to help us.
Acknowledging getting down here in person won’t be feasible for everyone, the next best way to support us here in Westminster is by sharing and liking our social media content. We want as many people as possible to see the great work we’re doing down here as candidates already, and with your help we can do that!
What would be your advice to Young Fabians who are considering standing for local government?
My piece of advice would be don’t worry about not having enough experience or the right experience to run. The unique perspective and energy you’ll bring to the table will be more than enough to be an amazing representative for your community.
Nevertheless… if you do want to start developing your campaign experience in advance of your own future elections, join me in Lancaster Gate on the doorstep and I’ll show you the ropes!
If you are a Young Fabian standing in the May local elections, please email our Blog Editor Jimmy at [email protected] if you’d be interested in being featured here on the blog.