Get to know Labour’s candidate for Highgate in Camden, Panny Antoniou, who is also International/Outreach Officer of the Young Fabians and our Young European Socialists bureau member.
Why are you standing to be a councillor in your local community?
To be able to represent my constituents on the issues which matter to them would be a great honour. Whether it’s on education, the environment, or the new homes which Londoners so desperately need, I want to be a voice for those who feel marginalised or who are underrepresented. To paraphrase one of the Labour Party’s great leaders - an opportunity to serve is all I ask.
Tell us about the ward you are standing in, such as the biggest concerns on the doorstep and what makes it unique.
When you say the name “Highgate”, many people make assumptions because of our many famous residents and long history as the home of the well-heeled. However, that perception could not be further from the truth. As well as being the largest ward in Camden geographically, Highgate has some of the starkest inequalities in the whole borough. Some of our borough’s most deprived areas are in Highgate as well as some of its wealthiest. These contrasts are what make Highgate such a unique place.
This diversity means that issues vary widely from resident to resident. However, some issues remain consistent. We all want to ensure that all children growing up in Highgate have the best chance in life, which is why we are building a new community centre which will be a hub for young people. Preserving our natural environment and tackling climate change is another priority with Labour councillors working to keep Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve in community hands, and of course, ensuring that everyone has a safe and secure place to live which is why Camden Labour has committed to one of the most ambitious new council home construction targets in the UK.
How did you find the selection process, and do you think there are ways it can be improved to better support young members?
The selection process in Camden is fantastic and I was lucky to feel so supported throughout. All panel candidates were able to attend training workshops before selection and I was able to learn so much more about the process from these.
In terms of supporting young members, the best thing you can do is ask them to stand. Here in Camden we have one of the youngest councillor cohorts with one of the youngest council leaders in the country. We are also 50% female and 40% BAME. We are a team which truly reflects the diversity of the communities we are looking to represent and one which would not have been possible to assemble without significant effort and support from more senior party members.
What do you hope to bring from your experiences within the Young Fabians into local government?
Having served as a Policy Officer for the Young Fabians Devolution and Local Government Network as well as having helped found our brand new Housing and Infrastructure Network, I want to bring fresh ideas and energy to the role. As an incubator for ideas, the Young Fabians are unparalleled and it is this as well as the thirst for change which we all share that I will bring to the role.
What would be your advice to Young Fabians who are considering standing for local government?
Whilst I don’t support many of their business practices, in this situation I would advise to adopt the mantra of Nike; just do it! You have more experience than you think and our generation needs a voice. If you are sick of decisions which affect your life being made for you rather than by you, then it might be time to think about standing.
How can YF members help your campaign between now and May?
Campaign, campaign, campaign. I am standing in a marginal seat up against the former leader of the Green Party and we could use all the help we could get. We canvas on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays so if you want to join us, just drop me a message. My Twitter is @panny_antoniou and my email is [email protected] and I would love to have your help and support.
And if the joy of campaigning alone doesn’t enthuse you, Highgate has some of the best green spaces in London with the famous Hampstead Heath located almost entirely in our ward.
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.
Background Photo of Blog Header by Crookesmoor via Wikipedia.