As the people in Lewisham head to the polls on 22nd May 2014 to elect a new mayor, Duwayne Brooks, a young black man has a real chance of winning the elections.
And should he emerge the winner, Mr Brooks will become the second ever elected black mayor in the UK.
So far John Archer remains the only elected black mayor in the UK. He was elected in 1913, some 101 years ago.
Mr Brooks, who is the Liberal Democrats candidate, says he wants to become the next elected Mayor of Lewisham because “Lewisham deserves a change.”
He has set out a six point plan, what he terms “my Six to Fix”, to improve the borough for everyone.
His first point is to fix failing schools. Mr Brooks says he will set up a commission to look at why Lewisham’s secondary school performance is so poor compared to other boroughs.
He plans to create a team to look at Free School applications and work with parents to develop ideas on how they can ensure enough new primary school places are created to meet the increased demand.
Mr Brooks also plans to set up a fund, to which voluntary organisations can apply for funding to provide free school holiday play schemes to support families in Lewisham.
Mr Brooks’ second plan is to fight crime in Lewisham. “I will cut serious youth crime and end this tit for tat gang violence in the borough. No parent wants to receive that dreaded phone call. I will offer inspirational alternatives to deter those in crime. If they refuse to change their ways, I will evict known persistent criminals from gang members to burglars and those that are a nightmare for their law abiding neighbours.”
As part of his strategy to fight crime, Mr Brooks says he will promote early intervention in schools and with parents to prevent children and young people from getting involved in crime.
Mr Brooks’ third plan is to promote jobs and opportunity. He has an ambitious plan of creating 2,000 new jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.
He also plans to offer specific training opportunities for the over 50s and long term unemployed to boost their social capital and chances of finding meaningful work. “Too many people in this borough have lost hope. It’s time to change that,” says Mr Brooks.
His fourth plan is to focus on getting the basics right. Mr Brooks says he will deal with residents’ concerns about litter and rubbish, improve street cleaning and estate caretaking and fix broken lights.
He also plans to boost Lewisham’s shockingly low recycling levels by offering recycle bags to those who live in flats and high rise apartments where there is no immediate access to recycle bins.
Mr Brooks’ fifth plan is to create a decent home for all in Lewisham. He says he will drive out private rogue landlords with a licensing scheme to protect the area’s vulnerable residents.
He also plans to create a housing band exclusively for 18-24 year old residents who have grown up in Lewisham, and give additional priority to long-term Lewisham residents on the housing list.
Mr Brooks’ sixth plan is to better roads and parking in Lewisham. Apart from offering pensioners an annual free visitors parking permit to help encourage visitors, he also plans to extend 20mph zones across the borough and improve road safety education for children in schools.