Bush Blog Editor Bart Govaert recently interviewed the new Councillor for Wormholt & White City, who won a thumping result in the by-election caused by the sad death of Jean Campbell. She would be a hard act to follow in anybody's eyes but Bart's interview reveals that Max is a man with a plan...
We met up for an interview with the new Council member for Wormholt and White City.
Max Schmid actually grew up in the United States, in California, but he came back to the UK to do his degree in history. He then worked as an environmental consultant before doing a Masters in African politics.
For the last two years he has been working for an environmental and human rights charity.
Max lives in Parsons Green, which to us in the Bush feels like a very genteel place indeed, though Max rightly points out that it is a mix of social housing and private dwellings, much like Shepherds Bush. He also lived in Hammersmith before.
Max has been very involved in the West Kensington Estate, which is very similar to White City (and another one that H&F Council is trying to knock down - sometime with dubious tactics). This work gave him a good good understanding of issues many residents of these estates encounter.
I asked Max what he wants to achieve?
Clearly being in the opposition it is hard to actually get legislative work done. However, as a member of the council, Max strongly believe he can be an advocate for the people in his ward, he can bring up issues in the council chamber, he can question offices, communicate out and end the disconnect between the council and at least some community groups
Max believes that sometimes the H&F council is simply trying to bulldozer through whatever they want to achieve, and they do not really practise the Big Society.
Clearly, the next election is 16 months away - and Max believes that the Conservatives may struggle to hold the council
In our area in particular, Max is trying to work with the residents of White City. Max is in particular scathing of the council’s housing policies. It is very clear that the council simply wants to reduce the number of residents on benefits or low incomes. In many instances low cost housing requirements are easily waived (eg for Imperial)
Max is keeping a close eye on developments in the White City “opportunity area” (this is the first stage for redevelopment). Much of the project wants to achieve says sounds good, however, it is not clear at all how local residents are really involved.
Max is in concerned about the changes in benefits, people are going to need to leave. This is going to increase with the bedroom tax. Many of these are vulnerable people. Max has seen a lot of people in his surgery who clearly are clearly not coping with the changes. In some cases he has been able to help.
Max's overall vision is to help out to create some change for the ward. It is really needed - even the life expectancy is lower than in many other parts of H&F. We should stop building endless projects for wealthy people, and chose a balanced social population ... go against divided communities. Instead, the amount of social housing continues to decline (and the waiting lists have been changed, so that really only people in categories A and B have a realistic chance of being helped).
Max came across as a very serious person, who has a clear vision for the ward. Max’ first speech to the council is also very much worth reading.