Its one of the Square Mile's largest wards and now Castle Baynard needs a new common councillor. Meet the eight candidates vying for your ballot on 9 October.

Castle Baynard will head to the polls next week to elect a new representative on the Court of Common Council.

A whopping eight candidates will be vying for the chance to represent the ward, which is one of the City’s largest geographically and covers Blackfriars Bridge, most of Temple, Fleet Street and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The by-election was called on 9 October to replace long-term councillor Emma Edhem, who stepped aside last month to take on the role of alderman for the Candlewick ward. Meet the hopefuls below:

Timothy Becker

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Previous experience in the City: Mr Becker has contested several City elections and by-elections, including most recently an unsuccessful bid for alderman in the ward of Cheap in June.

Nonetheless he says his work as a barrister based out of the Rolls Building on Fetter Lane, just outside ward boundaries, means he is familiar with the issues facing voters and well equipped to advocate on their behalf.

Key campaign platforms: Homelessness in the ward is high on voters’ agenda, according to Mr Becker, which has established the issue firmly at the top of his own, pledging to use the Corporation’s Social Investment Fund to get rough sleepers off the streets.

He has promised to improve traffic conditions on the ward’s major road arteries and says that as a scooter rider, he is “delighted” the Bank Junction traffic ban has yielded significant safety improvements, but that the terms of the permanent ban require further debate.

Mr Becker is also keen to drive more engagement in local governance in the City through education and improved communication between voters and elected representatives.

“We have seen two women alderman elected in recent months. The City Corporation is most certainly not a talking shop for well healed males.”

Deborah Oliver

london magazinePrevious experience in the City: The Castle Baynard by-election is the first foray into local government for this Barbican resident of almost 30 years, however she’s no stranger to the work of the Common Council with stints as an external member of the police committee, as well as serving on the City of London reserve forces and cadets association executive committee.

Professionally, the corporate communications specialist has worked at a number of organisations in the Square Mile, including Royal Mail and the Royal College of GPs.

Key campaign platforms: Ms Oliver has promised to tackle voters’ concerns over the negative impact of major developments like Thames Tideways and the delayed Crossrail project, as well as disruptions caused by the City’s growing night time economy and rough sleepers around Blackfriars station.

She sees the City’s new Local Plan as key to solving transport problems in the Square Mile and has resolved to advocate on behalf of residents and workers to secure a solid strategy for the ward. As for voter engagement, Ms Oliver wants to push for greater advertising of council elections and by-elections, and says she will advocate to get more people involved.

“I live and work in the City and care about building a sustainable future for this precious place which has been such a major part of my life.”

Julian Malins

business magazinePrevious experience in the City: A familiar face on both the Court of Common Council and the Court of Aldermen, Mr Malins QC was elected to the council in 1981 and served for more than three decades, followed by four years as alderman of Farringdon Without, before hanging up his robes in 2016.

Now, the barrister, who heads up Malins Chambers says he is keen to return to his roots on the Common Council because it’s “much more active” than the Court of Aldermen.

In addition to his career in local government, Mr Malins also mounted a campaign to contest the West Yorkshire seat of Pontefract and Castleford for the Conservative party in the 1987 General Election, but lost out to Labour’s Geoffrey Lofthouse.

Key campaign platforms: Mr Malins is courting business voters with a promise to cut the Corporation’s “unnecessary” expenditure.

He has labelled the local authority “the exact opposite of John Lewis” with a history of “very knowingly” overspending on services, money he says should be diverted towards keeping business rates down and maximising support for City firms after Britain leaves the EU. If elected, Mr Malins says he will seek to reinvigorate the court with the “vibrant debates” and “individual expression of views” he recalls of his previous tenure.

“The Common Council that I remember of the 1980s and ’90s had an extraordinary variety of highly opinionated and active members – I have not seen that in the recent decade.”

Richard Humphreys

london business newsPrevious experience in the City: This will be the first time the Inner Temple resident and  barrister of more than 30 years runs for a spot on the Common Council, but he says his long career as a bencher and history representing both the Inner Temple and Temple Residents Association has him well-versed on all the issues.

He is also familiar with the planning committee, having represented local interests on proposed traffic bans in Tudor Street and New Bridge Street, and extension plans for the Inner Temple Treasury Building in 2017.

Key campaign platforms: Mr Humphreys says that his canvassing of voters in the ward revealed particular concerns over the level of business rates – “it was noticeable how many businesses have had to close in the past year” – and air pollution levels.

He highlights plans for the City’s new courthouse at Salisbury Square as “an exciting prospect”, but also noted the “challenges and associated disruption”, promising to represent voters’ interests and keep them informed.

Mr Humphreys has also promised locals full access if they elect him as their representative, suggesting low voter turnout in Castle Baynard could be because of its geographic position on the outskirts of the Square Mile, and would be improved with better engagement.

Merlene Emerson

breaking news ukPrevious experience in the City: None in the common council, although the solicitor and commercial mediator has more than 30 years experience working in the Square Mile, which she says has equipped her with a solid understanding of City voters’ concerns. Ms Emerson ran as Liberal Democrat candidate for the London Assembly twice in 2008 and 2010 and has been involved with local and community politics for over a decade. In 2016, she was awarded an MBE for political and public service in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours. If successful in Castle Baynard she will be the first person of British-Chinese heritage to be elected to the Common Council.

Key campaign platforms: Ms Emerson says her background as a partner in a Singapore law firm involved in cross border finance and international joint ventures has equipped her with the skills to help those in the City Corporation working to ensure there is no cliff-edge over Brexit.

“We need to protect existing businesses and jobs in the City as well as attract new talent to secure its place as a leading global financial centre.  I would like to encourage more businesses to take on apprenticeships and help our young people make a break into the City,” she says.

She wants to establish the City as a leading local authority in providing value for business rates and council tax through improving the efficiency of services like street cleaning, housing and support for the vulnerable.

Expect to see her make her mark on the arts too, with plans to get involved in the Culture Mile scheme to transform the area around the Barbican Centre and Museum of London into a world-leading arts and entertainment hub.

Natasha Lloyd-Owen

london news nowPrevious experience in the City: Another first-time candidate, Ms Lloyd-Owen says her experience living in the Barbican Estate and working in Holborn as a criminal barrister means she is well-positioned to represent both voting groups in Castle Baynard.

The sole Labour candidate up against seven independents, Ms Lloyd-Owen says she was inspired by the success of Labour representatives in Cripplegate to run on the party ticket.

Key campaign platforms: Homelessness is high on Ms Lloyd-Owen’s agenda, as it has been throughout her professional practice since being called to the bar in 2013.

She says she first became interested in the City during her pupillage representing rough sleepers at the City of London Magistrates’ Court, and would push to establish the first outreach centre within the Square Mile, and encourage more cross-borough collaboration on initiatives that tackle the root cause of homelessness.

Ms Lloyd-Owen is also hoping to deliver more initiatives that support the mental health of workers and reduce the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety at work.

“As a junior criminal barrister, I am all too aware of the impact that long hours and a high-pressure environment can have on a person’s wellbeing and I want to make sure that everybody has access to the resources they need.”

Alpa Raja

london local newsPrevious experience in the City: Eagle-eyed Castle Baynard voters might recognise Alpa Raja’s name from the ballot papers last May, when she ran an unsuccessful campaign for a ward seat in the City-wide Common Council elections.

The accountant and insolvency practitioner with GBR Recovery in Temple Chambers admits she went into last year’s vote with no idea how “organised” her opponents were, but maintains she won’t be making the same mistake this time around.

“I don’t think you necessarily need a lot of experience in local politics, you just have to have a passion for where you live or work, understand the issues and want to drive change.”

Key campaign platforms: Top of Ms Raja’s to-do list is addressing the number of collisions at the Tudor Street and New Bridge Street junction, where plans to consult on a safer road layout were last month put on hold by the streets and walkways committee to accommodate ongoing developments in the area.

She is keen to further the City’s efforts around mental health awareness for workers and strengthen community ties by building programmes and events around the area’s cultural and religious institutions.

With the Corporation under scrutiny this year over the lack of diversity among its elected representatives, Ms Raja, who is of British-Asian heritage, says it’s time the Common Council had some fresh faces.

“The one thing that’s really disappointing is the lack of diversity on the Common Council in terms of gender and ethnic minority, and it’s not at all reflective of the people actually living and working in the City,” she says.

Virginia Rounding

financial news ukPrevious experience in the City: The author and literary critic served six years on the Common Council representing the ward of Farringdon Within, but lost her seat in the City-wide elections in 2017. She says she has missed being “an advocate” for those who live and work in the City, and is fully aware of the scale of the “job to be done”.

Key campaign platforms: Ms Rounding has pledged to reinstate the Community Police Forum, champion pedestrian safety by getting TfL to review intersection travel times and traffic light sequences, and improve communication between councillors and their constituents through email and social media.

Diversity of representation on the Common Council is another hot button issue for Ms Rounding, who says that the gender balance has improved since she was first elected in 2011, but that the lack of remuneration for elected representatives “inevitably makes the pool of possible candidates smaller and less diverse”.

“I would press for the question of payment to be kept under review, and for research to be carried out among the electorate to determine whether it is a limiting factor in widening representation.”

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