Campaigning and community

I was born in Woolwich, brought up in Greenwich and live in Charlton. I’m passionate about south-east London and want to see the neighbourhoods I know become better places for people to live and work in. This has spilled over into some campaigning work…

A102 No to Silvertown Tunnel: In December 2012, I worked with journalist Adam Bienkov to set up a petition against plans by London mayor Boris Johnson to build a road tunnel between the Greenwich peninsula and the Royal Docks.

The Silvertown Tunnel will attract more traffic to the already clogged-up roads in SE London, causing more pollution and affecting the lives of children and adults on both sides of the Thames. I should know – I was brought up next to the Blackwall Tunnel approach, and believe my own lungs have been affected by pollution.

The petition aimed to spread awareness of the scheme and highlight Greenwich Council’s role in supporting the proposals. A few months later, Network for Clean Air offered us the chance to take part in a “citizen science” air pollution study, involving putting small tubes on lamp posts.

We gathered together a group of volunteers, which has led to No to Silvertown Tunnel becoming a full-blown campaigning organisation. We’ve undertaken three air quality studies and helped other local groups become aware of and take action over pollution issues.

A public meeting in October 2013 saw 100 people turn up, putting air quality back onto the local agenda, making two local newspaper front pages. In May 2014, I won a Clean Air In Cities Award for this work.

By January 2015, we had London mayoral hopeful Christian Wolmar address our first annual general meeting.

We’ve also had meetings with local politicians on the issue, and have worked alongside groups such as Campaign for Better Transport and Friends of the Earth, as well as others concerned about the return of urban roadbuilding in London.

We’ve got a great committee running the campaign, and I’m in charge of publicity and communications – we regularly appear in local newspapers, and the campaign has featured in the Financial Times and on both the BBC and ITV London TV bulletins.

Darryl in 2010My dalliance in local politics: I stood in Peninsula ward in the 2010 Greenwich Council election for the Green Party. I’d just taken redundancy from the BBC, wanted to do something positive in my local area… what could be a better idea?

I raised the party’s profile with local journalists using campaign materials such as press releases and a revamped local newsletter. Before I arrived, the role of party press officer was merely to write grumpy letters to papers.

I didn’t get elected, but was proud to have got 1,066 votes in the area where I grew up.

Here are the newsletters I worked on:

I’m no longer involved with the Greens, but I’m proud of my work there. I found standing for election a valuable experience; the contacts I made during that campaign were instrumental in 853 becoming a website about local news and issues, as I found there were plenty of local stories that weren’t being told.