Independent-minded critic who’s willing to attack Lib Dems over tuition fees
Published: 17th December, 2010
by PETER GRUNER
UNLIKE many of her political colleagues, from both parties, new Hillrise Lib Dem councillor Lorraine Constantinou is willing to publicly criticise her own side as well as opposing Labour.
She is currently battling with her own party at Coalition government level over increased tuition fees and the lack of security of tenure which new council tenants will have.
But she is also fighting Labour-controlled Islington Council over the lack of improvements on the Elthorne estate, in Archway, where she lives and works.
Last Thursday, Cllr Constantinou, 65, joined Lib Dem colleagues who walked out of a full council meeting amid claims that Labour were “barracking” and trying to score political points rather than deal with issues.
A grandmother who is married to a retired rag trade worker, Cllr Constantinou has been housing manager on the estate for 15 years.
A council tenant, she has lived on the estate for 30 years, since it was built in the 1980s.
The former Labour supporter left the party over the Iraq war and joined the Lib Dems.
She was encouraged to stand as a councillor because, she said, she is someone who likes to get things done.
Speaking about the Coalition government, she said: “I don’t agree with higher tuition fees. The Lib Dems promised that they wouldn’t do it. You don’t break a promise.”
Her son went to university so she knows how expensive it can be. “Higher fees will discourage young people from going to university,” she said.
“And a lot of kids on my estate would benefit from going into higher education.
“You can’t educate children from a young age and then tell them they have to stop at university age because of the fees.”
She is opposed to plans by the government to end the right of new council tenants to have lifetime tenure.
“Why should a new tenant want to look after their home if they’ve only got it for a couple of years?” she said.
Her day job includes making sure rent is collected on behalf of housing agency Homes for Islington, as well as dealing with lettings, complaints and problems.
“I’m rather like an agony aunt,” she added.
She maintains her estate has much to thank the previous Lib Dem council for.
“Anti-social behaviour and crime have reduced since the previous council increased Safer Neighbourhoods police patrols and put up CCTV,” she said.