Your Full Name and age?
Jack Briggs, 29 years old and turning 30 before the elections.
Attended Alexandra Palace comprehensive in north London and left at 17 to start my career. Since leaving secondary school I have taken short courses in areas of interest, such as a Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments diploma, Planetary Science at University College London, professional Google accreditations. I’m also a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketers.
For the most part, I have progressed in my career down to having a strong work ethic, a passion for self-learning and being a harsh self-critic – always wanting to improve.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Looking broadly at this question I’d have to say I’m most proud of my daughter and daughter-to-be. Keeping a happy, well-balanced child that has separate family living arrangements has been, and often continues to be, a challenge. I’m very proud of her and know she’ll be driven and successful later in life, in whatever area that may be. My girlfriend (who’s 8 months pregnant at time of writing!) and my family who have supported me, through tough times, make me proud and feel lucky to have them.
Whilst I’ve had numerous achievements through my profession nothing really comes close to the above.
What is your connection to Limehouse?
I was born in and raised in London, like the majority of my family, and come from a working-class background with both my father and grandfather being shopkeepers on the local high street. In my early years I grew up on a council estate in north London and spent my childhood living with my two brothers, mum and dad. Shooting forward 25 years or so, I moved east to Canary Wharf. For the last 3 years, I’ve been living on a barge in Limehouse Basin. I’m the Chair of Limehouse Berth-holders and play a very active role within the Limehouse Community Forum and a primary school where I sit on the Governing Board.
Tower Hamlets and Limehouse is woven into my family’s history. Many years ago, my great great Grandfather was a Docker on the Isle and my great grandfather was a policeman based in Limehouse station. My mother was born in Bow (to the sounds of Bow Bells!) and she’s served as a School Governor, community volunteer and still currently a serving magistrate - installing strong community and volunteering ethos in me from very early on.
What single personal skill will you bring to the job of representing the people of Limehouse?
The single most important skill has to be empathy. The job of Councillor requires a whole range of interpersonal skills, but at base-level the people of Limehouse need an on-the-ground ear they can voice their issues to. That empathy then needs to turn into assertiveness, problem solving and decision making at council level.
Here's a list of some of the Local Authority committees, which ones would you look to join?
- Grants Scrutiny,
- Housing Scrutiny,
- Overview & Scrutiny,
- Freedom of the Borough Ad Hoc Panel
- General Purposes,
- Investigation and Disciplinary,
- Joint Committee of the Six Growth Boroughs,
- Standards (Advisory),
- Strategic Development
The ones I’d look to be appointed to are in bold above. I’d like to note that I feel these four committees bear greater influence on Limehouse and therefore important to have a voice in.
If you could only take an active role in only one committee, which one would it be?
Tough question and tough decision. On balance, and putting Limehouse first, I’d take a role on the Strategic Development committee. The current progress with our neighbourhood plan, and considering how impactful developments are to our already dense ward, makes a position on this committee stand out.
That being said, the council has an undercurrent of incompetence flowing throughout and if I could take only two roles, the other would be a position on the Overview & Scrutiny committee.
Is it more important to discover problems or find solutions?
Looking at it holistically, it’s about being both proactive and reactive to issues we face or ideas we have. For example, we can react to a recent spike in crime and provide quick-fire solutions. Then there’s being proactive to issues we know will come to light or ideas that could make a real difference to the future of Limehouse. Those problems or ideas should always be discussed with solutions in mind. You need to give equal importance to both, otherwise the solution will likely be not suitable. Quoting G Chesterton;
“It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.”
Currently the administration has these deputy mayor positions, if given the choice, which post would you want to be appointed to?
Cabinet Member for Culture and Youth
Cabinet Member for Environment
Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services
Cabinet Member for Community Safety
Cabinet Member for Resources
Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Services
Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth
Cabinet Member for Strategic Development and Waste
Due to my work in a primary school I have a passion for education and the future generations.
Which deputy position would you not prefer to take up?
Again, very tricky as all of the cabinet positions above have huge impacts on swathes of people living and working in Tower Hamlets. If I’m honest, I’d be honoured to be selected to any cabinet position and feel (hope) that I can make improvements and a difference to those constituents affected.
What do you feel is the most important issue in Limehouse today?
The most pressing issue is most certainly crime and anti-social behavior. I’ve been working closely with residents, council officials and the police to support cohesion and collaboration in recent weeks. The collective spirit shown in Limehouse over the past two weeks has been incredibly impressive and to some degrees, moving. The efforts of many over this last week have made me proud to be a resident here.
Looking to solutions, we need to be innovative and agile to stamp out this current spate. I’ve helped drive initiatives, such as a Basin Safety Whatsapp group and kept dialogue as open as it can be with the community at large. Moving on from the current Operation Naga, we need to think longer term and I for one support the draft PSPO for Ropemakers Park. Whilst I support it, the only way it will be effective is to have a coherent enforcement strategy to back it up. I’m currently reviewing Tower Hamlet’s enforcement officers remit and protocol to ensure the PSPO isn’t just a worthless bit of paper.
What do you feel is the most important issue in Tower Hamlets today?
There’s quite a few, but the most important issue to me is child poverty. In Tower Hamlets, 47 per cent of children who live in families with 3 or more children live in poverty, compared with 34 per cent of those families with just one child. Larger families in Tower Hamlets have a higher risk of poverty than larger families nationally (47 vs. 29 per cent).
We have the highest level of child poverty than any other borough in London. It’s simply unacceptable considering the vast sums of money Tower Hamlets is generating through the new homes bonus from central government and the stockpile of Section 106.
Additionally, Tower Hamlets has the highest unemployment rate in London. There’s lots to be done!
If LBTH gave you £40k to invest in Limehouse today, what would you spend it on?
I would immediately invest in 2 PSCO’s dedicated to Limehouse. This would form part of the PSPO enforcement strategy and restore community confidence.
A resident mentioned to me only this week (November 17) that she has started hiding her phone away in case she was confronted and subsequently mugged. It’s the first time she’s ever done something like that in all the years she’s lived in Limehouse. Confidence needs to be restored immediately.
Is it better to be perfect and late or good and on time?
Thinking this question through in my professional capacity, I would say it’s better to be good and on time. It’s incredibly hard to be perfect all the time and to do so could cause unnecessary delays. Also, perfection often comes from collaboration and iterations over time. Best to start with a minimum viable product/service and keep iterating and improving.
If we needed to cut our public services budget by 10% what single service in Limehouse would you reduce?
Firstly, I would look to protect frontline services as a priority. Initiatives such as the London Borough of Culture award and other local grants I would undertake an audit and review, with the potential to press pause on them. However, I’d like to stress that I would fight tooth and nail not to accept any further reductions in the budget (that’s not already planned from the central pot). There is a huge stockpile that has yet to be committed from Section 106 and additionally Tower Hamlets is due to receipt millions in the new homes bonus over the next 5 years.
On being elected, I would review the current team/s within the council tasked with actioning CIL and Section 106 and lobby fellow Members on retrospectively applying the 25% CIL logic to Section 106. This would open up money that’s owed back to the community.
Is it more important to consolidate opinion or explain a circumstance?
This question is a little chicken and egg. By gathering thoughts, feedback and insights you can start to find compromises, supporting arguments and consolidate opinion. With that, explaining a circumstance becomes far easier, more transparent and more honest.
What is the biggest misconception about you?
Probably the biggest misconception about me, and what I often hear, is that I didn’t attend a university. For my generation and the millions of Millennials out there, getting a degree was necessary to opening doors. I certainly accept the statistics that prove you are far likely to have higher earnings over a lifetime if you do have a degree but, for me university never appealed. When I was 18 I decided to pursue practical experience over theory.
As the Head of Marketing at Three Mobile it’s been a rapid past 10 years of career progression, all achieved without having that degree stamp on my CV.
If there are only two types of people in the world, what are they are which one are you?
I’m going for; you’re either a generalist or a specialist and I’d put myself in the generalist bucket. Throughout my adult life, I’ve had to expose myself to new ideas, types of working, the public and private sector and the variation of demands roles have on me. It’s kept me agile and helped develop an ability to understand unfamiliar issues and work outside of my comfort zone.
I’ve often been referred to as a Jack of all trades, although thankfully I don’t hear the second bit to that phrase very often!