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Hackney politician aims to become Labour Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central

PUBLISHED: 14:46 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:49 05 April 2013

Cllr Patrick Vernon

Cllr Patrick Vernon

The Afiya Trust

Cllr Patrick Vernon is the first person to throw his hat into the ring

A health campaigner and councillor has become the first person to announce he hopes to be selected as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central.

Cllr Patrick Vernon OBE has revealed he has thrown his hat into the ring to be picked for the much sought after constituency.

A Labour councillor in Hackney, Cllr Vernon has been working with communities in the borough for the last 13 years and is currently on the panel of Fair Share, a Big Lottery Fund programme that redistributes lottery money into areas of high deprivation including the Church End and Roundwood wards in Harlesden.

In an exclusive interview with the Times, the married father-of-one, said: “I was approached by a Labour Party member because I know Brent so well through all my work with the health service.

“I have worked closely with the communities in Brent and I have a good working relationship with the council.

“With all my experience I can understand what Brent needs. I have a good track record.”

The 51-year-old, who lives in Hackney but is originally from Wolverhampton, has previously held posts as the director of the Brent Health Action Zone, which was part of NHS Brent (Primary Care Trust) and chief executive of the North West London Community Foundation (now merged with the London Community Foundation).

In 2010, a community space in Chalkhill Community Centre in Wembley, was named ‘Vernon Hall’ in recognition of his achievements and in June last year he was award an OBE for his health work in the Queen’s Birthdays Honours list.

He said: “People in Brent are looking for someone who will put their head above the parapet for them and I will do that as I have the passion, interest and perspective.”

Brent Central has been earmarked as a key set for the Labour Party after Sarah Teather overturned a notional majority of 7,000 to snatch the seat for the Liberal Democrats from Dawn Butler with an 11 per cent swing.

Ms Teather, a former children’s Minister, had previously held the Brent East seat and Ms Butler had held the Labour-stronghold seat of Brent South.

But boundary changes brought in for the 2010 General Election resulted in the new constituency of Brent Central being formed from a large section of both Brent East and Brent South.

Ms Butler, a former GMB worker, was embroiled in the MPs expenses scandal in 2009.

The 43-year-old came under fire when a leaked Whitehall dossier revealed that she had overclaimed more than £2,600 in rent expenses and installed a whirlpool bath in her second home.

Her primary home in Stratford, east London, was found to be the same distance from Parliament as her second home in Wembley.

Ms Teather, who lives in Willesden, did not claim for a second home despite being entitled to.

Cllr Vernon said: “I think Labour needs a fresh start in Brent and I can offer that.

“I have to convince the Labour Party I am the one for them and then I have to convince residents I am the one for them.

“I have to be transparent about everything including my expenses and I need people to know I will listen to them.

“Dawn did a lot of good work and we must recognise her contributions over the years but we need a fresh start.”

The selection process is expected to take place later this year and other names speculated to join the race include Dawn Butler, Stonebridge councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, Welsh Harp councillor Roxanne Mashari, Tower Hamlets-based activist Amina Ali and two council leaders Brent’s Cllr Muhammed Butt and Cllr Catherine West from Islington.

“We have to bear in mind that this is a key seat for Labour and I don’t have a problem with who I am up against,” Cllr Vernon said.

“I have to believe in what I can offer. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

“Whoever is picked will get my full support.”