This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 08/05/2017.
These are the candidates standing across Croydon in the General Election
Croydon will see one of the most fiercely fought election battles in the country, with the Croydon Central seat – which Conservative Gavin Barwell won with a majority of just 165 votes in 2015 – the fourth tightest seat in the country.
Elsewhere, Steve Reed will look to defend his safe Labour seat in Croydon North, while Conservative Chris Philp will be looking to do the same in Croydon South.
Meet all the candidates confirmed so far below. The full list of candidates is expected to be released by Croydon Council on May 11, after nominations close.
Peter Underwood – Green Party
He said: “I’ve lived in Croydon for over 15 years. I’ve seen how we’ve been treated by local politicians and I honestly believe that Croydon deserves better.
“The people of Croydon North deserve an MP who will always work in their best interests, providing a proper opposition to damaging government ideas and fighting for a better world for all of us.”
John Pindar – Liberal Democrats
He said: “I recognise that many people in Croydon North voted to stay in the EU in last year’s referendum and their voices need to be heard. Many did not vote for a hard Brexit or the incompetence we have right now. I feel the rise of Donald Trump has added to a toxic backdrop in world politics.
“This election will be about Brexit, but it is also about getting good MPs to support and represent you. We need people working with the community. I will be a local MP for local people, making sure you have an effective voice in Parliament.”
Michael Swadling – Ukip
A Crystal Palace fan and lifelong local resident, he says he is “passionate about delivering for the people of the borough”.
In a statement, Mr Swadling said “We have a Westminster full of career politicians more interested in the next headline than doing what’s right for Croydon or Britain. Ukip isn’t afraid to tackle issues that matter and go against the LibLabCon consensus.”
Samuel Kasumu – Conservative
Social entrepreneur Samuel Kasumu has been announced as the Tory candidate for Croydon North, and with the party doing well in the polls, he will be looking to make a dent in Steve Reed’s large Labour majority.
Mr Kasumu says he has always been passionate about social mobility, and as well as founding the charity Elevation Networks, which helps tackle racial and gender inequality in the workplace, he started up Inclusive Boards, an agency designed to support the third and public sector to hire more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people at board level.
He said: “It’s a great honour to have been selected to be the Conservative candidate for Croydon North. For far too long the Labour Party has taken this community for granted, with the member of Parliament and councillors neglecting their most basic of needs.
“The residents in the north of the borough deserve better than that, they deserve a change, that’s why if elected my priorities will be to focus on delivering more affordable housing, improving education outcomes for our children, helping local businesses to thrive and work to bring an end to knife crime in our communities.”
Steve Reed – Labour
Mr Reed was first elected in a by-election after the death of Malcolm Wicks and was confirmed as standing last month.
Labour seem to be trying to make the future of Croydon University Hospital central to their campaign, claiming that under a Conservative government the hospital’s future would be under threat due to funding cuts, something the NHS and the Tories deny.
Mr Reed, who resigned his shadow ministerial position last summer, has urged voters to vote for the Labour Party, rather than its leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He said: “We’ve had popular leaders, and unpopular leaders too – and the party endures. I hope that people will continue to put their faith in Labour. I resigned my frontbench position, yes, but that was over the handling of Brexit, and that’s done now.
“At the end of the day people vote for me, I’m the local representative and I’ve dealt with over 30,000 issues for the people of Croydon North.”
Tracey Hague – Green Party
“Croydon born and bred” Tracey Hague lives with her partner and two sons in Addiscombe. She is a founder member of the Friends of Addiscombe Railway Park, involved with the Scout Association and is a project manager in the energy and buildings sector.
She campaigned against the construction of an incinerator in Beddington and stood as the Green Party’s candidate for Croydon and Sutton in the 2016 London Assembly elections.
She said: “People are crying out for a new kind of politics. Everyone is fed up of the country being run for the benefit of bankers, media moguls and property developers.
“Only the Green Party is working for the benefit of everyone: tackling inequality, filthy air, a struggling transport network and a broken housing system.”
Gill Hickson – Liberal Democrats
She describes herself as a “passionate Remainer” who is “very disappointed” at the result of the “reckless” EU referendum.
“There is now a worry of the impact on local jobs and businesses and the threat to local services as Government cuts impact on the NHS, schools and police numbers,” she said.
“If EU workers residency isn’t secured this will also have a dramatic affect on the NHS and other essential services.
“I’m passionate about Croydon and feel blessed to live in such a lively, diverse town. I would love the opportunity to represent the interests of all Croydon Central’s residents and businesses. I want to help everyone who lives and works here feel part of the Croydon community.”
Peter Staveley – Ukip
Mr Staveley describes himself as a “strong believer in truly local democracy”.
He said: “This election is an opportunity for us to gain ground on our key priorities for Croydon. UKIP believes in getting great grammar and technical schools in our communities, and stopping waste in council spending where they have just raised council tax by 4.9 per cent. This campaign will bring these issues that matter to people in Croydon to the forefront.”
Gavin Barwell – Conservative
Incumbent Gavin Barwell was confirmed as the party’s candidate shortly after Theresa May announced the surprise election. Mr Barwell, who holds a narrow 165-vote majority, says he does not feel intimidated by Labour’s efforts to take his seat, with Jeremy Corbyn launching the party’s campaign in the town centre. Rather, he says the more Mr Corbyn is in the borough “the happier I’ll be”.
Though he campaigned for Remain, he now argues a strong Tory vote will help in the Brexit negotiations.
He said: “These re-negotiations are absolutely critical for our country’s future so clearly we want to secure the status of EU citizens that are living here, we want to ensure that we get a fair deal with our European friends – which would be great news for businesses in Croydon.”
Sarah Jones – Labour
Mrs Jones lost by the narrowest of margins at the last general election, and has been chosen as Labour’s candidate again for a rerun of the contest that saw her come up short by just 165 votes in 2015.
When her candidacy was confirmed last week, she immediately put the focus on Tory plans to shake up schools funding.
“If elected, I will fight cuts to local services, not least the growing scandal of cuts to our schools,” she said.
“The Conservatives have betrayed our young people – they claim to be increasing the overall pot of schools funding but, in reality, funding will not keep pace with rising pupil numbers or inflation.”
Catherine Shelley – Green Party
Ordained minister Catherine Shelley is the Green Party pick for Croydon South. She has been a councillor in Brighton for four years and works as an education lawyer.
She works with community groups, including churches and schools, to develop their buildings and resources for greater community use.
She said: “Recent governments have not delivered a society that works for everyone; we need a fresh vision.
“I believe that vision, backed by serious policies, comes from the Green Party. I have served as a councillor in Brighton, I am a part-time Church of England minister and I work as a charity lawyer. I believe I can match vision with action.”
Anna Jones – Liberal Democrats
The HR director of a travel company, Anna Jones was elected to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council for the Lib Dems, though stood down after she moved to Kenley in 2013.
While on the council she was a member of the planning committee, where she says she pushed for developers to make bigger financial contributions towards social housing.
“Working with all parties, my collaborative and assertive approach meant that even though in opposition, me and my colleagues were able to put Liberal Democrat ideas into action,” she said.
“In my spare time, I enjoy gardening and listening to records from my collection – my first Saturday job was on the record bar at Woolies and the love of vinyl hasn’t gone away.”
Kathleen Garner – Ukip
Kathleen Garner is again standing for the Croydon South seat she contested in 2015 and 2001. In the last election, the Ukip candidate got 6,068 votes – just over 10 per cent of those cast.
She has been campaigning against the European Union since its days as the European Economic Community, before Britain became a member.
“I am delighted we are now leaving the EU, but only with a strong vote for UKIP can we hold the government to account and ensure there is no backsliding,” she said.
Jennifer Brathwaite – Labour
Lambeth councillor Jennifer Brathwaite has been confirmed as the party’s candidate tasked with taking on Chris Philp’s circa 17,000 majority.
She is Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for housing and the environment, representing the Gipsy Hill ward bordering Croydon, and works as a solicitor.
Chris Philp – Conservative
Mr Philp will seek re-election after he won a large majority to be Croydon South’s MP in 2015, replacing the retiring Sir Richard Ottaway.
The self-made millionaire, who stepped aside from his property firm when he was elected, says he has successfully campaigned against the construction of a “skyscraper” in Purley and has rubbished Labour claims that the future of Croydon University Hospital is threatened under a Conservative government.
He said: “Why would the NHS be spending over £20 million on a new A&E, which is currently under construction, if it was at any risk of closure?
“NHS spending is now at a record level, and set to increase further. There are now over 10,000 more doctors and 11,000 more nurses in the NHS than there were under Labour and the NHS is doing more than one million more operations per year.”