Zachary Stiling of the Heritage Party – Hustings Q&A

In May this year a council by-election was held in Kenley.  We spoke at the time to the Heritage Party candidate Zachary Stiling, and had him on our pubcast.

His responses to the prepared questions are below, and give a good insight into the candidate, and the party, ahead of next years London wide local elections.

“In 2016, the council gave £4 million to Boxpark despite local business owners’ fears it would damage their trade. Local, independent businesses play a much more important role in a community than national and transnational corporations”

What do you see as the most important priorities for the people of Kenley? And how will you help deliver on these priorities?

If I may take a minute to introduce myself and the Heritage Party, the party was founded in May 2020 by London Assembly Member David Kurten. We are a socially conservative party founded to champion civil liberties and traditional family values. On a national level, we oppose lockdowns, vaccine passports and ‘woke’ cancel culture, and promote freedom of speech, free markets and individual responsibility. I am entering politics after five years as a freelance journalist and historian, and have lived in Croydon all my life. I am a conservationist at heart, having been actively involved with the preservation of historic vehicles for several years, and I am equally passionate about preserving historic architecture and the countryside. I have developed an affection for the rich history of the borough, which I believe is to be celebrated, and am committed to seeing it prosper in the future.

I believe that the rapid construction of high-density, low-quality housing is one of the greatest threats Kenley currently faces, along with the council’s cavalier disregard for the Green Belt. Housing developments are typically constructed at the expense of green spaces, historic buildings or community venues. I will address this matter in full shortly, but suffice it to say that I am wholeheartedly committed to protecting Kenley’s countryside, historic buildings and community facilities, and I will object to all developments that do not meet the very highest standards.

Often in winter, Kenley suffers from severe flooding, a problem which, incidentally, is likely to increase with more housing, as more hard-standing will prevent water infiltrating the soil and lead to surface run-off into the valleys. Croydon Council was unable to fulfil its planned flood-prevention measures as a result of its bankruptcy in November. Now that the council has been bailed out by the government with £120 million, I will make flood prevention and infrastructure improvements in Kenley a priority.

I am also conscious that many workers in Kenley, especially small-business owners and those working in hospitality, will have suffered severe financial damage because of the lockdown. In 2016, the council gave £4 million to Boxpark despite local business owners’ fears it would damage their trade. Local, independent businesses play a much more important role in a community than national and transnational corporations, and I will see that they are prioritised for grants and loans.

“I am wholly committed to the protection of the countryside and the need for new houses to meet high standards of construction and beauty. I will not approve any development planned for a greenfield site, nor any developments that are ugly and which will have a negative impact on quality of life”

Many people in Kenley are concerned about a rise in housing developments in Kenley – How do you respond to these concerns and if elected, what would you do?

Kenley residents are quite right to be sceptical about housing developments and I share their concerns. Repeatedly over recent years, the council and developers have done great harm to communities with unsympathetic, sometimes barely habitable, housing developments, while the objections of local residents have been ignored. In Kenley’s case, new developments are almost always detrimental to the local character of the area and create longstanding damage.

In January 2020, the council approved plans for a block of nine flats on Welcomes Road, a road occupied only by one- and two-storey interwar properties, ignoring residents’ objections. Then, in May, the council’s in-house developer, Brick by Brick, unveiled plans to build a block of flats on Reedham Park Avenue which contravened the regulations outlined in the council’s own Local Plan. I am fully aware that Croydon is under a lot of pressure to supply affordable housing, but the rapid construction of cramped flats is little more than cheap tokenism, and it is especially wrong in an area like Kenley, which people enjoy for its green spaces, natural beauty and high standards of suburban architecture. In many cases, Croydon’s new housing developments are not affordable for first-time buyers anyway, and are inadequately provisioned.

I spoke today to a disabled lady in social housing who complained that her house has had a serious leak for some time, but the council showed no interest in helping her repair it because it wasn’t what they considered to be an ‘emergency’. The council lazily cited coronavirus as an excuse for not responding to her complaints and, on the occasion when someone was sent to investigate, he informed the resident that the leak was ‘not his department’. One would like to think of this as an isolated problem, but the scandal of the Regina Road flats in South Norwood tells us that it is not. This is the inevitable legacy of trying to cram as many people as possible into the tightest possible space for the cheapest possible price, and it will persist into the future unless there is immediate change to the council’s attitude to housing. Not only that, but it won’t be a problem that exclusively affects social housing tenants; Croydon Council has built very little social housing of late, preferring instead to sell land to developers for private accommodation. The principle of cramming in as many people as possible at the lowest price still applies, but, instead of being awarded to the needy, the houses are being sold for a premium.

Equally worrying is the council’s attitude towards the Green Belt, which it sees as an obstacle to yet more development. Having already sacrificed 27 acres of Green Belt land for a hideous new school building in South Croydon, the council again revealed plans to eliminate sections of Green Belt in Sanderstead, Selsdon and New Addington for 6000 houses. Thankfully, Kenley has not yet been earmarked for anything so destructive, and I will defend its open spaces tooth and nail to see that Kenley residents may always have access to nature, which is so vital for our wellbeing. I am always receptive to the views and criticisms of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who understand the importance of the Green Belt better than many councillors.

I am wholly committed to the protection of the countryside and the need for new houses to meet high standards of construction and beauty. I will not approve any development planned for a greenfield site, nor any developments that are ugly and which will have a negative impact on quality of life for Kenley residents. With Croydon’s town centre already suffering from a severe affliction of high-rises, the only new housing schemes I will support will be ‘gentle density’ ones. Brick by Brick has been an unaccountable, loss-making failure, and I will campaign for it to be scrapped. On a national level, the Heritage Party will invest in towns in the North and in the Midlands which are neglected by Westminster, thereby relieving the pressure on London for housing.

“With 16 council workers still on over £100,000 per year (compared to 10 in Sutton, nine in Merton and nine in Bromley), this is where the first cuts should be made so that civic improvements can be prioritised”

Croydon Council have stated that they face a £64.2 million gap in funding this year and that this inevitably means cuts to services; what do you consider are vital services in this community and how will you ensure that these services are retained?

The nature of Kenley, with many houses built on spacious plots with large gardens, makes the council’s garden waste collection a valuable service. Although garden waste collection already comes with a cost of £68.29 per year, and is therefore not likely to be scrapped, it ties in in an important way with fly-tipping because a lot of people decide to fly-tip because they find it preferable to paying for waste disposal. I am confident that, if the council’s finances were managed well, the cost of the service could be reduced or even assimilated into the cost of council tax.

Kenley has the good fortune of being a quiet area with a semi-rural feel in places. Sadly, the downside of this is that it is attractive to fly-tippers, who feel they can get away with dumping their waste without being seen. To this end, the council’s fly-tip reaction teams, who work with council enforcement officers to catch, fine and prosecute offenders, are a valuable part of the council’s operations. It is just a pity that in the past the council has pursued fly-tippers with more enthusiasm than honesty – several people, including a family member of mine, have been issued with fixed-penalty notices from the council, for which there is no option of appeal, because they attempted to dispose of waste at council recycling sites which were overflowing from where waste collections had been neglected.

I am interested in targeting real fly-tippers only, and I believe no fixed-penalty notices should be issued unless there is proof of an offence having been committed. I will make sure the fly-tip reaction teams operate justly and efficiently. I also believe they should have more of a presence in public so as to deter people from fly-tipping in the first place but also to catch people who drop litter, who so often evade justice. Littering is a vile habit for which there is no excuse, and a blight on many communities. Dropping litter carries a fixed-penalty fine of £150. I will strive to see that this is enforced to the fullest extent, albeit only with proof of the offence being committed.

Obviously, when fines are generated, enforcement teams will pay for themselves to some extent, but I do not believe it is prudent to rely on fines as a source of income, and that mentality is what encourages councils to set targets for revenue from fines, to be met by hook or by crook.

When a council is struggling to meet the needs of its citizens, it ought to look to itself to make cuts before it strips the public of services. With 16 council workers still on over £100,000 per year (compared to 10 in Sutton, nine in Merton and nine in Bromley), this is where the first cuts should be made so that civic improvements can be prioritised. Croydon Council could save thousands of pounds each year by not overpaying its senior staff.

“residents are aware of Kenley’s magnificent heritage. At present, Croydon Council does not seem to be very proud of the borough’s history but it is an aspect I would like to promote”

The Kenley Community Plan was successful in a bid for GLA funding to deliver projects that connect and improve Kenley. What new and existing projects do you think will connect and improve Kenley?

Dare I say that there is not much to improve? Residents of Kenley are generally very proud of their neighbourhood and the council’s attempts to interfere with it, especially where housing developers are concerned, are often very unwelcome.

However, it is clear that because Kenley is a bit out on a limb compared to other areas of Croydon, residents are too dependent on cars and would appreciate better public transport links. A lot of residents have complained of heavy traffic in the area, cars driving too fast, and lack of provision for parking, while also finding that public transport is overcrowded. I believe Croydon Council needs to work with Transport for London to discuss the provision of a more regular bus service in Kenley. There is no convenient public transport between the southern part of Kenley and central Croydon. A regular bus service from the town centre to Kenley Common would be advantageous for residents and would make Kenley a destination for walkers, who could combine a visit to Kenley Common with Coulsdon Common and Riddlesdown, and spend money in local pubs and cafés.

I would like to consult with residents about improvements to Kenley’s road layout. Speed bumps are never a clever means of slowing traffic down as they shorten the life of a car’s suspension and contribute to air pollution as they force drivers to move through the gears and rev their engines. Chicanes are a far more sensible approach and could be employed in redeveloping Kenley’s roads for the better. All this, of course, is in addition to the improvements needed to mitigate the effects of flooding, which I will resume at the nearest possible instance.

As stated already, residents are aware of Kenley’s magnificent heritage. At present, Croydon Council does not seem to be very proud of the borough’s history but it is an aspect I would like to promote. Besides being of general interest to residents, I believe promotion of Croydon’s historic buildings and institutions would encourage visitors and benefit local trade. I have been drawn to Kenley Aerodrome on a number of occasions when it has hosted events and always felt I have had a good day out. The Aerodrome’s events would, I am sure, attract many more people to Kenley if decent public transport made it more accessible.

“Young people generally should be encouraged in their hobbies, not demonised; overbearing regulations are the death of creativity in the young”

Local Youth and Children’s work providers Play Place ask ‘within the youth sector we are increasingly concerned about the lack of positive diversionary activities, poorer transport links and an amplified sense of deprivation for small communities in the south of the borough.  How might we best respond to this?’

This is a subject I feel very strongly about, as I have been trying to raise awareness locally of the problem of young people riding motorcycles around my local woodland. Let me say, so that there is no doubt, that I do not condone this activity for an instant. Riding motorcycles in a space shared by dog-walkers and young children is clearly dangerous and irresponsible and has the potential to go horribly wrong. But let us try to understand our fellow man. The young people riding these motorcycles are not wilfully trying to harm anyone, they are simply trying to indulge a hobby for which there are absolutely no proper provisions. And I will say that, as a hobby, I absolutely do condone off-road motorcycling. Through riding off-road, motorcyclists are able to learn a lot about controlling their machines, all of which serves to make them much safer riders on the road than someone who buys a motorcycle merely for ease of commuting. Plus, as enthusiasts, they are learning about engineering and mechanics and developing practical skills which are not encouraged in schools, and that helps to cultivate an ethos of individual responsibility.

Much has been said lately about the Valley Park car meets, where young car owners display their modified vehicles. Undoubtedly, there is an antisocial aspect to this when drivers rev their engines incessantly and engage in dangerous driving, but this is not justification for trying to ban the car meets entirely. With proper measures in place to ensure safe driving and peaceful behaviour, they could be a great addition to Croydon’s culture, generate visitors and improve local spending. This has been the case in the past with the Chelsea Cruise, the monthly parade of classic, custom and American cars that has been taking place on the last Saturday of the month since 1975. For a time in the early 1980s, the Greater London Council embraced the cruise because it was a popular public event and drew thousands of spectators to the King’s Road. Sadly, that has been in decline as the green agenda that has been prevailing in London for several years has been hostile to motorists irrespective of whatever historical, cultural or aesthetic contribution they may make, and the expansion of the Congestion Charge zone may sound the death knell for the Chelsea Cruise.

Sad though that would be, it is obvious that there is sufficient enthusiasm here in Croydon that we could have our own safe, well-attended Croydon Cruise. The scale of it means that it would necessarily require some policing but so long as people drive safely and do not make a public nuisance, it is something the council ought to encourage. Young people generally should be encouraged in their hobbies, not demonised; overbearing regulations are the death of creativity in the young. As it stands, the council’s current failure to provide adequate facilities for young people and the punishment of them when they try to entertain themselves has all the hallmarks of a joyless, lazy bureaucracy.

Few people today know that Croydon once hosted a motorsports venue. All that remains of the Waddon Lido is the sad ghost of a diving stage. Many south London musicians, from Jacqui McShee of Pentangle to the Damned, started their careers on Croydon’s once thriving live music scene. McShee sang at the Olive Tree folk club and the Damned famously played at the Greyhound – both are now long gone and the current scene in Croydon is unlikely to give rise to any more great musicians. The innumerable houses springing up over the borough are apparently built with the expectation that the people living within them won’t have any hobbies to pursue.

I don’t believe Kenley is the right place for heavy development, but Croydon town centre is in dire need of facilities for the young and I will use my position in the council to encourage the development of sports facilities, hospitality venues and music venues. Sports facilities may necessarily require large amounts of space and I believe the best area for development is brownfield land close to Croydon Airport. With adequate development and improved transport links to the town centre, young people in Kenley would not be deprived of amenities anymore.

More information on the Heritage Party, including its manifesto and how to get involved, can be found at https://heritageparty.org/ or email Zachary at zstiling@protonmail.com

Eric Siva-Jothy – SDP London wide GLA candidate

Eric Siva-Jothy heads up the London Assembly, London wide list for the SDP.  We have already spoken with the SDP Mayoral Candidate Steve Kelleher on our Podcast.  Eric is a student of Law & Criminology, describes himself as a small-c conservative and is the London region representative for the SDP Youth movement

Eric thanks for speaking with us.

Can you start by introducing yourself, and tell us what led to you standing for the SDP?

My name is Eric Siva-Jothy and I’ve lived in London now for a little over 4 years, I’m 24 and currently studying for an LLB in Law with a minor in Criminology at university. The main reason I put myself forward to stand for the SDP is frankly everything from the government’s handling of endless, increasingly incoherent lockdowns at the national level to the woeful handling of crime in London. Given my area of study I am particularly passionate about the latter, and some of the worrying trends I’ve been exposed to living in East London over the past few years make inaction not really an option for me anymore. That’s everything from the degree to which burglaries are never even followed up, to the open proliferation of cannabis use on the streets I’ve seen (often right in the presence of authorities themselves). It just seems police priorities are more in public virtue signalling with police Pride vans than being an active presence of law and order. Of course, with the looming unparalleled economic crash we’re in for post-lockdown, crime will only be exacerbated even further in the midst of a Met police and a Mayor that I don’t think are ready to confront it, let alone even attempting to make preparations for such a scenario.

“The Social Democratic Party is my natural political home in this regard, economic Left/social Right, which according to studies tends to actually be the average political outlook in this country”

Although we’ve spoken to a number of people from the Party, for those less familiar can you tell us about some of the SDP’s national policy’s?

I usually describe ourselves to people as ‘Blue Labour’, I myself am a former Labour Party member but I left shortly after Corbyn’s election to the leadership, although the party was already in a dire state when it came to marginalising more socially conservative voices. The Social Democratic Party is my natural political home in this regard, economic Left/social Right, which according to studies tends to actually be the average political outlook in this country. Our national policies include reshoring industry and manufacturing to the UK & adopting a state-led industrial strategy, reducing immigration, renationalising the railways, calling for a full government review into political bias at the BBC and Channel 4, tax benefits to married couples and legal protections for free speech in academia. I strongly recommend giving our document “The New Declaration” a read, that sets out our ethos and outlook broadly.

“Of course nowadays anti-police sentiment is a trendy left-wing cause we have to contend with, but the evidence shows very clearly that the active method of policing works and saves lives”

Even in lockdown we have significant street crime problems in London, we have constantly rising local taxes and contention between public and private transport.  How will the SDP tackle these issues?

Our number one priority is putting more police on the streets. For this we’ve set an ambitious target of up to ten thousand new officers to be deployed in active community patrols, using the highly successful ‘broken windows’ strategy London’s twin city New York employed to great success in the 1990s. This means directing police to be actively present and patrolling around key crime hot spots, including expanding the use of stop and search, which serves both as a strong deterrent and provides the ability to intervene quickly when crime occurs. Of course nowadays anti-police sentiment is a trendy left-wing cause we have to contend with, but the evidence shows very clearly that the active method of policing works and saves lives. We plan on funding this by cutting waste at City Hall, reviewing how the Met uses its funding and then streamlining or abolishing what is unnecessary (the epidemic of ‘tweet policing’, which i’m sure many of your readers will be aware of, comes to mind here), and using TfL’s incredibly commercially valuable landholdings to raise money for the London budget. 

In regards to transport, we will push back against ridiculous policies like ULEZ, poorly thought-out cycle lane expansions and the undemocratic imposition of LTNs that cause more problems than they solve. I am utterly dumbfounded by the choice to try and reduce automobile use and shift the burden from that onto public transport in a time when TfL is about to enter an unprecedented financial crisis. It simply wont be able to pick up the slack, especially in the coming post-lockdown economy; is now really the time to opportunistically mess around with environmentalist social engineering plans and their unforeseen consequences on those reliant on car travel? Lower-income and often older workers in the outer parts of London especially require cars to travel long distances to and from work, and they’re hit hardest by such policies. In the end expansion and investment in both TfL and automobile infrastructure, like reopening the Hammersmith Bridge and completing the Silvertown Tunnel, will combat congestion and concentrated air pollution far more than the ideology-driven penalising of London’s motorists. 

What are the SDPs others priorities for London?

Housing. Labour has repeatedly failed to live up to its housing targets and due to outdated ideas like right-to-buy we have seen a continuous decline in the public housing stock that exacerbates the crisis. Our main goal will be to reach a target of constructing 50,000 new council houses a year, using money raised from methods outlined above, combined with having tenants waive their right-to-buy on all new builds. This means we can keep housing in public ownership, and in turn there’d be a knock-on effect of reducing prices and rent in the private sector. In that vein, the SDP will introduce a points system that gives those who’ve lived longest in an area priority on the housing ladder. This is designed to help build more local communities and combat the current atomising trend of renterism dispersing families and friends all over the city. There would also be a knock-on effect on crime: closer-knit communities with more familiarity tend to have much lower crime rates. 

“I’m especially interested in preserving the historical and architectural heritage of London. If elected, I would like to advance a vision that more monuments and statues to our past be constructed around the city as part of a broader beautification project”

If elected to the Assembly what would you like to work on and achieve?

Aside from holding the Mayor to account and working with other AMs to carry out what i’ve outlined above, I’m especially interested in preserving the historical and architectural heritage of London. If elected, I would like to advance a vision that more monuments and statues to our past be constructed around the city as part of a broader beautification project, and to engage our struggling arts community post-lockdown in creating public displays celebrating and uplifting Britain instead of putting it down. Something similar to the USAs Federal Arts Project in the 1930s, which in my humble opinion would be a far better use of London’s culture budget than changing traffic lights in Trafalgar Square. I would also rigorously resist any introduction of intrusive and compulsive domestic “vaccine passports”; I consider the very fact they’re even being floated grossly sinister in its potential curtailing of civil liberties and permanently altering our way of life.

If people want to know more about the SDP and their movement how do they get in touch?

Go to our website, where you can read our policies in full as well as our statement of principles. You can contact me at eric.siva-jothy@sdp.org.uk, or our fantastic Mayoral candidate Steve Kelleher at steven.kelleher@sdp.org.uk.

Eric can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SdpEric.

Nigel Jacklin of the Democratic Network

The Democratic Network is a new registered political party with candidates standing in six counties.  They aim to:

  • Make it easier for politically neutral candidates to stand in local elections
  • Help those candidates get elected
  • Support them once elected.

Nigel Jacklin is a statistician, market researcher and recording artist. Below is an interview with Nigel, Leader of The Democratic Network and is standing in Bexhill St Marks ward.

“Our party promise is to represent local people and businesses, regardless of their political views. We will only contest local elections. No ties to Westminster parties will mean we can do the job without any political interference”

Nigel, you will be standing as a Democratic Network candidate in the East Sussex County elections.  What is The Democratic Network?

We are a new political party contesting the local elections across the UK.  I founded the party with my wife Sheila.  Our party promise is to represent local people and businesses, regardless of their political views.  We will only contest local elections.  No ties to Westminster parties will mean we can do the job without any political interference.

Why do you want to be a Councillor?

There will be opportunities and challenges over the next four years.  Helping local businesses recover from the last year will require some clear and fresh thinking in the ‘Economic Development’ department.  That’s my main skill.  Health and education will be important too.

How is the Democratic Network different to other parties or independent candidates?

Once elected our promise is to be fully representative, accountable and practical.  That’s our party promise.  We’ll work for everybody.  Our proposals include expert panels and regular dialogue with residents and businesses.  We are fairly serious, but we do know how to have fun!

“My job is to understand what people want, what will work and to help organisations make better decisions.  I’ll bring a fresh approach, balancing the need to look to the future whilst maintaining what’s precious to us”

Tell us a little about your background; what qualifies you to be a Councillor.

My wife Sheila and I moved to Normans Bay in 1992 where we raised our family.  We liked the sea, countryside and the friendly people.  By trade I am a statistician and market researcher.  I worked with Didier Truchot, founder of top market research company Ipsos, before setting up my own business here.  I’ve worked for clients like the Financial Times, the British Medical Journal, MTV and local telecare company Doro.  My job is to understand what people want, what will work and to help organisations make better decisions.  I’ll bring a fresh approach, balancing the need to look to the future whilst maintaining what’s precious to us.

Are there any local issues or organisations of particular importance to you?

We’ve helped college students with work experience and developed a guide to the World of Work with East Sussex County Council and the Financial Times.  I’m a member of the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and the De La Warr Pavilion.  I’m a Sussex representative of the British Astronomical Associations Commission for Dark Skies.  East Sussex is a beautiful place.  I want to keep it that way, whether that be by everyday beach cleaning or in other ways.

What makes you happy?

My family.  Going to the beach near our house.  Wildlife and plants growing in our garden.

How can people help or get in touch?

Anyone who wants to help, has a question or a point to make can:

DEMOCRATIC NETWORK CANDIDATES – Standing in the County Elections 6th May 2021

Angela MaryniczDevon
Nigel JacklinEast Sussex
Leah Butler-SmithEssex
Paul StevensEssex
Venetia CarpenterKent
Ewen GarrodTrafford
Jonathan LeaWest Sussex

You can also find out more from the article below:

Pubcast 15 – Zachary Stiling of the Heritage Party

Mike visits the Shirley Inn to chat with Zachary Stiling, the Heritage Party candidate in the Kenley By-Election and a GLA candidate. Zachary explains his reasons for becoming involved in politics and his vision for Croydon and London.

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Our written interview with Zackary is available at http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/zachary-stiling-heritage-party/. More information on the Heritage Party, including its manifesto and how to get involved, can be found at https://heritageparty.org/ or email Zachary at zstiling@protonmail.com

Podcast Episode 56 – Steve Kelleher: Beer Gardens, Mayoral Campaign & Croydon Council Candidates

We are joined by Steve Kelleher, the London Mayoral Candidate for the SDP, as we discuss the opening of Beer Gardens, the London and local election campaigns and the nominations in the 5 Croydon Council By-Elections. We then chat with Steve about the SDP, his Mayoral campaign and his Vision for London.

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Steve can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/stevekSDP and the SDP are online https://sdp.org.uk/

Christian Peoples Alliance – GLA Candidates

Maureen Martin and Helen Spiby-Vann, are the first and second persons nominated for the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) on the London Assembly (London-wide) list.  We have spoken with both before and today we catch-up with Maureen Martin on what the CPA’s plans are for London.

Maureen thank-you for your time.

For those who might not know the CPA can you tell us a little about the party and your main policies?

The Christian Peoples Alliance seeks to bring integrity, truth and love to the governmental arena.  We seek to demonstrate how God does politics! Our core values are promoting traditional marriage and family stability, upholding the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, caring for the poor and needy, fighting crime and supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.

“We will protect freedom of speech and stop the police investigating non-criminal ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate incidents’, so they can concentrate on real crime not thought crime. Plus no mandatory or coerced vaccination, including ‘covid passports’”

At a London level what would the CPA like to see change?

The London Assembly holds the Mayor accountable for his decisions in areas such as London transport, police and fire services, building affordable homes, protecting the environment and promoting London’s economy.

The Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) has manifesto policies which detail improvements for each area of Mayoral responsibility. This election, we would like to highlight tackling knife crime which shatters families and ruins lives. A number of city charities are already doing great work in tackling knife crime and we would enhance their reach with grants. We advocate for kinship mentors, supervised youth centres and mounted police presence. Kinship mentors because knife crime gangs often engender family-like loyalties; supervised youth centres because young men need properly supervised, safe spaces outside home to spend time with peers; mounted police presence as it’s believed that mounted police (compared with foot police) are more community friendly but deter crime.

Knife crime affects young people from broken homes disproportionately. In the long term, we need to reduce these inequalities by supporting marriages and creating stable homes so that all children can have the benefit of growing up with their mum and dad.

This brings me to our second key London wide policy. All women (and girls) deserve to be cherished for life by their peer group, siblings and partners. Sadly not all are. This year we have seen increases in domestic violence, abortion coercion, sexual harassment, rape culture in schools, objectification and human trafficking. The police emphasise consent in their training videos, but this is not enough. It gives the message that it’s ok to have sex with a female, just so long as she is 16+ and says yes.

CPA believes women and girls should be cherished for life not just objects of convenience. We believe men can be helped with self-control of libido. In addition, we will review agencies funded by the Mayor to ensure they do not promote pornography, violence or undermine the family. We need more women’s crisis centres and education that inspires boys to be faithful husbands and fathers that cherish their families

We will protect freedom of speech and stop the police investigating non-criminal ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate incidents’, so they can concentrate on real crime not thought crime. Plus no mandatory or coerced vaccination, including ‘covid passports’.

I would also like to mention our care for the poor policy. We will work in partnership with the city churches/charities to support foodbanks and address food insecurity.

We will guarantee night shelters for anyone not on drink or drugs, with a meal free of charge paid for by the Mayor of London. We don’t want anyone sleeping rough. Those with alcohol and drug problems will be given specialist help.

In terms of transport, we would make Transport for London more accountable to passengers for its spending. Fares have been going up year-on-year for decades despite TfL’s huge revenues from fares, advertising, tourism and property.

In terms of the environment, we believe the current incineration of non-mechanically-recyclable plastic is not environmentally friendly enough. We believe the Mayor should be investing in methods which make plastic recycling circular.

My current role as housing manager in London gives me first hand, daily experiences of the housing issues facing Londoners and how we can improve our systems to make things fairer and better for all.

The party isn’t running a mayoral candidate, are you recommending anyone to vote for, and if not how will you pick who to vote for?

We have been mayoral candidate watching and are on the lookout for a candidate that is able to uphold our values. Unashamedly pro family, pro-marriage and pro- life. We have been quite upfront with anyone with we have met with that they are clear about our core values in their role as Mayor for instance welcoming the annual March for Life.  We are aware however that the reality is that the race will be between Shaun Bailey and Sidiq Khan. We have recommended that our members and supporters vote for Shaun Bailey as second choice.

“supervised youth centres because young men need properly supervised, safe spaces outside home to spend time with peers; mounted police presence as it’s believed that mounted police (compared with foot police) are more community friendly but deter crime”

In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council.  What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?

Detailed above are our policies on tackling knife crime. This is our no. 1 concern this election. In terms of reinvigorating town centres and supporting local businesses, we would use the proceeds from our *Turnover Tax to immediately half business rates with a view to phasing them out completely over time, in order to create a level playing field between online and shop retail.

*Our national manifesto policy: The CPA will introduce a Turnover Tax at a rate of 5% of company turnover, payable quarterly in arrears along with VAT. The threshold will be the same as the VAT threshold, currently £85,000. This is intended to ensure that appropriate tax is collected from those multi-national companies who make their money by selling in the UK but transfer their profits overseas by way of ‘licence’ and other ‘costs’ or ‘invoice’ addresses. This will be a fairer company tax system across the board and eventually make buying online taxed at the same level as buying in shops.

How much will this raise?

The total turnover of the UK economy in 2017 was £2.62 trillion 5 — 5% of which gives £106.5bn. The Turnover Tax would be offset against Corporation tax which raised £56.1bn in 2017/18 despite the rate being cut. Small companies would be exempt and we would look to introduce other fair exemptions which would take away about £20bn. Some Corporation Tax would be more than the Turnover Tax but we estimate that would generate at least £32bn which would be spent funding the following key manifesto pledges:

  • • £15bn on reducing Commercial Rates to help our city centres
  • • £12bn on restoring the Government benefit cuts, so we can make Universal Credit work
  • • £3bn on supporting marriage and the family through our grant system 

“what is more important to me is to represent all Londoners to create a city that is prosperous, and safe.  Holding the mayor to account on the London Assembly would afford the CPA a wonderful opportunity to ensure that Christians are represented in GLA”

If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority and what would you like to achieve?

As a female, black Londoner, born and bred, I would like to offer a pro-family, pro-marriage and pro-life voice. I would raise the profile of the issues surrounding women’s inequalities and the vital importance of a biblical worldview being applied in a very practical real way to everyday life in the governmental political arena.  In this cancel culture I will be championing free speech, particularly allowing our police force to police real crime and not tweets!  I am not really about using my ethnicity to get votes what is more important to me is to represent all Londoners to create a city that is prosperous, and safe.  Holding the mayor to account on the London Assembly would afford the CPA a wonderful opportunity to ensure that Christians are represented in GLA and have a voice where it matters! 

How do people find out more and get in contact or involved?

Contact Maureen by:

Find out more about Christian Peoples Alliance Party: www.cpaparty.net and watch their campaign video:

Laurence Fox in Bromley

On Tuesday 13th April Laurence Fox, Leader of the Reclaim Party and candidate for Mayor of London was in Bromley.

Just after 11.00am Laurence’s battle bus, an open top Routemaster, took Laurence and supporters into Bromley town centre.  Laurence went to the main pedestrian shopping precinct and chatted to passers-by, whilst others gave out leaflets. 

More in the News Shopper and photos below.

Zachary Stiling – Heritage Party Candidate, Kenley and the GLA

Croydon resident Zachary Stiling is standing for the Heritage Party on the London wide list in the upcoming GLA elections.  The party is led by current GLA member David Kurten who is also running for London Mayor.  The party stands for free speech and liberty, traditional family values, national sovereignty and financial responsibility.  Zachary is also standing in the Kenley by-election for Croydon council on May 6th.  This will be the first time the party has run in a Croydon local election. 

Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to join the Heritage Party and be running for the GLA and Croydon Council?

I developed libertarian sentiments as a teenager when it became apparent to me just how far our lives are intruded upon by unnecessary bureaucratic legislation. Over the past 50 years, many aspects of life have come to be governed by an extreme safetyism, which has been eroding individual responsibility and has generally been detrimental to quality of life as a whole. I have acquired a mantra, ‘Government by education, not by force’.

At the same time, I have been conscious of the unethical practices of Silicon Valley as it exploits Third World wage slaves and Western consumers alike. The contempt with which social media regards individuality is abhorrent, and it failed in its moral responsibility to abstain from censorship during the lockdown, when society was effectively made dependent on it for conversation.

Accordingly, I don’t own a mobile phone, which is an inoffensive personal choice but the cognitive dissonance it induces sometimes is alarming. Many people cannot believe that it is possible, much less desirable, to live without frivolous technologies. This dependency will worsen as working from home becomes ‘normal’, with employers expecting employees to blend work equipment into their private spaces. The dangers of this should be obvious. Most people do not properly understand their technology, so by making themselves dependent upon it, they are inviting exploitation.

Such practices as outlined are unconventional, but I regard them as rational and virtuous. As my university effectively obligated mobile phone ownership, I am conscious of a time when my lifestyle, though harmless, will be impossible because of conditions placed upon it by government, society and their institutions, so I have always entertained entering politics in case I ever needed to defend my own existence.

“That almost everyone in government has been complicit in accepting the single greatest crime ever committed by a democratically elected government against its citizens in British history has made clear the need for a thorough overhaul of the political system”

The imposition of the lockdown in March, 2020, spurred me into action because I recognised from the start that it would be devastating and probably not even succeed in its purported intention. Historical precedents show that totalitarianism only ever creates death and misery, and a mandated orthodoxy is the antithesis of true scientific principles. Nullius in verba. That almost everyone in government has been complicit in accepting the single greatest crime ever committed by a democratically elected government against its citizens in British history has made clear the need for a thorough overhaul of the political system.

I was pleased when I discovered David Kurten had created the Heritage Party last year to oppose government overreach. I am pleased, too, that other parties have been created with similar intentions, although it is a pity we are not presently able to work alongside one another. I believe in the Heritage Party over and above the others because it has a properly developed manifesto with sound policies extending beyond the issues of freedom and censorship. Liberty is not the only component of a healthy society. Responsibility and beauty are necessary, too, and the Heritage Party understands that.

As a lifelong Croydon resident, I am pained by the decline of Croydon and London but, even so, I find much in their people and environment to cherish. With so much worth fighting for, I wish to reverse the decline and make London and Croydon places people may delight in and lead fulfilling, satisfying lives.

“Heritage Party – Free Speech and Liberty” is the party’s name on the London Ballot.  Can you tell us a bit more about the party’s policies and what you hope to do in London?

The Heritage Party offers a socially conservative voice in politics, embracing prudence, humility and wisdom. In addition to liberty, personal responsibility and traditional values, we believe in low immigration, self-sufficiency in skills, equality before the law, parliamentary reform in favour of proportional representation, civic beauty and the protection of the countryside.

On the London Assembly, three of our priorities will be policing, transport and housing. Total reform of the police is needed now it is so political. As it stands, it is not doing its job and people of all political creeds have lost faith in it. We want more police on the streets, where they should be able to engage with the public in a friendly manner, for the prevention of serious crime, but we will not allow them to harass citizens for exercising their natural rights to freedom of speech, association and movement within the public realm. We will reverse the upside-down approach to policing displayed at protests throughout the last year. Police will not be allowed to interfere with the public’s right to protest, but we will not let them capitulate to rioters who engage in violence and destruction.

“We oppose Sadiq Khan’s profiteering war on the motorist, which includes the expansion of the ULEZ, a permanent congestion charge, the Greater London boundary charge and congestion-causing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. We support London’s cabmen and will increase the cab license to 20 years”

The retraction of cash payment on buses and the London Underground erased a fundamental choice, so one of the Heritage Party’s first actions will be to restore cash payment across London’s transport. We oppose Sadiq Khan’s profiteering war on the motorist, which includes the expansion of the ULEZ, a permanent congestion charge, the Greater London boundary charge and congestion-causing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. We support London’s cabmen and will increase the cab license to 20 years, bring back a Euro 6 diesel option for new taxis and enforce the Uber court ruling. Uber shows contempt for its workers by refusing to pay them minimum wage. The fact that it operates by flooding the streets with taxis which are mostly unoccupied and is thereby probably London’s worst culprit for congestion and air pollution seems to have escaped Sadiq Khan.

Irresponsibly, almost every contender for the London Assembly promises more houses. The Heritage Party recognises the need for affordable homes for Londoners, but it also recognises the need for sensitive development. The policy of building more and more homes is unsustainable, and due in large part to uncontrolled mass immigration which the Heritage Party opposes. Writing in England and the Octopus in the 1920s, Clough Williams-Ellis raised awareness of the damage that was being wrought upon English countryside and culture by rampant development. That we have had a century to address the issue and have only succeeded in escalating the problem is disgraceful. London has no moral obligation to accommodate all who wish to immigrate here and it is not the better for housing them at the expense of its countryside and green spaces. Where development occurs, it must occur on brownfield sites and houses must meet certain quality standards. Many new developments are of appalling quality; fittings are cheaply made and have a short lifespan, the wider community is bereft of important social facilities, and there is no architectural style: it is purely generic. The blandness or outright ugliness of much modern architecture is dispiriting and demoralising, and a blight on the landscape for decades after is construction. Beauty is uplifting, and the Heritage Party will ensure that future development equals or improves upon the prevailing aesthetic of its environs.

In curating London’s streetscape, we oppose the philistinism of Mayor Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which is culturally destructive and undermines important values. While not every statue is a public asset, those targeted by the commission are among the best for visual beauty, historical importance and promoting achievement and moral virtue. An advanced city respects its past, embraces historical truths as foundations for learning and improvement, and appreciates that the benefits of modern life were arrived at through the toil of its past citizens.

In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council.  What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?

Knife crime is a complicated issue but, with nuance, we can see that a combination of parental, social and cultural influences steers people towards crime. It is imperative that we understand these root causes, and respond appropriately, if we are to address knife crime in the long-term. The political faction that insists the police is institutionally racist and effectively absolves the criminals of responsibility for their misdeeds is a regressive hindrance. Police visits to schools, for the purpose of engagement rather than intimidation, could do a lot to keep children on the right track and identify signs of anti-social behaviour before they go too far, and the council must provide effective social services for children who experience harm or neglect in the home.

One of the biggest problems for young people is the lack of leisure facilities, the provision of which would help them find a purpose and appreciation for life. As a case in point, youths have been riding off-road motorcycles in my local woods. That is anti-social and thoughtless, yet there is nothing of malice in it. Those young motorcyclists have enthusiasm for a very good hobby. Off-road motorcycling helps develop safe and skilful riding, and it encourages an interest in engineering; in competition, like all sports, it helps participants cultivate a sense of fair play. It is precisely what ought to be encouraged in young people, and yet they have nowhere to pursue their hobby. Few people know that Croydon once hosted a motor-racing course. It had dance halls, cinemas and live music venues, now almost all gone. It is developments such as these that Croydon Council should encourage. There is this rather tragic attitude that young people should be ignored and left to entertain themselves with the internet, so it’s scarcely surprising that so many drift wayward for want of a place in the world.

This ties in with the decline of the town centre, with investors understandably lacking confidence in a town with a high crime rate. Boxpark is supposed to be an exciting new development, but I expect its novelty will wear off when people realise they’re paying through their nose just to eat in a pile of shipping containers. The recovery can probably only be long and slow, but if it is to happen at all we must first release the shackles of lockdown and Mayor Khan’s anti-motorist schemes. When town centres are struggling, it is lunacy to impose a Greater London boundary charge on motorists which will deter people from visiting or working in Croydon, and the north of the borough is already suffering thanks to LTNs, which make towns even less accessible to motorists. I am conscious of the need to reduce traffic in some areas, but indiscriminately punishing motorists is not the right way about it.

As we emerge from the lockdown, it is imperative we help local businesses get back on their feet. Croydon’s historic pubs are one of its greatest assets and we must protect them at all costs. The council should offer assistance where necessary and stand up to unscrupulous developers. Westminster Council has set a fantastic precedent in ordering the developers who illegally demolished the Carlton Tavern to rebuild it to its original appearance, and Croydon should follow suit. I extend my congratulations to Croydon North MP Steve Reed, who has already used that precedent against developers who demolished a 1920s bungalow in Upper Norwood; the demolition was illegal, even though the council had inexcusably granted permission for the developers to build flats there. Croydon does not need vast commercial developments like the stalled Westfield centre, it needs to encourage small business owners and local entrepreneurs.

The council’s bankruptcy was the consequence of longstanding ineptitude and financial mismanagement, which is impressive considering the depths to which it was prepared to stoop to generate revenue. My father was one of many people issued with a fixed-penalty notice for disposing of waste at a council recycling site. The cardboard he was disposing of ultimately did not remain in the bin because it was overflowing, and he subsequently received a fine he was unable to appeal. I am not sure whether that or Brick by Brick, the council’s in-house building firm, should be regarded as its biggest disgrace. Also predisposed towards architectural blight, Brick by Brick has been a byword for failure, constructing housing that has frequently transpired to be uninhabitable with the result that it has been a loss-making object of universal ridicule. It needs to be put out of its misery. The real losers, though, are not the councillors who have resigned but the residents of Croydon who face cuts to their services, including the loss of libraries.

“It is my hope that I should be able to help London, Croydon, and Kenley be safe, beautiful places with thriving economies and strong cultural worth, as success stories for freedom and limited governance”

If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority or on Croydon Council and what would you like to achieve?

If elected, I should like to use my position to work with local communities to deliver the best solutions for their respective concerns. It is presently the case that local authorities are too subservient to central government and are frequently required to waste time and funds performing arbitrary tasks that do their areas no good at all, so I will do everything I can to see that local interests are represented.

I would work to promote London as a centre for culture and learning with my support for the arts sector. I will do everything I can to help it recover from the damage of the lockdown and suffocating need to conform with the demands of the identity-politics lobby, so that it can truly proclaim itself the home of world-leading museums, galleries and theatres.

I would be interested in working with the Create Streets think-tank to deliver sensitive development, and I should be very glad to co-operate with charities such as the Georgian Society, Victorian Society and Campaign to Protect Rural England, all of which undertake vital work in protecting and preserving our history and the quality of our environment.

It is my hope that I should be able to help London, Croydon, and Kenley be safe, beautiful places with thriving economies and strong cultural worth, as success stories for freedom and limited governance.

How do people find out more and get in contact?

More information on the Heritage Party, including its manifesto and how to get involved, can be found at https://heritageparty.org/ or email Zachary at zstiling@protonmail.com

You can find out more about David Kurten in our Podcast and Interview with him as well as our other events he’s spoken at.

Christopher Wilkinson – Independent Libertarian

Christopher Wilkinson is an independent libertarian-minded candidate proposing to stand for the Lichfield City North division in the 2021 Staffordshire County Council election and the Stowe ward by-election for Lichfield City Council.  Chris also runs a group called the Independent Libertarians and has a podcast, the Libertarian Listener, which both Mike and Dan have appeared on.  We spoke with Chris on our Podcast back in October and have caught up with him on his upcoming campaigns.

“Perhaps worst of all has been this focus on the ‘common good’ – the rotten, Soviet-style idea that we’ve all got the same interests, same needs, and same ambitions as everyone else and that we’re willing to sacrifice our own job, income, business, mental health and physical wellbeing for the sake of the lowest common denominator in the community. Nothing could be further from the truth”

Chris you’ve run before and are taking part in two election campaigns in May. What’s prompted you to take on these challenges and what are the differences between the two races?

These elections are especially important since they’re the first since COVID-19, and they look set to be a virtual referendum on how the main parties have responded to the issue. Over the past year we’ve seen our civil liberties and freedom severely restricted, the economic strength of the nation destroyed, and reactionary government policies encroaching into every aspect of our daily lives – unprecedented and immoral, especially for peacetime. Perhaps worst of all has been this focus on the ‘common good’ – the rotten, Soviet-style idea that we’ve all got the same interests, same needs, and same ambitions as everyone else and that we’re willing to sacrifice our own job, income, business, mental health and physical wellbeing for the sake of the lowest common denominator in the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. That philosophy is so against the grain of human progress, prosperity and self-fulfilment that it has never worked in any historical example, and my attempt in this election will be to attempt to drag politics back to reality. As there are very few people in the area willing to stand for office, the onus is upon those with a passion to provide change to make it happen hence why I’m standing in both elections. The main difference will be the area covered; the City by-election is being run in my own ward of Stowe, and the County election covers Stowe with two adjacent wards; Chadsmead and Curborough. One benefit of this approach is that a wider number of people get to hear a pro-liberty message, which may in turn inspire them to get more involved in local politics and help fight for local people in future elections. There will be other differences, particularly with the scale of the issues varying between local and regional level, and the amount of walking involved when delivering the leaflets!

Stowe is currently represented by Labour and Conservative in a Conservative city.  How do you think they will be better represented by an independent and what do you think are the big issues in Stowe?

I think people are rightly put off by party politics after what they’ve seen over the last twelve months, and so standing as an independent that can put local people’s interests first and assess local issues objectively instead of focusing on party ideology and dogma would make for a far better representative in any area. Political events over the past five years have been very polarising and the key advantage of being an independent candidate is that I’m able to find common ground between people who would otherwise stand apart. In the Stowe area, the most major concerns among residents are the transition back to normality and restarting the economy. The city’s age demographic is slanted more towards the older generations who rightly have concerns over feeling safe going outside again and being in busy areas. I want them to enjoy their lives as best as possible, so it’s critical that elected representatives give truthful information regarding COVID-19 instead of merely relaying the government’s fearmongering and skewed macro-level statistics. Lichfield also has a highly skilled managerial workforce and as such has generally lower-than-average levels of unemployment coupled with a city centre in economic decline – to see unemployment levels rise and businesses in the city centre shut their doors for the final time, especially pubs and ‘non-essential’ shops, therefore represents a significant worry for both residents and visitors. I’ve been speaking with several local businesses and organisations as to how we can bring more people into the city centre and my manifesto will reflect the consultation I’ve had.

“However, demolition work on the proposed site had already begun – a few businesses, including a profitable Ford car dealership, were consequently evicted. The site today is a wasteland obscured by hoardings covered in local government advertising for the city”

Following the failure of Friarsgate, the city now has a ‘Masterplan’.  What are your thoughts on what went wrong with Friarsgate and what do you think of the new plan?

Friarsgate was a £54 million shopping development first proposed by the Conservatives in the 1999 local elections that was still in development nearly twenty years later. To put the scale of finance in context, it would have been the equivalent of five years of budget spending by Lichfield District Council in today’s terms. The scheme couldn’t attractive private finance and the council, quite rightly, were not willing to meet the extra cost on behalf of taxpayers. However, demolition work on the proposed site had already begun – a few businesses, including a profitable Ford car dealership, were consequently evicted. The site today is a wasteland obscured by hoardings covered in local government advertising for the city which cost more than £20,000 at the taxpayer’s expense. It went wrong both at a council level and in terms of the economy generally. Referring to the phased strategy and planning permission needed for the Lichfield Masterplan, District Councillor Little was reported in a Lichfield Live article on 7 October 2020 as saying ‘…we need the support from commercial and legal experts to aid us in that process as we haven’t got that expertise within the council to ensure proper governance’ – an admission, if ever one was becoming of the council, that incompetence within the local authority was partly to blame for the downfall of Friarsgate. The truth is there’s very little demand for large commercial infrastructure, especially in a city such as Lichfield, and that restrictions within the COVID-ravaged economy will come to haunt such developments for years to come. The retail sector has been in structural decline for a long time not least due to the growth of online shopping and increasing business rates levied by councils all over the country. The design of Friarsgate was very metropolitan and certainly wouldn’t have suited the quaint character of a cathedral city such as Lichfield. From my research speaking to business owners in the city centre, the main draw factor to Lichfield appears to be its picturesque setting, traditional architecture and unique old-world shopping experience. The council’s economic policies should be reorientated more towards preserving and enhancing Lichfield’s history and heritage as opposed to trying to turn the city into replicas of nearby places such as Tamworth or Burntwood. Lots of smaller niche shops would be more advantageous for local people and visitors than a sprawl of chain stores; Fine & Vintage, a small independent retailer, is an excellent example of what I think Lichfield ought to aim for. At present, the Masterplan does not encapsulate all these crucial factors that will make the difference between the proposal being a success or failure, and so reform and review – not speed and spending – would be the most appropriate way to go about this project.

“Currently there are plans for housing developments at Nether Stowe and Leyfields on urban green space plus the construction of a filter lane cutting through part of the Festival Gardens – I strongly oppose all these projects and will do my best if elected to bring about more suitable alternatives”

With plans for over 4,000 houses for the city and calls for a gender-neutral term to replace chairman, what are the other big issues in the city?

Lichfield was once a semi-rural small historical city with many people saying they’ve moved to live here for its quiet, idyllic setting. The growth in housing in the area over recent years has been unacceptable and has eroded that traditional image of the city. It’s also important to bear in mind why the growth of housing has occurred. The council has adopted a Local Plan and numerous neighbourhood plans to improve certain aspects of the city that are being rolled out over many years. Overlaying that are the central government’s own house building plans. The issue here in Lichfield, however, is that the supply of housing is already above trend as was revealed by District Councillor Tax last October. The government must reconsider its housing targets for this area as central planning does not consider our specific requirements and, if elected, this is something I will pursue with determination. An oversupply of housing is never desirable since bricks and mortar have been a key driver of the British economy over the past twenty years – if that hidden wealth falls due to a lack of demand, we’ll all be paying an extra price in either higher taxes or lower public spending as councils and the government try to stabilise their budgets. Eerily, a similar phenomenon has already occurred with industrial space located south of Lichfield Trent Valley Railway station and the recently constructed Imperial Retail Park took two full years to reach full occupancy. Financial and material resources would be more effective elsewhere at this time. In terms of gender-neutral language, my preference is very clear – if I wished to be referred to as ‘chairman’ or ‘chairwoman’ or ‘chairperson’, I’d hope to be referred to as chairman, chairwoman or chairperson respectively. It’s a matter of personal preference that certainly shouldn’t be enforced to delegitimise natural gender values. There is nothing wrong with being a man or a woman, and our language should reflect that by reinforcing who we are as individuals. It’s hardly a headline issue, and there are bigger fish to fry what with the state of our potholed roads, cracked pavements and empty grit bins! Above all, the issue of the environment is very high on the agenda. Currently there are plans for housing developments at Nether Stowe and Leyfields on urban green space plus the construction of a filter lane cutting through part of the Festival Gardens – I strongly oppose all these projects and will do my best if elected to bring about more suitable alternatives.

You are also planning to run in the Lichfield City North division for Staffordshire County Council. Tell us about the area and what you hope to do for it. What would you like to see change at the council?

I believe in representative local democracy. As such, I hope to act on the priorities of local people as expressed through the survey I’ve issued to them which will be used to create a manifesto that truly represents the people whilst forging consensus on which we can build for the future. We’ve got to meet the challenges posed by remote working, education beyond the classroom and healthcare beyond the hospitals. I also aim to be a pro-business representative. One key consideration is a proposal to extend the Cross-City railway line towards Derby to alleviate road traffic on the A38, increase visitors and tourists from the East Midlands, and to make work at Fradley Park more accessible for those who don’t own a car. More can be done in terms of technical support to make the most of the shift from the physical to the digital economy by assisting small independent businesses to sell their products online, plus helping promote our unique Cathedral. Future housing developments must include supporting infrastructure such as shops, gyms, parks and public services to encourage the growth of the community and foster social cohesion. We’ve got the adapt quickly to the new needs of the economy by installing fast broadband in offices and cafes, adopting a more flexible approach to Business Improvement District investment that ensures no business becomes burdened with charges beyond its means, and keeping business rates and parking charges low to facilitate higher footfall. There must be an attitudinal change at the County council level about how to conduct local government – there are consultations being run with the same low response rates time after time, a lack of accessible representation and too much authority being held at the top instead of being devolved to local councils. Councillors must realise that there is no one single way of accomplishing something; what’s good for one area may not necessarily be good for another. I think there has to be a greater consideration for the externalities of decision-making particularly regarding the difference between policy on paper and policy in action; the notion that the ends do not justify the means. To use the local housing developments as an example, it might be desirable for those moving in having a home of their own and the boost to the local economy arising from that, but those who already live there are losing green space where their children may play, the local roads will be more congested and dangerous as a result of more vehicles lining the streets, and air and noise pollution will be worse.

“a redefinition of the relationship between state and citizen because, as we’ve seen in the past year, the state has assumed the position of the master and the citizen has become its servant”

As we move out of the lockdown, what would you like to see done on the road to recovery both locally and nationally?

I’d like to see a redefinition of the relationship between state and citizen because, as we’ve seen in the past year, the state has assumed the position of the master and the citizen has become its servant. Now we’re hopefully coming out of one of the worst periods in modern socioeconomic history, I’d like to see a fundamental challenge to the traditional authoritarian approach of statist government in favour of a libertarian approach that values the freedom, autonomy and natural rights of the individual with an emphasis on sovereignty, personal choice, free speech and expression, family values and the rule of law. I believe this a philosophy that can be expanded at both a local and national level, and I will work with unremitting energy – whether holding public office or not – to see it come to fruition.

If people would like to know more or get involved, how do they get in touch?

I can be contacted at christopherjwilkinson@protonmail.com, through my website at www.christopherjwilkinson.com, or by social media at www.facebook.com/christopherwilkinsonindependent.

Podcast Episode 55 – Passports to Freedom, London Mayoral, Assembly & Croydon By-Elections

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We discuss the relaxing of lockdown restrictions and the possibility of Covid Passports. We then chat about the recently announced London Mayoral & GLA nominations and the 5 upcoming Croydon Council By-Elections.

London Elections:

Information on the Croydon Council by-elections can be found at https://www.croydon.gov.uk/council-and-elections/voting-and-elections/council-elections-6-may-2021