As a group that came together to fight a referendum on membership of the EU, we thought we would ask you, what your views are on Net Zero, a possible Referendum, and more generally the environment.
Part 5 in our series of your views. More responses can be found from Part 1.
Thanks to Zack Stiling, and Roald Ribe for their responses.
Zachary Stiling was the Heritage Party candidate in Kenley in the 2021 by-election, and was on the party’s GLA list the same year. Zachary has been interviewed by us and on our Pubcast.
Is global warming a threat?
No. Glacial and interglacial periods occur naturally across thousands of years and, since we made it through the ice age with little more than basic hand tools, fire and animal skins, we should be quite well equipped to cope with a projected rise of 1.5 degrees centigrade thanks to several millennia of scientific and technological progress. Even if global warming was a threat, it would be arrogant and foolish to suppose that we could arrest a natural and inevitable greenhouse period simply by coercing the public to adopt a lifestyle which blends medieval feudalism with an enforced dependence on smart technology. Presumably, some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts such as Barack Obama and Bill Gates are secretly of the same mind, or they would not both have bought coastal properties within the past year.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
No. Few members of the public have a detailed knowledge of climate and there is a danger that the government could increase its fear-mongering to manipulate voters, as the Remain side tried to do with the E.U. referendum. In the event of the government winning such a referendum, it would have a moral imperative of sorts to accelerate its Net Zero authoritarianism.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
The most important environmental action we should be taking is the protection and restoration of our countryside. Other than the fact that the countryside is an invaluable public asset, access to which is a lifeline for many people living in crowded urban areas, the destruction of it leads to phenomena which are immediately attributed to climate change. Before we get carried away with climate, a more immediate cause for loss of biodiversity is habitat destruction; a more immediate cause for flooding is the paving over of green land with impervious materials, which causes excessive surface run-off. We should also make an effort to reduce waste – so much plastic is unnecessary. As far as the climate goes, we should be making use of human ingenuity to adapt, not resorting to fear and authoritarianism in an attempt to control the uncontrollable.
Within the current range of claims made, it is my understanding that no existential threat exists. If the sun were to expand, as it will at some point, that warming would be a threat.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
I am against letting any dictator, proletariat, group or majority control and run the lives of each individual. A referendum will not help much given the sense of doom and panic transferred into the population by bias and propaganda.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
The state or collective “we” should not do anything related to hypotheses about the planet’s climate. The “we” of rational individuals should work for more individual freedom, which is the only action that will unleash the creativity and the economic environment needed to enable all to have enough surplus in their life to care about the environment they live in.
This is the fifth set of your responses, further responses can be found from Part 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We caught-up with David about the upcoming campaign. David thank-you for your time.
David you’re well known to us and regular followers, but for those less familiar can you introduce the Heritage party and yourself to our readers.
I got actively involved in politics in 2012, because I was concerned about the direction the EU was going in, as well as the rise of political correctness which has become increasingly suffocating over the last decade. More recently, I founded the Heritage Party and launched it last September.
The Heritage Party is a socially conservative party, which is what I believe the country needs right now. We are founded on traditional principles that are things that almost everyone considered to be simple common sense 30 or 40 years ago: pride in our nation, traditional family values, free speech and liberty, low immigration balanced with self-sufficiency in skills, equality before the law and financial responsibility in government.
You were a member of the GLA for 5 years, what was it like working in City Hall?
Working in City Hall was like a mixture of walking through a swamp and going into a bear pit every day. Almost all the other Assembly Members were fully signed up to the agenda of ‘woke’ ideology and climate alarmism. I am glad I had the opportunity to question Sadiq Khan on his statements and policies and draw attention to how ridiculous they were. However, towards the end, I was increasingly silenced and censored particularly when I asked about grooming gangs, gender ideology and the safety of experimental mRNA injections, which the other parties and mainstream media call ‘vaccines’.
You lived in constituency for 5 years, what are the big issues and opportunities you see in the area?
Old Bexley and Sidcup is a constituency that largely voted for Brexit. People here voted for Boris to ‘Get Brexit Done’ and because they believed he would provide conservative government. Instead, he has made a hash of Brexit and we have a red/green administration masquerading as conservative. They are fake-Conservatives and people are upset and angry about how this regime is destroying the nation.
They have introduced lockdowns which destroyed businesses and children’s education, they are threatening vaccine passports and bringing in ’no jab no jab’ policies for care home workers and NHS staff, which is going to further damage healthcare, and to top it off he is ploughing on with ridiculous ‘green’ policies. People do not want to have to get rid of their perfectly good cars and buy electric cars or rip out their gas boilers and replace them with inferior heat pumps.
The Heritage Party provides a simple common-sense alternative which is resonating on the doorsteps.
Parents are also extremely concerned for their children. The Johnson regime want to jab them all with experimental mRNA that is linked to heart problems in injected children. They have also introduced compulsory Sex and Relationships Education that is exposing young children to gender ideology and highly sexualised lesson content. The Heritage Party is the only party I know of that opposes both these things. I have spoken out on them since the beginning, and we offer voters a choice to protect their children from the things the government is doing to harm them.
If elected, what would you want to focus on in office?
I’ll be a voice for common sense and traditional British values in Parliament. I want to end mass rapid immigration, which is the cause of the housing crisis, I’ll speak out against the climate alarmist agenda which demonises carbon dioxide while ignoring real issues like deforestation and pollutants which really do cause damage like heavy metals, BPA, and PCBs. I’ll fight for financial responsibility and for the government to stop wasting billions of pounds on useless and unnecessary spending.
I’ll also keep fighting against political correctness and cancel culture which has become endemic and is corrosive to our everyday life. People should have the freedom to talk about whatever they want without the fear of being thrown out of University, losing their jobs, or even worse, being criminalised and imprisoned for whatever the regime deems to be ‘hate speech’ or ‘misinformation’. This is where all the other parties are taking us, but it is vital that we fight to keep our freedom, and I’ll do that in Parliament if I have the chance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.