Luke about to lead a canvass session in Wimbleon in 2019 for Paul Kohler.
My Plan for Sutton and Cheam
Tory failures on Covid, sleaze and constant u-turns are eroding trust in our politics.
I will fight to properly fund the NHS, our schools and our police to rebuild our communities, and be a local champion for the residents of Sutton and Cheam. I will talk about the things residents care about, I will rebuild trust, build campaign teams and resources, and deliver results for residents.
I will get back to talking about local issues that Sutton and Cheam residents care about:
Fighting Tory corruption and holding our MP to account,
Coming up with real local solutions to the climate crisis,
Saving A&E and Maternity services at St Helier hospital,
Improving local public transport and active travel provision,
Fighting for proper funding for our childrens’ schools, and
Reinventing our high streets for the post-covid world.
To spread these messages to residents I will build the campaign team we need to win:
I will rebuild ward teams by attracting more members and activists with targeted doorstep recruitment, repeating my success in Belmont, Cheam and Sutton West, and
I will boost our campaign resources by attracting new donors, repeating my success fundraising for the local party over the past year.
I HAVE THE EXPERIENCE TO BUILD A WINNING TEAM HERE IN SUTTON AND CHEAM
MORE DETAILS ON MY CAMPAIGNING PRORITIES
Cleaning Up Politics
Only electoral reform can clean up our politics, voting Liberal Democrat in Sutton and Cheam can deliver wholesale reform of our politics.
This Tory government has brought sleaze back like it’s the 1990’s again, and we have to call it out for what it is: Corruption. Canvassing for the GLA elections earlier this year there was surprisingly little cut through on the doorstep for the cronyism and favours the Tories had done for donors and friends during the Covid crisis. Diverting cash away from the NHS to donors pockets was unforgivable, but for some reason many recent Tory voters were giving them a free pass.
The more recent revelations about Owen Paterson’s corruption and the local Tory MP voting to let him off the hook has made it a relevant local issue, and I have found that the issue is starting to be mentioned on the doorstep by voters.
Growing disquiet amongst Tory voters to the way Johnson is leading his party and the country must be nurtured and used as a powerful switch issue with Tory voters, encouraging them to send a message to Johnson with their vote. Critically we need to do this to keep control of the council and win a strong majority next May, and then move straight into a campaign to get rid of this Tory MP that enables Johnson’s corruption to stain the reputation of our parliament and democracy.
The link between Tory corruption, safe seats, and the need for electoral reform to deliver Proportional Representation is clear and should be used to demonstrate our core value of fairness, and our plan to clean up politics. This issue also reassures Labour and Green voters that we do not take their votes for granted, and ultimately we want them to be able to vote for positive policies and not having to vote against the Tories due to the First Past the Post voting system.
Environment and The Climate Crisis
The Climate Crisis is an existential threat to our planet, we have to develop programs to help residents to insulate homes, install heat pumps, replace petrol and diesel cars with electric vehicles, and use active travel to dramatically cut our personal emissions.
The Tories have proven that they are still in the pocket of the big businesses and fossil fuel companies who want to continue with business as usual, we can show residents that only the Liberal Democrats have a track record of measures to fight the climate crisis from our time in coalition, and also now a viable plan to change path and actually set us on the right course to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The local Tory MP has consistently voted against measures to fight the climate crisis, link here, and recently showed his distain for the environment by voting against measures to stop sewage being pumped into our rivers and beaches.
Sutton Council has been a leader in climate friendly building over the past decade; we built the UK’s first net Zero Carbon school in Hackbridge in 2020, and also the pioneering BedZed One Planet Living development in 2002. We then built the Harris Academy in Belmont which was the first Passivhaus school in the UK, a series of firsts from this ambitious council.
We need to do so much more though.
I would use my position as PPC and then as your MP to campaign for the reinstatement and expansion of the Green Homes Grant Scheme to allow residents to replace gas boilers with heat pumps, insulate ceilings and walls, replace leaky old windows, reduce energy consumption and hence reduce their heating bills in the future.
I would campaign for all our local bus services to be transitioned to zero emission vehicles as soon as possible, and the same for all council vehicles including Veolia and IDVerde refuse and maintenance vehicles. I would also work with the council, and private sector providers, to bring electric vehicle charging points to our residential streets and car parks to enable residents to join the transition to zero emissions electric vehicles.
More locally, flooding from the Beverley Brook is increasingly affecting residents of Worcester Park. In 2012 there was flood alleviation work completed however this appears to no longer be effective at managing the increasingly severe rain events that are occurring more frequently. I would work with the environment agency to investigate the issues and ask for remediation to be conducted as soon as possible.
Improving public transport links, and facilities for active travel in Sutton and Cheam, will be vital to allow people to leave their cars at home and get on their bike or the bus to get around for work and leisure.
Bringing London Overground services to Sutton stations from Croydon and other routes would improve our connections to the rest of London, and I will also work to double track the section of railway between Sutton and Belmont to boost public transport connections to the new Hospital, the cancer centre and the Royal Marsden. We also need to finally deliver the Tramlink extension to Sutton town centre, and to the Marsden Hospital site.
We need to monitor closely and resist the threat of cuts to the budget for the new Belmont hospital that would potentially reduce the scale of the new hospital development, but more likely the funding for the required transport improvements to Brighton Road, Banstead Road South, Downs Road and the junctions around the hospital site.
As PPC I would hold the Tory MP to account for any cuts the government may imposed, and also work with the hospital trust to make sure that the required upgrades are included in the planning submission.
We all know that getting around the constituency is getting more challenging, with increased road congestion causing delays and emissions, and unreliable and infrequent bus services making public transport slow and unreliable. Cycling on many of our roads feels unsafe, and walking is often hazardous due to pavement parking, poor surfaces and insufficient road crossings.
Getting people to consider active public transport or active travel is vital, however we badly mismanaged the implementation of active travel schemes like LTNs, cycle lanes and the Worcester Park bus-gate over the past year, which has created opposition from many residents who support our aims, but not the way the schemes were imposed.
To fight climate change, reduce air pollution, and to improve the health of residents we need to achieve an increase in active travel. To do this we need more carrots and fewer sticks. We need to better plan our streets and public spaces to invite people rather than cars. We must retain access for those that need to drive, but we should make walking, cycling and scooting safe, comfortable and convenient for residents.
We do this by first enabling those choices to be made, by providing safe and secure bike and scooter parking, segregated cycle lanes, pedestrian priority spaces with seating and amenities, rather than by using blunt tools like road closures and bus gates to ban cars. People will not adapt and change behaviour if forced, we must enable residents to make these sustainable choices for themselves.
As PPC I will work hard to rebuild the trust with residents on these important schemes, but also make sure that the Council group listen to residents and proceed at a speed they are comfortable with.
Funding our NHS and social care properly is the only way to deliver the services we need, campaigning locally to ensure GPs are available and to stop further cuts to services at St Helier will be vital as PPC.
Despite the welcome investment in the new Hospital in Belmont, local residents are rightly concerned at the loss of Maternity and A&E services at St Helier, which will impact many residents in the north of the constituency. I will fight to protect St Helier from further cuts to services, and also make sure the Government delivers all the promised services at the needed new hospital in Belmont.
Across the NHS there is a crisis in recruitment, hundreds of thousands of positions unfilled, and hundreds of thousands of social care positions empty. We need to show residents how repeated Tory failures are the single greatest cause of the staffing crisis which they amplified by this disastrous Brexit, leaving the NHS unprepared and unready for the covid crisis.
Only the Liberal Democrats have solutions to fix the crisis in the NHS, and that’s to provide the funding that the service needs. Being honest with people that we have to pay a bit more in tax to protect the quality of service that we need, and to pay nurses and carers a fair wage, but that it must be done in a fair and progressive way through income tax is an absolutely core Liberal Democrat value.
Cost of Living Crisis
This Tory MP is enabling an assault on the most vulnerable in our society, and he must be exposed and resisted at every turn. We must fight for Universal Credit to be increased, and residents protected from energy price rises.
The Tory government have repeatedly failed the most vulnerable throughout the covid crisis. The local Tory MP voted against feeding hungry school children during a pandemic and enables a government that has taken away the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift that kept so many families above water.
Tory failure has now required tax increases, benefit reductions and record price increases on everyday goods. On top of this, the UK’s energy crisis will leave many families in Sutton and Cheam making the choice between eating and heating this winter, with even bigger price rises expected in the new year.
As PPC and as MP I would campaign for increases in the Universal Credit funding, and also support the work of local foodbanks, fundraise for them and fight for further funding from whatever sources are possible, at the same time as highlighting Tory government failures and work to get them out of office at the earliest opportunity.
In the long term I am a believer in Universal Basic Income to completely revolutionise our society and communities, and enable people to provide for their basic needs in a dignified way.
Crime and Our Communities
We must rebuilt trust in our police, strengthen our communities through education, and properly fund our justice system.
Sutton may have some of the lowest crime rates in London, but the fear of crime affects people across the borough. Talking to residents on the doorstep, drug dealing, anti-social behaviour and sexual harassment are common, and lack of police on the street is affecting the confidence and freedom of residents to enjoy their town.
Crimes like catalytic converter thefts and burglaries are not investigated due to lack of resources provided to the police, again because of Tory cuts to funding.
The entire justice system is close to collapse because of underfunding of the courts, which is leading to failure to properly tackle crimes against women and girls, investigate rape cases and deliver justice for victims by taking dangerous criminals off the streets. Only 2.4% of reported rape cases end in convictions, and it is estimated that only a third of rapes are even reported to the police making the real conviction figures even lower.
This is unforgivable, and amplifies the importance of getting rid of this Tory Government, and finally funding our police and justice system to deliver justice, and keep our streets safe.
These critical issues link through to education, where we have to put more focus onto working with school and community leaders, and get sexual harassment guidance onto the national curriculum.
Recent incidents with the Met police have also shown that we need to rebuild trust between the police and our communities. To do this we need change at the top of the Met. Dame Cressida Dick’s position is untenable after the Sarah Everard tragedy, the revelations over obstructing an investigation into police corruption, and historical failings dating back to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Rebuilding trust in the police across London can only start with a new Commissioner of the Met Police.
As PPC I will work with our Councillors and the Safer Neighbourhood Ward panels in the constituency to ensure that the right focus is being given to the crimes that are affecting residents, and as MP I will make sure that the funding we need is delivered.
I will also make links with local schools and community leaders to help put the focus on teaching our children what is and is not acceptable behaviour, and also the importance of reporting violence and harassment they encounter.
As a parent in the constituency, and having come through the comprehensive school system, I am critically aware of the need for the best possible quality of education for all our children. I will fight for fair funding for our schools, and make sure that Covid crisis affected year groups get the funding to catch up.
Living in the constituency as the parent of two young boys, the importance of making our schools as good as they can be is both personal and political for me.
In Sutton we need to make sure we have enough school places for local children. I will campaign against the unfair Tory government funding formula that has taken money away from schools serving the most disadvantaged. Sutton schools are rightfully rated some of the best in London, and through the effort of the council we have ensured sufficient places for local kids, we need to make sure the government do not impose unsuitable schools such as the proposal that the council rejected at Rosehill.
More generally we need to ensure that all the children who have missed out on classes during covid, especially those who have missed exams that will have been critical to places at secondary schools, sixth forms, or higher education courses, are not left behind by providing the targeted funding they need to catch up.
Community spaces will be at the heart of the high street in the future, I will support and promote the great work the council has done on this already, and work to engage residents across the constituency in being a part of it.
The internet shopping boom changed the nature of our high streets, and over the past two years covid has further accelerated that change. Today there are more empty units and underutilised spaces on the high streets across our borough than ever before.
Liberal Democrat Sutton Council has already taken the lead with developing new, exciting community spaces like the Sound Lounge that provide both community and social value, and also help to draw people back to the high street to make struggling businesses more viable.
As PPC and MP I would promote the concept of 15 minute cities, where all the services and amenities for work, recreation and commerce are accessible within a 15 minute walk from your home. I would work with the council and with private businesses to help our towns and high streets to develop in a more sustainable way, and to provide a better quality of life for residents.