Streatham: Jonathan Bartley (Green)

rsz_1jonathan_bartley_greens_streathamJonathan Bartley, Green Parliamentary Candidate for Streatham

1. Housing

As we have seen in Brixton, simply allowing developers in to build more unaffordable homes only exacerbates the housing crisis. Labour in Lambeth have also transferred around 5,000 council homes from council control and sold off co-op housing, without investing the money in new housing. It is now making communities like Cressingham Gardens pay the price. The Greens want to remove the tax breaks that buy-to-let investors get. That would raise about £6bn a year to provide “deposits” for council’s to borrow against. By lifting the cap on council borrowing 500,000 new council homes could be built over the next 5 years, including thousands in Lambeth, with the council rents covering the interest payments on them.

2. Local business

For every pound spent in a local independent shop, the majority stays in the local economy. When it is spent in a chain store, the money leaves. Local businesses should be given more support than High Street chains. And what is happening to traders under the railway arches, shows what happens when you don’t have MPs or a council prepared to fully back local businesses with action rather than words.
We would favour local trade by allowing local authorities to use their own purchasing power to favour local procurement to help the local economy. We would legislate to ensure that small businesses are paid on time. We would ensure that the great majority of honest small businesses can compete fairly with the less scrupulous by cracking down on tax evasion, especially in the informal economy and through non-payment of VAT. We would improve the competitive position of small firms, maintaining corporation tax for small firms at 20%, while raising that for larger firms to 30%. We would increase access to finance by investing £2bn in a network of community banks, mutually owned and serving local areas or particular groups.

3. Education

As a governor or a couple of local schools, I have seen how the culture of testing and league tables is putting huge pressure on children, how many children who don’t “fit in” are being excluded – both formally and informally, and how we need a more child-centred approach to education. Teachers also feel undervalued and their professionalism is undermined by a strict curriculum.

We would bring academies and free schools back under local authority control, to provide local accountability and a better inspections regime than Ofsted, involving local parents, teachers and councils. We would shrink class sizes to 20, broaden and enrich the curriculum to include more creative and vocational areas and make personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) compulsory..

We also want to create a free but voluntary universal early education and childcare service for all children from birth until compulsory school age, which we would raise to 7 years. We would integrate this into the local education service, run by local education authorities, and building on existing infant schools. We would also ensure that the system includes Children’s Centres for the very youngest children and their parents, and childcare and early education for children from age 1.

4. Leisure/Culture

I play in a semi-professional blues band, and every time we play abroad I am struck by the huge investment other countries put into the arts. Greens recognise that cultural diversity is as vital as ecological bio-diversity in maintaining and enriching a healthy and fair society. We would Increase Government Arts’ funding by £500m pa to reverse the cuts made since 2010.
We would also promote and protect cultural diversity at a grassroots level with the promotion of community radio, television, and live arts. But we are also aware of how freedom of expression is being stifled. As the recent exhibition of the Faces of Cressingham Gardens at the Brixton Ritzy demonstrated well, the role of the arts in “speaking truth to power” is crucial, and this must be protected.

5. Environment

We need bybrid electric buses through Brixton (not the second-rate retrofit buses which Labour is calling for) and extension of the Mayor’s low emission zone.

But it is simply not acceptable for the Council to go on passing the buck to Transport for London alone. We have been pushing the council to clean up its own vehicle fleet which is still run on polluting diesel. We successfully got Lambeth to agree to a 20mph borough-wide limit, but this needs to happen more quickly, so TfL can extend it to more red routes and smooth traffic flow.

After we got the council to put its air pollution monitors back online (taken offline in a cost-saving measure) the council refused to give local schools cheap diffusion tubes to monitor pollution, so we won some funding to carry out our own air pollution study. Once that is completed we will have a better understanding about how widespread the problem is, and there can be more targeted action to tackle it, including intensive greening programmes and more pedestrian zones.


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