I believe that everyone deserves a decent place to live. As well as addressing the supply of housing in Streatham, I would make sure we hold the Council to account for the quality of the homes for which it is responsible. We also need to offer more security for those who rent by encouraging longer, family friendly tenancies and giving tenants more protection from unscrupulous landlords. In addition I want the Council to pay more attention to the views of local people, on issues such as the future of Cressingham Gardens, rather than riding roughshod over objections.
The Conservatives have got Britain building again, with over 700,000 new homes delivered, including 217,000 affordable homes. Through “Help to Buy” and other home ownership schemes, over 204,000 households have got onto the Housing ladder since 2010.
Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, bringing jobs and economic security. In Streatham there have been over 600 new businesses created since 2011 and unemployment has nearly halved. The Conservatives’ plan is to back businesses with lower taxes, less red tape and better access to the finance they need to grow.
In Streatham, business owners have told me what a positive difference the £2,000 “employment allowance” has made to their National Insurance contributions. It means nearly one third of employers now pay no jobs tax at all. From April 2015 we are abolishing the jobs tax for under 21s. The Government has also created over 2.2m apprenticeships since 2010, 2,340 in Streatham alone. We will deliver 3m more high quality apprenticeships by 2020.
Our Conservative Councillors proposed a business rates rebate in their alternative budget for Lambeth, but unfortunately Labour Lambeth vetoed this proposal. This is the kind of scheme I would be delighted to support.
I am incredibly proud of the record of our primary and secondary schools in Streatham. Overall in the UK, 1m more pupils are being taught in good or outstanding schools. The Conservatives have improved standards, raised expectations and restored discipline.
It is vital that we invest in the future of our children and make sure that every child is given the opportunity to succeed, which is why it is so important that the Conservative Party has protected funding per pupil and introduced the Pupil Premium.
We need to trust teachers and heads to know what is best for their schools and 4,500 schools now have Academy status compared to 203 in 2010. We need to support school expansions to provide much needed places locally, and help parents and other groups who want to set up free schools in the area, something which Lambeth’s Labour Council has been reluctant to do.
In Streatham, many people have raised the issue of mobile phone reception blackspots and lack of access to high speed broadband. This is something I would address as a priority if elected.
I am also concerned about the future of our parks and green spaces. The recent Cultural consultation published by Lambeth Council made clear that there is a big funding gap for the upkeep of our parks. The alternative budget proposed by our Councillors would look to make savings both in administrative functions and through new, innovative ways of working rather than damaging frontline services.
I would also press for local people to be more involved in genuine consultation about the future management and usage of our parks. All too often parks and commons Friends Groups and Management Advisory Committees are ignored. Protection and enhancement of our city’s “green lungs” should be a priority, not just for our benefit but for the benefit of future generations.
Streatham High Rd is one of the most polluted areas in London. This is something that needs to be addressed urgently and I would press for more cleaner and greener buses from TfL, as well as encouraging a modal shift to encourage people make to more journeys on foot or by bicycle. We need to make our roads more cycle and pedestrian friendly. I would lobby for a review of bus routes, looking at whether we can introduce express routes with, limited stops or alternative routes to make journeys more efficient and to encourage people to use buses rather than cars for short journeys. I have also been working, along with our local Conservative Councillors to get Boris bikes introduced to the area around Clapham Common.