The Streatham Manifesto

It’s all over the news, you’ve seen it in the papers, Parliament will be dissolved and we get to elect our MPs to represent us anew. Many say, “What’s the point; they’re all alike and nothing changes!” Given no more than 10% of seats has ever changed hands in the past 100 years this is an understandable sentiment. But we thought we would speak to a wide range of local people and ask them: “If a new gov’t could do something to make your life better (RULES: no magic wands, no extra money and only national gov’t issues) , what would it be?” We were looking for local concerns.

Streatham is an interesting place. It’s one of the youngest areas in the UK, and many of those young people are transient – working but living here for the moment in rented accommodation. They may be living outside the area mere weeks or months from now. Many are also in school, or are students studying away from home for much of the year. All of these situations create interesting issues directly affected by gov’t policy. At the same time there are around 10,000 people of pensionable age, or approaching it. They have issues important to them as well, and they vote.

The largest number of our ad hoc group of people said they wanted more affordable housing. Some wish this for themselves as their families are growing, they need more room but their kids are settled and they don’t want to move away. Others don’t see how their children could ever afford to live in or near London, to say nothing of Streatham. This can be aggravated by student debt, which on average is the highest in the Western world, compounds at CPI + 3% regardless of income or payment status, and averages £44,000 upon graduation. Some graduates will never pay this off, and for many their creditworthiness and ability to get a mortgage can be damaged by this.

Also important to many is transport. Several of our respondents said it regularly takes them almost 2 hours to commute to jobs in parts of north and/or east London. We timed it and we can say we got almost to Stonehenge on Good Friday in heavy traffic in 2 hours! This is ridiculous, but how many MPs actually experience this? We know from the Crossrail 2 campaign that what “may have” made sense for public transport investment years ago doesn’t stack up to reality today, and gov’ts need to be brave and change their minds.

Two barristers (who are also mums) came to us about the scandal of how much money is wasted locking people up, when a fraction of that mega-fortune spent as targeted spending on at-risk young people could prevent much of the crime that prison sentences were meant to stop. But have you ever heard that in the media or the press…?

Speaking of crime, three people were stabbed to death in London over this past weekend. Both parents and older folk we spoke to were very concerned about the sudden rise in violent crime and where it’s come from and don’t believe the Met are prepared to deal with it.

Finally someone always spoke about how things are expensive and not getting any less expensive and the conversation stayed there once started. Council tax, utilities, trains, buses, school expenses, rent – the list went on and on and a universal issue was for the gov’t to quit doing things that made life more expensive!

These are many of the things people tell us are important to them. Listen to what candidates promise regarding what’s important to you. Ask yourself “will they deliver?” (based on your experience) and “HOW will they deliver?” given everything you know. Then we urge you to vote. If you don’t, we assume you’re happy with the way things are.

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