N O D Y O R C talk Delivered FREE by volunteers at no cost to the taxpayer
DEALING WITH THE DEFICIT GETTING THE ECONOMY GROWING AGAIN REGENERATING CROYDON ENDING THE SOMETHINGFOR-NOTHING CULTURE RESTORING FAITH IN POLITICS
FIXING OUR BROKEN SOCIETY: WHAT’S CHANGED 12 MONTHS ON FROM THE RIOTS?
CONTENTS Letter from Gavin
Dealing with the deficit 4-5 Getting the economy growing again
Regenerating Croydon 8-9 Ending the something-for-nothing culture
Fixing our broken society
Restoring faith in politics
This magazine was paid for by Croydon Conservative Federation and delivered by volunteers at no cost to Council Taxpayers
Can you help? If youâ€™d like to help Gavin and Croydon Conservatives change Croydon for the better, please tick one or more of the boxes below and return to Gavin Barwell, 36 Brighton Road, Purley CR8 2LG Name Address Tel No Email The following area could do with a clean up:
I can help with community projects like litter picks I can deliver 50 or so leaflets in my area three or four times a year I can display a poster at election time I would like to join Croydon Conservatives
u elected l Election when yo ra ne Ge st la e th ars since It’s just over two ye r of Parliament. be em me as your M wanted ring that election du to e ok direction in sp I le of the peop tal changes to the en am nd fu t bu t, The vast majority rnmen a change of Gove change - not just . ed was head which our country y growing again. to get the econom it fic de e th ith w d to deal They knew we ha k hard and of people who wor e sid e th on as w re. that -for-nothing cultu ted a government to the something But they also wan op st a t pu ld ou w one that play by the rules, fix our broken tional values and di tra r fo up d an ld st vernment that wou They wanted a go society. ht politics for the rig MPs who were in f el ted to its an ics w lit le po op to pe changes ey thought th t ha w t no d, And they wanted ve lie ld say what they be reasons; who wou s. ise eir prom hear; and keep th enough e failed to convince w , ur bo La m fro ge sult, although the ople wanted a chan vernment. As a re Although most pe Go e tiv overall va er ns Co a wanted t, we didn’t have an en am rli Pa in s of them that they at se t d up with the mos ocrats. Conservatives ende ith the Liberal Dem w on iti al co a rm fo to d ha d majority an st eeks but over its fir y in the last few w or gl r. This fo in f g el in its ok d lo re e ’t cove people wer s ge an ch e th That Coalition hasn er liv ne a lot to try to de two years it has do . rd co re ises its magazine summar in politics. restore a little faith to try to P M l ca lo ose who t I’ve done as your all of the time - th le op pe e th of l It also sets out wha al se t whatever never going to plea with what I do. Bu ee gr sa di to g In my job, you are in go the job you es are sometimes wn and am doing to r ou t ou ab support other parti re ca you believe that I your politics, I hope y ability. the very best of m have given me to
Gavin Barwell ntral ent for Croydon Ce Member of Parliam
Cuts to local services. A two-year pay freeze in the public sector. Changes to the retirement age. No Child Benefit for higher earners. The tough decisions this Government has made to deal with the deficit affect almost everyone in Croydon. There’s no easy way out of the mess. The harsh truth is that there’s no easy, painless way out of the mess the banks and the last Government got us in. It would be great if we could make the banks foot the entire bill. Unlike Labour, the Coalition has introduced a permanent tax on the banks but squeeze too hard and they will simply move elsewhere and thousands of people will lose their jobs. We all have to make a contribution.
DEALING DEFICIT way beyond our means and expect them to pick up the tab. I’ve got three young boys and they’re going to find it hard enough to afford a place of their own in Croydon in a few years’ time as it is, without us burdening them with our debts.
How big is the mess? When the Coalition came to power, our debt was increasing faster than any other major economy in the world. The deficit - the amount Labour had to borrow in their last year, not our overall debt - was £155,000,000,000. It’s difficult to get your head around a number that big. Put simply, for every £3 Labour raised in taxes, they were spending £4. Imagine what would happen if you ran your finances that way. We can’t carry on borrowing at that rate. It isn’t fair to our children to keep on living
The Government has by a quarter 4
Government has taken, it’s going to take until 2016 to get rid of the deficit and actually start reducing our overall debt. Is that really too fast?
It would be an economic disaster too. You only have to look at what’s happening in countries like Greece to see that the longer you leave it before you start living within your means, the more painful it eventually is. And it wouldn’t just mean bigger cuts in the end - it would also be terrible news for anyone with a mortgage. Our interest rates are at record low levels because , as a result of the action the Government has taken, lenders have confidence we’ll repay our debts. In countries like Greece, interest rates are much higher. Just a 1 per cent increase in our rates would mean about £1,000 on the average annual mortgage bill.
What the Government is doing is painful but in our hearts most of us know that as a country we have to start living within our means. And we are making progress - in its first two years, the Government has reduced the deficit by a quarter. We need to stick with it, not pass the burden on to our children.
Too far, too fast? Some people say they understand the need to make some cuts but the Government is going too far, too fast. They want us to borrow more so that we can spend more, but that’s what got us into this mess in the first place. You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis - it’s like taking out a loan to pay off the debt on your credit card. Even with all the tough decisions the
Quite a few Croydon residents have contacted me to say we shouldn’t be increasing the aid budget when we’re having to make painful cuts at home. They have a strong case, but on the other hand the money we spend on overseas aid literally saves the lives of some of the poorest children on the planet. I certainly think the Government was right to protect the NHS budget - and it’s good to see waiting times coming down as a result.
The NHS and overseas aid. The Government is cutting its spending by about 1 per cent a year. That may not sound a lot but with spending on some areas, like the NHS and overseas aid, still increasing, some other budgets are really feeling the squeeze.
reduced the deficit 5
Times are tough at the moment. Our town is struggling, just like most other parts of the country (see pages 8-9). There’s only so much the Government can do - we’re not immune from what’s happening on the continent in our largest export markets.
‘For the first time in nearly 40 years, the UK is exporting more cars than we are importing’
The starting point is to deal with the deficit - if we don’t do that, interest rates will rise sharply and that will kill off any hope of a recovery. But because lenders have confidence that the Government is doing that, it is in a position to do other things to boost growth.
GETTING THE ECONO A more balanced economy. Under Labour, the economy was based on financial services, debt and immigration - manufacturing almost halved. The Coalition wants to build a more balanced economy, where financial services are strong but they are not the only string to our bow. We need to be a manufacturing nation too, making use of our strength in science and technology to build things that we can export. That’s why, despite the need to deal with the deficit, the Government has protected the science budget and is setting up a network of technology and innovation centres to try to translate research at world-leading British universities into commercial opportunities. And when it comes to manufacturing, there are some encouraging signs - for the first time in nearly 40 years, we are exporting more cars than we are importing.
Making sure small businesses have access to finance. Recovery is going to be driven by small businesses and they will only grow and create jobs if they can borrow money. The Government has set up a National Loan Guarantee Scheme to help but this is an area where it needs to do more - I am still getting Croydon businesses approaching me saying they can’t access finance on reasonable terms. A competitive tax system. The Government has cut the rate of Corporation Tax from 28% to 24% to encourage businesses to locate here. And it has stopped Labour’s planned increase in the National Insurance contributions employers pay, which would have made it more expensive to employ people - a crazy thing to do when thousands of people in Croydon are unemployed.
‘Interest rates are at record low levels’
most highly-skilled workforce in the world. That’s why the Coalition is putting so much effort into reforming our education system - giving teachers back the power to impose discipline in the classroom; sacking headteachers of schools that repeatedly fail to meet minimum standards; bringing back rigour to the curriculum and exam system; encouraging more of an emphasis on subjects that employers value like maths, English, sciences and modern languages; opening 24 University Technical Colleges with an emphasis on cutting-edge vocational training; and nearly doubling the number of people starting an apprenticeship.
MY GROWING AGAIN Helping people back to work. Unemployment is falling but there are still far too many people who can’t find work. The Government is doing everything it can to help. Its new Work Programme provides tailored support to each job seeker - I spent some time at Croydon JobCentre Plus a few months ago seeing the new approach in action. The companies and charities delivering the programme get paid based on their success in getting people back to work.
Reforming the banks. Finally, as well as getting the economy growing again we need to make it less vulnerable to another banking crash. The Government is implementing the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking to make the banks hold extra equity and introduce a ring fence, separating their investment banking from more traditional personal and business lending, so that in a crisis the Government can save our accounts without bailing out the investment banks.
And the new Enterprise Allowance provides help - both mentoring and financial support - to unemployed people who want to start their own business. Making sure young people have the skills employers need. In the long term, the best way to ensure more companies locate here is to have the
Regenerating Allders The news that Allders has gone into administration, putting at risk over 850 jobs, is the latest of a series of blows to strike our town over the last 12 months. Both the Leader of the Council and I were contacted by the Chief Executive of Allders a few days before the announcement to alert us to the fact that the business was in trouble. We did everything we could to help - the Council offered to defer the company’s business rates, we persuaded Allders’ landlord to waive their rent payments and we contacted Mark Prisk, the Minister for Business & Enterprise, and met with his officials, but with creditors turning up at the store to remove their stock while we were meeting it was clear that the game was up. If Allders had contacted us before they were in such a deep hole, we would have had more time to put together a rescue package but it is no good dwelling on what ifs - we need to focus on finding a buyer for the store and getting new investment into our town.
Redeveloping the Whitgift Centre The medium-term prospects for retail in Croydon are potentially very bright. Two of the biggest retail developers in the world - Westfield, who own two shopping centres in London at Shepherds Bush and Stratford; and Hammersons, who own Brent Cross - are interested in investing hundreds of millions of pounds in Croydon to redevelop the Whitgift Centre. That’s what’s needed to reverse the decline of our shopping district and bring top brands like John Lewis, Apple and Gap to the town, which will in turn support more independent shops. At the moment, though, we have stalemate. Westfield have signed an exclusivity agreement with the Whitgift Foundation, who own the freehold of the Centre; Hammersons are the preferred partner of Royal London Asset Management and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, who between them own 75% of the leasehold interest.
UNEMPLOYMENT IN CROYDON CENTRAL IS DOWN BY OVER 5 PER CENT IN THE LAST TWO MONTHS.
£23M INVESTMENT FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND THE LONDON MAYOR
Croydon We urgently need to find a way to break this stalemate. We can’t afford to wait two or three years for Westfield and Hammersons to battle it out in the courts while our shopping district continues to decline. And major investment in our shopping district is the catalyst we need to secure other investment in our town - there are a number of major residential schemes with planning consent that are not financially viable in the current housing market, but that would become viable once it was clear that Westfield/Hammersons was definitely going ahead. I am meeting with the Mayor of London shortly to ask him to intervene to break the deadlock.
Making the town a more attractive place for businesses to locate We have had some positive news in recent months. The Government and the Mayor have provided £23 million to support the long-term recovery of the town in the wake of the riots. The Council is using this money to set up something akin to an Enterprise Zone in the area between Wellesley Road and the railway with reductions in rates to encourage businesses to locate there. It is also using this money to improve the public realm in the town centre - for example by introducing pedestrian crossings across Wellesley Road so people don’t have to use unpleasant subways. Network Rail and the Council are currently building a second ticket hall at the other end of East Croydon station and a pedestrian bridge over the railway to tackle overcrowding in the current ticket hall and provide a much better connection between the station and the shopping district.
A UNIVERSITY-BACKED INNOVATION CENTRE WILL HELP BRING NEW JOBS TO OUR TOWN
ENDING THE ‘SOMETHING People who contribute little or nothing to our country seem to get a better deal than those who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules. Ending this something-for-nothing culture is the single most popular thing the Coalition could do. And on this front it has made a good start.
‘We’ve put a cap on what an out-of-work family can earn on benefits.’
A cap on what you can earn on benefits. The Government has capped the total amount of benefits an out-of-work household can claim - no matter how many children you have, you can’t earn more on benefits than the average family gets by working. Remarkably, Labour MPs opposed this; personally, I would have liked to see the limit set a little lower. The Government has also capped Housing Benefit to prevent those on benefits living in million pound houses that the hardworking families who foot the bill could only dream of. It is cracking down on fraud, checking whether people are really unfit for work and not allowing people to keep turning down jobs and still keep their benefits. And it is reforming our welfare system so that it always pays more to work than to sit at home doing nothing. Controlling immigration Under Labour, net migration (the number of people coming to this country legally minus the number of people leaving) was over 2.2 million, more than twice the population of Birmingham - and that doesn’t include the people who came here illegally.
‘This year’s pension increase is the biggest ever’ Immigration can be a good thing - think of all the people from migrant backgrounds who have contributed to our town by setting up businesses, working in our public services, volunteering for local charities or enriching our culture - but it has to be controlled and we need to make sure the people who settle here are highly skilled so they create wealth rather than low skilled people who end up competing with our unemployed for work. The Coalition is reducing net migration from the hundreds of thousands a year to the tens of thousands a year by
-FOR-NOTHING’ CULTURE significant number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children as a result of the large UK Border Agency presence in the town. Helping hard-working families with the cost of living Despite the need to deal with the deficit, the Government is doing what it can to help hard-pressed families:
‘The Budget cut income tax for 24 million people’
it has cut income tax for 24 million people, with those in low paid or part time work gaining most. Two million people on the lowest incomes will be taken out of paying income tax altogether and people working full time on the minimum wage will have their income tax bill cut in half. The Chancellor spent 35 times as much on this tax cut as on cutting the top rate of tax - his priority is helping working families on low and middle incomes, not the rich; it has helped my colleagues at the Town Hall freeze Council Tax bills for the last two years; it has cut fuel duty by 10p per litre compared with what Labour were planning;
clamping down on all but the highest skilled economic migrants, closing bogus colleges and stopping sham marriages. It is also changing the law to try to stop foreign nationals who commit crimes from using human rights legislation to avoid deportation - the rights of the law-abiding majority are more important. And I have ensured that Croydon Council is properly compensated for the cost of caring for a
in April, it increased the state pension by £5.30 per week, the biggest cash rise ever. The Coalition has promised that each year the state pension will be increased in line with earnings, prices or by 2.5 per cent - whichever is highest; and it is putting pressure on energy companies to keep bills down and to make it easier for customers to see - and easily switch to - the lowest possible tariff.
Fixing our broken Last August, we learnt that hundreds of our fellow Croydonians have no respect for other people’s property or traditional values. The riots were a dramatic illustration that there is too much coarseness, incivility and a general lack of responsibility in modern Britain. Government can’t turn that round on its own, but it can give a lead. Visiting the scene of the riots with GLA Member Steve O’Connell and Council Deputy Leader Tim Pollard
Properly punishing people who break the law... After the riots, I argued that the courts needed to impose tough sentences on those responsible to send a clear message. I got a lot of stick from some quarters for saying that, but it was good to see that the sentences imposed did reflect public opinion. I’d like to see the Government increase the sentences for many crimes, but sadly my Liberal Democrat colleagues don’t agree. Last month, I discovered that someone had stolen the plaque from my Dad’s grave in Beckenham Cemetery. The police think they have caught the scrap metal dealer who bought my Dad’s plaque (and thousands more). If he is found guilty, he’ll probably serve a few months in prison at the most. What message does that send?
…and helping them address their problems. Around half of all crime is committed by people who have already been convicted of previous offences. Some say this shows prison doesn’t work. They point to the fact that many prisoners have mental health problems, a drug and/or alcohol addiction and/or few if any educational qualifications and suggest we should be helping them address these problems, not locking them up. There are two flaws with this argument. First, prison does work in the narrow sense that while people are in jail they are not out committing crime. Second, it’s a false choice - why can’t we remove people from the communities they have terrorised and while we are doing that help them address their problems? The Government is starting to pay the people who run our prisons on the basis of how successful they are at stopping prisoners re-offending once they are released, rather than simply the number of prisoners they look after, which should make a difference.
society... Responsibilities, not rights. One of the problems with modern society is there’s too much emphasis on people’s rights and not enough on their responsibilities. I’m not against human rights - things like the right to free speech and the right to freedom of religion are fundamental to a free society - but we have somehow got ourselves into a position where the rights of a suspected terrorist like Abu Qatada trump the rights of the rest of us and where decisions are made by a court in Strasbourg rather than by our courts or Parliament. Sadly, this is another area where we can’t convince our Liberal Democrat colleagues of the need for change.
Lillian’s Law Last year, the family of Lillian Groves, a 14 year-old constituent of mine who was killed outside her home in New Addington by a driver under the influence of drugs, came to see me at one of my surgeries. The driver was sentenced to just eight months in jail and served just four months because of a flaw in the law and the lack of an equivalent to the breathalyser that would have allowed the police to test the level of drugs in his system at the roadside. To their great credit, Lillian’s family wanted something positive to come from her death and asked if I could help change the law so that other families don’t have to go through what they have suffered. I raised the issue with the Prime Minister and he invited me to bring the Groves family to 10 Downing Street to meet him. They obviously made an impression because he has included a Bill to change the law in this year’s Queen’s Speech. It’s nice to have had a hand in changing the law but the real credit must go to Lillian’s family and to The Croydon Advertiser who supported them. To those who have lost faith in our political system, their story shows that if you have a good cause and a bit of help along the way, you can change things.
Restoring faith Most of the people I spoke to in the run-up to the last Election were understandably pretty cynical about politics - the expenses scandal had killed off what little faith they previously had. Since I got elected, I have tried to do what I can to restore a little faith: Representing my home town Unlike many MPs, I represent the place where I grew up. Croydon isn’t just my constituency, it’s my home. In it for the right reasons I was happy to take a pay cut to become an MP. I view it as public service, not an opportunity to make money. I don’t have a second home and I don’t employ any family members. You can view my expense claims and the supporting receipts on my website to check for yourself that I’m not claiming for anything inappropriate. Interested in your views all year round, not just at election time Getting feedback from constituents helps me to do a better job. Most weekends, I spend time knocking on doors to ask people about their concerns. I regularly distribute literature like this magazine with a feedback form. I have a website (www.gavinbarwell.com), I’m on Twitter (@gavinbarwellmp) and I send email bulletins to those who have given me their email address (email me at gavin.barwell. firstname.lastname@example.org). I have regular meetings with all the Residents’ Association Chairmen in the constituency and regular public meetings (recent issues include immigration, cuts and same sex marriage). Last summer, I sent out a survey to every property in the constituency asking people how they thought I was doing. Thousands replied and I’m still in the process of sending an individual response to everyone who did. Here to help Many MPs base their staff at Westminster but I’ve opened up a constituency office at 133 Wickham Road. If you need help, you can talk to my staff 9am-5pm Monday to Friday either in person or by calling 020 8663 8741. Staying in touch When Parliament isn’t sitting, I spend time working in local public services and businesses to see for myself how government policies are working. So far, I’ve spent time at Croydon University Hospital; Benson’s Primary School; Marks & Spencer’s; Croydon JobCentre Plus; Redgates School for children with severe learning difficulties; and Croydon police. Making a difference locally MPs should do more than just lobby the Government and the local council - they should do things on the ground to make their area a better place to live. So far, I’ve set up a Job Club on Monks Hill, recruited a group of volunteers to help keep our parks and open spaces clean and got together ‘Project Change ‘, a group of nearly 300 teenagers to try to change perceptions of young people in our town. Not just toeing the party line Although I’m a Conservative, I don’t just toe the party line. Where I think the Government or our local Council have got something wrong - on Afghanistan, on proposed changes to parking controls, on library closures and on the Menta planning application I’ve been prepared to say so.
in politics “Thank you so much Gavin, that is fantastic news! You are the most effective MP that I have ever encountered” (R Woolterton) “I am very pleased to see someone like you is looking after people in Croydon” (P Chatterjee) “I just wanted to say a huge thank-you for your efforts on my behalf. You and your team have restored my faith that our elected officials do care and work for us. I appreciated the prompt and personally tailored replies from real people, having expected automated standard responses.” (L Brennan)
Above: Gavin and his team
a rare “Politicians who speak their mind are hear to ng eshi refr was commodity…So it when Gavin Barwell speak with such honesty this ack setb l ona pers ting he suffered a devasta ked shoc was MP tral Cen n week. The Croydo en a to discover sick metal thieves had stol of his ne esto grav the from memorial plaque -of-three dad The 5. 200 in dad David, who died about e spok he n whe ches didn’t pull his pun career. his on eye one he’d the incident because ned: war and g’ mba ‘scu a f He branded the thie g goin are you are, you who ‘If I ever find out an hum very ral, natu very a to regret it.’ It was well had response to an appalling crime. Mr Bar with ster tmin Wes in y man already impressed last of act imp ting asta dev his response to the is, cris of time a At n. ydo Cro summer ’s riots on t silen the of alf beh on tly uen he spoke out eloq town. We majority of law-abiding people in his Barwell Mr like s MP e mor could do with a few 2012) in Westminster” (The Sun, 25th May
“Thank you so much for your concern and all the effort you are putting in to ensure Croydon is a safe place to live, and more importantly acting on the email I sent you in distress.” (A Micah)
Right: Project Change volunteers helped clean up West Croydon
Page Central - Home MP for Croydon Gavin Barwell The web site of
Central MP for Croydon Gavin Barwell, Home
n for the better Changing Croydo website. 2010. It’s a huge Central on 6th May Croydon virtually lived in the new MP for Croydon as Parliament. I’ve I was elected as Croydon. As well my home town in Hill and now in South n and privilege to represent Shirley then in Monksa Governor of the Whitgift Foundatio all my life, first in I’m a number of Croydon Central, I also help to run being the MP for old school, Trinity. parks and open spaces Governors at my keep our Chairman of the a team who help including work. volunteer projects, get back into Club to help people clean and a Job change Croydon to trying am I I’m who I am, how keep an eye on what you more about and how you can This website tells have views for you so if you country for the better Central and our help out. I work and maybe even me know. doing, get in touch - good or bad - let on how I am doing
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