Kingston by-election: Grove ward candidates answer your questions
As the Grove ward byelection draws near the Surrey Comet took to the streets of Kingston to find out what issues matter to residents.
The ward, which goes to the polls on Thursday, July 5, has been a Liberal Democrat stronghold for years containing Oceana, Kingston’s university and college, the sewage works, and Raven’s Ait.
Topping the list of concerns was the waiting list for council housing, regularity of the rubbish collection, noise pollution from nearby students and the provision of facilities for young people.
Kathy Mason, 35, a single mother of two from Anglesea Road asked: “What will the candidates do to help the many thousands of people on the council house waiting list?
Jackie Clipson, 53, a Kingston University lecturer and mother of two teenagers, asked: “What will the candidates do to provide better facilities for young people?”
Jack Wood, 19, asked: “What will the candidates do to help young people get on the property ladder in Kingston?”
Lana Lyle 37, a teacher living in Grove Crescent, asked: “Will the candidates fight to have the rubbish collection returned to once rather than twice a week?”
Paulette Wallace, 32, of Denmark Road: “What will the candidates do about students coming back from clubs throwing rubbish on the floor and making noise late at nights?”
Here we profile the candidates’ responses:
Name: Adrian Amer (Conservative)
Political Career: Involved in Kingston politics for more than 20 years. Stood for Grove ward in 2010 elections.
Job: Senior barrister
Campaign issues: Reduce anti-social behaviour and crime, build a practical vision for the town centre and cut council waste
Slogan: Clean Up Grove 1: The council house waiting list is long because there is a national shortage of affordable housing, to help ease the situation in Kingston
I would vote at every opportunity to force the Liberal-Democrat led Council to give priority to local people and remove red-tape from their planning process to encourage faster, sensible development locally.
2: Kingston provides a wide range of facilities. I would demand that Council Officials improve public awareness of what is provided , especially sport, so that young people can make the maximum use of what is available.
3: Housing is expensive because there is a national shortage of affordable housing, especially for families, to help ease the situation in Kingston I would push the Liberal-Democrat led Council to look at appropriate and sensible development of a number of local building sites.
4: Rubbish collection is outsourced to contractors by the Liberal-Democrats running the Council and at the end of the expensive and complex new contract I would demand that residents are consulted on how to improve the current arrangements.
5: There is no 'magic bullet' to solve this problem, a hard-hitting and sustained campaign is required to secure greater police enforcement of the law, fast food outlets to take responsibility for their customers' food packaging, night-clubs and bars to stop selling alcohol to people who have clearly had too much to drink and the University to discipline students who break the law.
Name: Jonathan Rudd (Christian People’s Alliance)
Political Career: Local campaigner, has previously stood in local elections and was on the London wide Assembly list this year.
Job: Senior consultant in computing
Campaign issues: Shortage of school places, reversing cuts at Kingston Hospital
Slogan: Doing nothing is not an option
1: There are a significant number of empty properties within the borough.
If these are privately owned I like to know why they are empty - people need homes. If they are council owned - why are they empty - people need homes.
2: The problem is no one asks young people what they want. They don't all want green spaces. When I'm elected I will want to speak to Jackie's teenagers and others of a similar age to find out what they want and what we need to provide.
3: Affordable housing! These are cheap words. Use brown field sites to develop housing. Houses will be available for those who want to buy. Those who wish to buy will purchase a percentage of the property. The council will retain ownership of the rest.
4: I do not support doubling the cost of bin collections by returning to weekly collections. Few households recycling all they can will need more than every two weeks. But I do favour enforcing public health standards.
5: I am a Street Pastor and I can assure you that isn't just a student problem. But as a first step, I'd seek meetings with the student body at the university to see if they could offer ways of policing themselves on busy and late nights when the issue is acute.
Name: David Child (BNP)
Political Career: Campaigning against the bigotry and hatred of the far left
Campaign Issues: “Putting residents first. Leave the EU. Stop the political, religious and cultural take over of Britain”
Slogan: Britain is for life, not just the jubilee
1: Put local people first and those who have lived in Kingston the longest will get priority.
2: Stop the excessive pay of council fatcats and use some of the money saved to provide better facilities for young people.
3: The European Union has had a devastating effect on British jobs especially the jobs of younger people so I would help them to get a job by campaigning against the EU.
4: I believe that a once-a-week collection should be adequate for residents
5: I would have zero-tolerance for those who throw rubbish on the floor and those who are drunk and disorderly; fines and ASBOs should be used.
Name: Rebekah Moll (Liberal Democrat)
Political Career: Community campaigner and volunteer in Edward Davey’s office.
Job: Adult social care.
Campaign issues: Saving the Kingston Hospital children's ward, the environment, community improvements for a better Kingston
Slogan: Save Sunshine ward
1: I am keen to encourage much more social and affordable housing throughout the borough – sadly previous governments did nothing to help it, the only new units of affordable housing we get are on the back of private developments.
I will do all I can to help kick-start acceptable new housing developments in Kingston to relieve the pressure on the waiting list
2: Kingston caters superbly well for young people in their late teens and twenties, but it’s the inbetweeners who most need facilities and activities to engage them.
I am a strong supporter of making greater use of our schools and council sport facilities and back local charities like Creative Youth and Save the World Club who do such good work with thousands of local teenagers.
With Kingston a host Borough for the Olympics now is a great time to inspire young people to get involved
3: I am just on that first rung of the ladder myself so I know how very difficult it can be. I want to see new developments include entry-level accommodation for first-time buyers and more purpose-built student flats to release the housing currently taken back into the community
4: Rubbish is of course collected every week in Kingston and always has been – food waste, glass, plastic, tin, paper and cardboard make up the bulk by both volume and weight of the rubbish recycled in Kingston every week – from every flat as well as every house.
Because the Lib Dems have focused so well on recycling Kingston now has one of the best rates in London saving millions of pounds in council tax and doing our bit to help save the planet
5: The Grove Ward Lib Dem councillors have worked very hard to establish better relationships between the University and the community, including a University helpline for local residents. Partnership working with the police and town centre businesses have also seen improvements along with taxi marshals and other local initiatives.
Indeed one resident I spoke to was delighted with the improvement on her road – and of course we need to bear in mind that not every night-clubber is a student!
But I promise to keep up the pressure for further improvements and for young people to take responsibility for their actions.
Name: Ryan Coley (Green Party)
Political Career: First-time candidate, student activist and anti-cuts activist
Job: Apprentice trainee at Surrey Council
Campaign issues: Affordable housing, zero waste strategy, traffic free Kingston Centre, protect green spaces and protect Kingston Hospital from the cuts
Slogan: Working for a fairer Kingston
1: I will fight hard to make sure the Lib-Dem council are doing everything in their power to clear the list. I will also be working hard to make sure all developments meet the 40% target of affordable housing set by the Lib-Dems.
2: I support communities taking over vacant buildings and turning them into local hubs to use as youth centres run by volunteers.
3: Being 19, I know that the property ladder in Kingston is incredibly difficult to get in for young people. This is why, if elected, I would fight for much more affordable housing to be made in Kingston.
4: By leaving rubbish out for an extra week it encourages vermin which then create the litter and harm the local environments.
5: I would campaign for the clubs to pay some of the cost of policing, quieter nights for the police would mean cheaper nights for the clubs.
Name: Laurie South (Labour)
Political Career: Party campaigner for more than 30 years.
Job: Retired head of national charity
Campaign Issues: Hold the council administration to account on its appalling record on secondary schools, council housing and older people’s services
Slogan: Start the change – vote Labour
1: During their 10 years the Liberal Democrats have presided over council house neglect, homelessness has risen by 37 per cent and families are living in homes that fail the 2004 decency standards.
We need a plan for the expansion and investment in appropriate and decent social housing. I will be pressing for an end to neglect of one of the key council services.
2: My youngest son grew up in Grove Ward and I know how little was available and am shocked at the depleted state of our youth services. We need to bring together all in the education services to brain-storm how we can use under-used publicly financed facilities and resources to provide a range of services.
3: A key element here is creating a plan that ensures available council land is used to create a variety of housing with some suitable for young people.
The council must work with the range of finance institutions to create new finance schemes.
This would be best done nationally through organisations like the Local Government Association, but Kingston should be taking a lead.
4: The system of weekly collection of food waste and recycling, and fortnightly land-fill collection works for me as a Grove resident, but I can understand that there are flats and other properties where there is a problem.
If that is so, as a councillor I would take up the issue. This is what a councillor is for.
5: As someone who lives on the route from the university to a hall of residence, I know the problem.
As a councillor I would work with the university on this. They are more than ready to work with the community, and I am surprised Liberal Democrat councillors have done nothing.
I also think we need to work with students on a positive community contribution. Students already undertake a lot of unsung volunteering work, but creating joint ‘’town and gown’’ projects, with so many young enthusiastic students, we can make an amazing contribution to Grove.
Name: Michael Watson (UKIP)
Political career: Campaigner for four years and previous candidate for UKIP
Job: Self employed carpenter
Campaign issues: To be an independent voice on the council, point out the hidden influence of the EU on local affairs Slogan: Red, yellow or blue, they lie to you – vote UKIP
1: To help people on the council house waiting list this candidate would continue the good work of championing the cases of all deserving residents.
2: With regard to provision of better facilities for young people this candidate would encourage churches, mosques, synagogues and secular organisations to open up and develop clubs, courses sports and social activities for them.
3: In the matter of helping youngsters to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder this candidate would fight for a reduction in council tax and the money saved could be put towards a deposit on a home
4: With regards to fortnightly bin collections this candidate would point out that it is an EU Directive which is responsible for this idiotic lunacy and getting out of the EU is the only way back to weekly bin collections
5: Concerning the anti-social behaviour of late night revellers this candidate would encourage the Police to deploy possees of Community Support Officers to patrol at the appropriate times and admonish the culprits.