Five candidates are contesting the seat which swung To Labour last time
November 20, 2019
Large parts of the parliamentary constituency of Battersea are undergoing major development at the moment, and it’s an area where there is a stark contrast between the wealthiest and poorest areas.
In the last election Labour’s Marsha de Cordova gained the seat from the Conservatives’ Jane Ellison in a 10 per cent swing.
Battersea overwhelmingly voted to remain with 77.95 per cent wanting to stay in the EU during the 2016 referendum, and Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens are all strongly in favour of stopping Brexit. But will they split the vote and allow the Conservatives to take the seat back?
The nominations are now closed and five candidates will be contesting the constituency.
WandsworthSW18.com has asked all the candidates to answer some questions on key local issues and where we received responses we have added them below.
Lois Davis, Green
Lois Davis has lived in Battersea for more than 20 years and is a member of the Battersea Society.
She is now semi-retired, after a career as a documentary film maker and academic, but still teaches English as a foreign language.
She is also a campaigner for Living Streets, to ensure safer streets for breathing, walking and cycling, and Clapham Junction Action Group, challenging property developers and defending local housing needs.
She is campaigning for a People’s Vote and the importance of remaining in Europe to deal with the Climate Emergency, for freedom of movement and for a real end to austerity.
Here are Ms Davis’ responses to our Q&A...
If there is a second referendum would you vote to remain or exit the EU? And how do you envisage this stance would sit with your constituents?
Greens were the first to call for a People's Vote following the referendum and I will certainly vote to remain when, at last we get a chance to vote on the Brexit deal! I'm confident that most of Battersea would do the same. Wandsworth voted to remain by a massive 75% in 2016 and now that we know much more about the perils of turning our backs on Europe, especially in view of the climate crisis, I'm hoping the remain vote in a second referendum will be even higher.
What are your views on the construction of a third runway at Heathrow?
The Greens recognise that we can have NO new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or anywhere else, if we are to tackle the climate crisis. Aviation cannot be decarbonised and the only way to reduce emissions is to reduce flights. Airport expansion also increases road traffic and brings in its wake the destruction of homes, the loss of wildlife habitats, and terrible stress from aircraft noise for those living under flight paths. Here in Battersea I'm already directly under a flightpath and outdoors on a summer's day you often have to suspend conversation until a plane has passed. That only gives you a couple of mins to finish your sentence before the next one comes!
How would you tackle knife crime at a local level? Do school exclusion rates have a bearing on the problem in your opinion?
Our police need more resources and more person power whether it be for bobbies on the streets or backroom investigations to get to the bottom of the county lines crime gangs who exploit our children for drug running. Schools, also underfunded for too long, have an important part to play in providing support to youngsters and their parents before things get out of hand. Social workers who pick up the pieces and youth workers who help stop things falling apart in the first place are also part of the solution.
What are your views on A&E waiting times at St George’s hospital?
St George's suffers huge staff shortages, partly because of pay levels compared to the price of living in London, and partly because we have taken away nurses bursaries and who wants to come out qualified for low pay with a £50K debt? Not to mention the way we have treated our doctors who just give up and go elsewhere. The hospital also struggles with huge debts due to Private Funding Initiatives (PFI) and dozens of other challenges as the profit motive creeps into our NHS. The waiting times are frustrating - I've been there myself - but our wonderful NHS staff are doing the best they possibly can under very difficult circumstances and we will all pull through as long as we don't let the US medical industry in under some ghastly free trade agreement!
Do you think the borough needs more police patrolling the streets?
YES! see above on knife crime.
What is you stance on affordable and social housing in the borough and the reported shortfall in meeting the needs of first time buyers and residents in need of adequate accommodation?
Affordable isn't really affordable given that it is calculated as 80% of market rates and in this part of London that's a million pounds for a one-bedroom flat! We need to build the right kind of housing; good homes for the people who need it not luxury flats for property speculators. We also need to make renting more attractive with a gradual move towards controls on rent levels but mostly with greater security of tenure and a better standard of rental accommodation available.
How would you tackle the issue of overcrowding on local trains?
Return the railways fully to public ownership and invest the profits now going into shareholders' pockets into more carriages, more trains and more staff to look after and drive them. We'll need them when we've knocked the head on airport expansion!
How would you help residents adjust to the proposed splitting of the borough in two when the ULEZ extension comes into place?
Extend the ULEZ - we all need to breath and we all need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Time is running out on the chance to end climate chaos - everywhere needs to be a low emission zone!
Marsha de Cordova became the MP for Battersea in 2017 and is the Shadow Minister for Disabled People.
Marsha de Cordova, Labour
She previously worked in the charity sector campaigning on social security, and is a trade unionist and a member of Unite the Union, where she represented disabled workers on the London and Eastern Regional Committee and the National Disabled Members Committee.
She is campaigning for a final say on Brexit and to remain in the EU, as well as a Green New Deal, genuinely affordable homes in Battersea, tackling youth violence through a fully funded National Youth Service, more police on the streets, and to end the privatisation of the NHS.
She has not responded as yet to the questions we set about local issues.
Jake Thomas, Brexit Party
Jake Thomas is the Brexit Party candidate for Battersea. He grew up on a council estate in Pimlico and left school at sixteen to start a trade apprenticeship at a museum and shopfitting contractor based on the Wandsworth Road in Vauxhall.
Now he lives in Battersea with his family. He says he decided to stand for the Brexit Party “because of his increasing concerns about the undemocratic way Parliament have dealt with the 2016 referendum.
“Democracy is the foundation upon which this great country has evolved, where the old, poor and disabled have equal rights. We are all equal under our Great British Democracy and cannot allow the elitist in Parliament to undermine the people’s sovereignty.”
Kim Caddy, Conservative
Kim Caddy is a councillor in Southfields and Cabinet Member for Housing at Wandsworth Council. She is also a school governor and trustee for a local charity.
Previously she worked in the engineering and healthcare sectors, and is a qualified chartered accountant.
She is campaigning to tackle homelessness by building new homes for low and average earners on council land, protecting existing bus routes and campaigning for more trains from Battersea Park Station. She also backs supporting plastic-free initiatives and community clean-ups, improving broadband connection and increasing police presence on local neighbourhood streets.
She has not responded yet to our Q&A.
Mark Gitsham, Liberal Democrat
Mark Gitsham moved to London in 2011, and spent a number of years living and working in Europe, in Ireland, Greece and Cyprus.
He works as a manager in the events industry, and even worked on the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. Before that he worked as a consultant supporting homeless people and young offenders.
He is fighting to stop Brexit, to tackle the climate emergency, build enough high quality council housing, a joined up policy against knife crime, and improve funding for schools, the NHS and mental health.
The general election is due to take place on 12 December.
Written with contributions from Sian Bayley, Local Democracy reporter