Out of the EU and back on track


By - Wednesday 16th March, 2016

The Citizen’s EU referendum coverage begins with Michael Swadling presenting a case for ‘Crexit’


The EU referendum campaign has started. This represents a huge opportunity for the people of Britain to regain control of our democracy and leave the EU. I am campaigning for Britain to set itself free from the burden of EU membership and as a life-long resident of Croydon, I look forward to the benefits that this will bring.

The referendum campaign will be fought on many issues, but the two I hear most often when out campaigning in Croydon are trade and immigration. I set out below what I believe leaving the EU will mean for our great town.

Trade

Since 1276, when Surrey Street Market was granted a charter, Croydon has been a trading town. Our town was at the centre of the growth of railways, a major manufacturing hub, and the site for London’s first airport. In more recent times we have been a centre for the service economy, and today we are fast becoming a tech city.

From centuries at the cutting edge of development, we are now restricted to trading with the low-growth economies of Europe. Of the 100 fastest growing economies in the world in 2014, only four (including the UK) were from Europe, with none in the top 75. Croydon, a town which has kept itself at the edge of modern business development is now locked into trading with the stagnant economies of France and Spain, when trade deals with India, China and the fast growing economies of Africa are where the future of world trade lies. Amy Johnson famously took off from Croydon Airport to fly to Australia, but today when information travels around the world in seconds, Croydon is restricted to a trade zone ending in Greece.

Leaving the EU will free Croydon’s vibrant communities to take advantage of a more globally-focused Britain

The 2011 census showed Black Caribbean (8.6%) as the second-largest ethnic group in Croydon, and Indian (6.8%) as the third largest group. Leaving the EU will free these vibrant communities to take advantage of a more globally-focused Britain, which can only be of benefit to Croydon.

Croydon has for many years been a centre for financial services jobs, offering a ‘back office’ expertise to the city. Today we are developing into a technology hub, working closely with technology centres in India and the United States. A Croydon free to trade with these countries will once again develop its town centre, with offices working with others across the world. And, of course, providing well-paying and inspiring jobs.

Immigration

Housing, schools and immigration are among the leading concerns in a survey of the people of Croydon. All three are linked to each other, and to our membership of the EU.

The average house price in Croydon at the end of 2015 was £329,429, compared to £283,704 a year earlier according to Halifax. These prices are simply unaffordable to many long-term Croydon residents, and rents continue to grow at a similar pace.

These prices are a result of simple supply versus demand. We have two choices to bring prices to a more reasonable level. We can increase supply by continuing to build more or convert more homes into flats, as we have seen in the town centre and throughout the north of the borough, and by radically changing the character of areas with new mass developments, as the council is planning in Shirley.

Alternatively, we can reduce demand.

The EU’s free movement of people means that the UK is growing by almost a new Croydon every year

Whilst many factors impact demand on housing in Croydon, immigration is the single biggest. The UK Net Migration figures show 323,000 additional people in the past year, or a number almost the size of the borough of Croydon. This is not even the record number, with the EU’s free movement of people meaning that the UK is growing by almost a new Croydon every year. Is it any wonder that young adults are living at home longer with their parents and having to look further afield for their own homes?

The cost of property is not the only impact from the large numbers of people coming into Croydon. I have been a school governor in the borough for the past ten years. In recent years primary schools in Croydon have had to expand into temporary sites at short notice. Real choice of schools has been denied to many families as all schools are at capacity. Education leaders who should be focused on enhancing the life choices of the children of Croydon are instead focused on portable cabins.

Croydon’s schools have many years’ experience in teaching children who have limited English skills. Traditionally English as an additional language (EAD) education has been a specialist discipline in most Croydon schools. In recent years this has changed, with many staff teaching classes where EAD learners are the norm. Schools are right to focus on the basic skills of all children, but classes of thirty pupils where the majority have limited English skills are simply not capable of delivering the educational opportunities that we all want for the next generation.

A post-EU Croydon would become closer as one borough

At a community level, Croydon is a town divided, where the difference between the north and south of the borough has never been greater. Compare travelling south or north from the high street, and you are travelling in what feels like two different places. Election results show a town divided and living often in very separate communities. As someone whose family has lived for generations from Norbury to Coulsdon, I want a Croydon of stable communities living together as one.

A post-EU Croydon could build a steady stock of replacement homes, rather than race to catch up with demand. It would have schools focused on improving skills rather than building new classrooms. Most importantly, a post-EU Croydon would become closer as one borough rather than two increasingly disparate districts in one town.

Michael Swadling

Michael Swadling

Michael works in the IT Industry for and has lived in Croydon all of his life. He has been a governor in local schools for over twelve years. During the referendum he was the Croydon Area Manager for Vote Leave, Now promoting Classical Liberalism and Freedom. Visit Croydon Constitutionalist for events and articles on Classical Liberalism in our area http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/. Former UKIP candidate for Croydon North and Croydon Council.

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  • Y Bachgen

    I assume this is a clever parody

  • Anne Giles

    Staying in the EU does not mean a completely free movement of people at all. Immigration would be controlled.

    • Michael Swadling

      Immigration can’t be controlled inside the EU they even say so themselves:
      Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the Court of Justice.

  • http://www.thegreenstoryteller.com Charles Barber

    Where exactly does it say in the EU rules that we can’t trade with other countries outside the EU. The fact that we haven’t done so as successfully as Germany is nothing to do with the EU. Yes, there is a problem with London and the SE becoming overcrowded, but the free movement of Europeans has been shown to be a net earner for our economy. If we really wish to thrive in the modern world we have to be more adaptable, and not think we can turn the clocks back to some golden age that never really existed.

    • Michael Swadling

      Of course we can trade outside the EU but we can’t make trade deals with the fastest growing economies in the world unless we leave the EU.

      Overcrowding is a real problem for people trying to afford a home and for out public services.

      Lots of reports say migration costs the country, lots say it benefits. If you’re a worker whose salary is depressed by competition from migrants, rent keeps going up and children can’t get into local schools a small chance in the GDP figure doesn’t mean a lot to you.

      • http://www.thegreenstoryteller.com Charles Barber

        It is just not true that individual countries can’t sign trade agreements with other countries outside the EU. 5 minutes research on the web will demonstrate this but here is one example – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-07-16/china-germany-sign-10-agreements-on-trade-relations-during-merkel-visit .

        Even Norway and Switzerland abide by the principles of free movement of labour that EU states comply with, because they recognize it is good for their economies. To some extent the current imbalance of our population in London and the SE compared to other parts of the UK is more to do with our own government’s policies, that seem to merely consist of promises for investment in the regions without any actual useful funding. It is far too east to make the EU the scapegoat for our own government’s ineptitude.

        • Michael Swadling

          Your right we can do a deal we can’t (and I meant) sign a trade agreement.

          Norway and Switzerland are free (unlike the UK) to agree the terms they want with the EU. If they accept free moment well that’s up to them. Once we vote to leave I suspect we won’t.

  • Reena

    Oh yes, we EU migrants are pushing house prices up, and not all those buy-to-let landlords. You forgot to mention that we also drain the NHS and complain about the weather.

    • Michael Swadling

      This is simple supply and demand we have more people wanting homes. Unless we have a lot more homes prices go up. It’s basic economics. As I have said we could build a lot more homes, but few people want that.

      • Reena

        It’s funny because there’s another article here by Johnny praising Croydon’s towers and new buildings. Are you sure you’re not the minority here?

        • Michael Swadling

          I think I am in the minority, I think we need more building.

          This artical covers it well most people don’t want new developments (well not near them)
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30776306

          My point for house prices is simple, either you increase supply or have less demand. If we have lots of people coming into the country you build more homes or see prices go up and up.

          • Reena

            In the case of Croydon I wouldn’t be too fast blaming immigrants for the lack of housing. Londoners moving to Croydon because it’s still affordable (we have lost track of the number of friends that have arrived here from Clapham) and people buying just to rent because of the former.

          • Reena

            And do you think Boxpark and Westfield will help?

          • Michael Swadling

            I’m sure you don’t like me using / mentioning immigrants. However that doesn’t change the fact we have one London. Lots of people moving here and we are not able by European law to control those numbers (well up to the population of the EU). more people coming in house prices grow..

          • Reena

            Immigration control for everyone, Michael. I really want the UK to get out of the EU now so all those retired Brits in my hometown (Gran Canaria) stop sucking from our great healthcare without even bothering to learn how to speak Spanish.

          • Michael Swadling

            If by that you mean Spain should set its own immigration policy, I couldn’t agree more (alas not allowed in the EU). I also think Spain should set its own fiscal and monetary policy but it can’t do that whilst inside the Euro.

          • Reena

            You’re wrong here. If the UK limits immigration, reciprocity applies. Brits living abroad would need to come back.

          • Michael Swadling

            No have to say you’re wrong on where we are today. The EU rules mean both counties can’t control their own immigration policies. Yes I hope the UK leaves and then can make its own policy. I also think the Spaish people should chose to leave. If they do and what immigration or other policies they then set would be up to them.