“I want to make Croydon an area to be proud of”: interview with Peter Staveley, UKIP’s candidate for the London Assembly

By - Thursday 24th March, 2016

Andrew Hamilton-Thomas talks to UKIP’s local candidate for May’s London Assembly election

Photo by Peter Staveley, used with permission.

Tell me a bit about yourself; what makes you passionate, and why you want to represent UKIP as the Croydon and Sutton representative on the London Assembly?

I got into politics initially because I discovered that the UK was paying a large amount of money every year (currently around £20 billion gross, £10 billion net) just to belong to the political construct that is the EU, which I felt could be better spent at home. I then discovered that most of the EU laws are made in secret and that the MEPs have fewer powers than peers in the House of Lords, yet most of those laws affect people in Croydon.

I am a passionate supporter of devolving democracy to the lowest practical level, including having national and local referendums on important issues, as is currently done in Switzerland.

It is clear to me that in Croydon Council, both the recent Labour and current Conservative administrations have more interest in arguing with each other and walking out of meetings than in deciding how to improve the lives of the citizens of Croydon.

I want to see Croydon improve and make it an area for me to be proud of, rather than the current situation where it is often used as the butt of jokes.

What kinds of issues do you come across when canvassing the residents of Croydon and Sutton, and what’s their perception of UKIP as a whole?

The main issues are the, high cost of housing, lack of places in local schools, and problems in the National Health Service in Croydon.

These are all symptoms of the rising population in London and Croydon, plus the fact that there was little planning or preparation done by the established parties to cater for the increased population.

What UKIP is finding in Croydon and Sutton is that voters recognise that many of these issues were caused by the policies of the EU and they see that UKIP is the only party that is prepared to explain this and to challenge the established Political Class.

London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the UK and Croydon is a true reflection of that. UKIP has a stigma of being anti-immigration, and Winston McKenzie’s high-profile exit from the party on the grounds of racism appeared to support what most of London ethnic minorities where already thinking. What’s your response to that?

UKIP used to be seen as being anti-immigration because talking about the need for controlled immigration was perceived to mean that UKIP are against immigration. It was also thought that talking about immigration was itself being racist.

UKIP loves people from every racial origin, is pro-immigration, and is non-discriminatory. However, the current system of immigration controls is highly discriminatory. Why are people from inside the EU treated differently to those from outside the EU (particularly from the Commonwealth)? We should have an Australian-style points-based system so that we can treat everyone equally. We could then decide which skills we need and what number of people we could accommodate.

Transport is a major issue for Londoners, and you claim a lot of experience in this area. How do plan on using it if you’re elected as the UKIP representative for Croydon and Sutton on the London Assembly?

I have worked in transport all my life. I initially worked for British Rail then, in 1989, I became a transport consultant. I have been involved in practically every major transport project in London, including working with the London Assembly during the creation of the London Overground.

I will campaign for devolution of responsibility for National Rail services within Greater London to the Mayor through TfL. I feel that putting the local railway service in Croydon under the direct control of the Mayor will improve its performance.

In addition, I think that the capacity of the Croydon Tramlink system needs to be increased by providing longer trams and perhaps extensions to Sutton and Crystal Palace. I feel that the Dingwall Road loop is a waste of money and will not increase capacity, or even be useful to passengers.

I want to ensure that TfL funding for transport projects in Croydon is used to achieve real improvements to Croydon.

What other campaigns are you working on?

I oppose building on green space, Metropolitan Open Land or the Metropolitan Green Belt. The details shown in the proposed Croydon Local Plan to build on green space will be bad for Croydon. I want to ensure that new housing is only permitted on brownfield sites.

A major issue affecting both Croydon and Sutton is the Beddington incinerator. The more we dig-down into the details, the worse it gets. In addition to questions about whether: it is the best method of refuse disposal; the additional road traffic it creates; and how it will worsen the air quality over Croydon and Sutton, there appears for be issues about how the associated Community Heat part of the scheme will work and there are questions about the involvement of certain politicians in agreeing to the scheme. I want to investigate all this.

Any closing statements?

At national, regional and local levels over the last sixteen years, we have experienced Labour, Conservative and Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition administrations. What all these organisations have in common is that career politicians run them. Career politicians from the established parties who appear to be more interested in furthering their political career than in what matters to the people of Croydon.

We have seen the trust in politicians (both local and national) reach an all-time low. Why? Because they are all the same; they say one thing in order to get elected and then, once in power, do another.

UKIP is different. We have all got experience of the real world, mainly in business, and we are not career politicians. Apart from restoring faith in our political leaders, I want to return democracy to the people, introduce direct democracy through local referendums, and back fairness for all.

Andrew is speaking to all of the candidates for Croydon and Sutton’s seat in the London Assembly, as well as the frontrunning candidates for Mayor of London. Read all of his articles here.

Andrew Hamilton-Thomas

Andrew Hamilton-Thomas

Andrew is a BA Hons graduate in Politics with Media and Culture studies from Kingston University with a strong interest in current affairs and the media. As well as being politically active in Croydon North Labour Party, he is also a regular contributor to the online current affairs magazine, The Orator and a regular feature writer for Premier Christian Media Trust. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMaurice7

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  • Anne Giles

    From my own point of view, it is important to stay in the EU. When we go to Spain we receive medical treatment free. Travel insurance does not work for us because we already have our own medical issues. which insurance companies object to.