Croydon North: Nine Eleven was an Inside Job's Simon Lane on "direct democracy"
THE Advertiser's public debate ahead of the Croydon North by-election featured candidates from six of the main parties. Here Simon Lane, candidate for the Nine Eleven was an Inside Job party, answers the same questions submitted by our readers.
Richard Atkins from South Norwood asked: "What would each candidate do to continue Malcolm Wicks' legacy?"
Simon Lane said: "When he first became an MP in 1992 Malcolm Wicks said in his maiden speech in the House of Commons that he saw his challenge as being to "bridge the gap between the pomp and circumstance of parliament and the poverty and pain in many of our communities".
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This is precisely what we stand for, connecting the people directly to the decision-making processes of Westminster.
In short we will set up a system whereby everyone on the electoral role in Croydon North will be able to directly engage in the democratic process in real time, using for example text messages, the Internet, sending in a postcard or visiting the constituency office to vote on anything you want me to do in my role as your member of Parliament.
Eileen Gale, Thornton Heath, and a number of other people asked: "What are your views on the proposed incinerator on the Croydon/Sutton border?"
SL: "On this issue I defer completely to the people of Croydon North. When elected I will set up a poll, as a priority, to gauge opinion in the constituency and act accordingly. Based on the views I have heard expressed thus far I would expect that many voters would like to express concerns over this. With my constituency office staff, we would collect the various opinions and present them on your behalf. My job with respect to this issue, and every other, will be to find out how voters feel and then act accordingly."
Steve Turner, of South Norwood, and Ryan Earle, from Thornton Heath, both asked: "What actions would you take to address high youth unemployment in Croydon North?"
SL: "I have real experience of creating jobs in London. I was the first to introduce cycle rickshaws, sometimes known as pedicabs, into the West End. I started doing this because I really enjoyed working as a pedicab rider myself, being self-employed, meeting people, keeping fit and having fun. At times there have been as many as one thousand pedicabs in London and I feel honoured to have been able to play my part in making this happen.
"That said, my main contribution to this and many other issues will most likely be to voice the concerns of many people I have met here who would rather avoid all the expensive military action we seem to so readily engage in abroad, freeing resources to spend at home. Billions have been spent, millions killed and little achieved. All these resources, both financial and human, could have been better deployed in this country, creating work and prosperity for all, especially young people.
Jonathan Cope, from South Norwood, asked: "What approach would you take to reducing crime in Croydon North?"
SL: "I see the answer to this question linking directly to the previous one. If we could reduce spending on things like foreign wars there would be a great deal more resources to help create wealth so people would be far less likely to engage in crime. Also, by encouraging people to engage in the community, taking part in the decision-making process, we would be able reduce the sense of disaffection which so often goes along with getting involved in criminal activity.
Liam Fretwell, from South Norwood asked: "What have you done, prior to this election, to help Croydon North and the people who live there?"
SL: "I recently moved to this constituency and have spent all my time here engaged in this election. That said I have already helped to create around one thousand jobs for people living all over London when I introduced the pedicabs to the West End in 1998."
Carole Horstead, of South Norwood, asked: "What will you do to address the shortage of school places in the north of the borough?
SL: "At the hustings event Carole Horstead explained that her main concern was a shortage of school places for disabled children. Clearly we all want to see more of our attention, financially and in general, ensuring that everyone gets the education they need, especially the disabled. By electing me the people of Croydon North will be able to ensure that we set our priorities as the people want, spending money improving people's lives rather than destroying them in senseless wars."
A number of audience members asked: "If you had control of the £23 million pledged to Croydon following last summer's riots, how would you spend the money?"
SL: "The real experts are the people who form the community itself. So let them put forward suggestions then let everyone in the constituency vote for which they want to see funded. It's the way I'll do everything - let the people decide."
Vipul Dudhaiy, of Norbury, asked: "What would the candidates do to improve Croydon's negative image problem?"
SL: "By opting for the kind of radical system of direct democracy I am proposing, Croydon North would be setting the trend, showing a way to do things better for the benefit of everyone in the constituency. This would give us the image of being cutting-edge; when everyone else decides to take this approach the whole world will know Croydon North was where it all started."
Anne Viney, of Norbury, asked: "If elected, what would you do to ensure young people growing up had a decent chance of owning a home in the area?"
SL: "There is so much damaged, derelict and sub-standard accommodation that could be improved to provide affordable housing for all those who need it. If the people had been making the decisions I am quite sure that we would have avoided getting involved in these senseless foreign wars. As your MP I will make sure that Parliament understands the priorities of the people who live in Croydon North, and it seems clear to me that these would include improving the homes of people here instead of bombing the homes of people abroad."
For coverage of the debate itself click here.