Ken Livingstone: I would hold referendum on south Croydon joining Surrey
KEN Livingstone has vowed to let the south of the borough of Croydon break free from London and join Surrey.
Labour's mayoral candidate told the Advertiser he would give the green light to a referendum if there was demand for it.
He said: "If people in southern Croydon want a referendum on going back to Surrey, I wouldn't stand in their way."
Mr Livingstone hinted that a poll was long overdue as "there wasn't a democratic vote" when the south of the borough joined London in 1965, but the idea is likely to divide voters.
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Mr Livingstone, mayor from 2000 to 2008, added: "Before the then Tory government made these changes, Croydon really stopped at New Addington. If people really hate that and they wanted to go back to Surrey I don't think I would send in troops to shoot them.
"All I say is 'look, you might be on the edge of it, but you are part of the greatest city in the world, which under my leadership will once again soar in magnificence and splendour; would you really not want to be a part of that?'"
Dropping the southern third of Croydon would be beneficial for Mr Livingstone as voting trends show it is a Tory stronghold.
Last month, a poll conducted by the Advertiser found 62 per cent of people living in Purley, Kenley, Coulsdon and Sanderstead preferred to say they live in Surrey, rather than Croydon or London.
East Coulsdon Residents' Association chairman Charles King said: "Moving us from Croydon to Surrey might sound attractive at first call, but on reflection do our senior citizens want to lose their Freedom Pass, the most generous pensioner pass in Britain?"
However, Purley and Woodcote Residents' Association chairman Tarsem Flora said being part of Croydon put pressure on the south to urbanise. He added: "I think certainly in Purley a lot of people would prefer to be in Surrey.
"It is something that needs to be sorted out because people raise questions about it, but a referendum might be going too far."