Friday, 26 June 2009

Nonsuch Byelection - Meet The Candidates (Part 2)

Ahead of Thursday's council by-election in Nonsuch Ward, the Worcester Park Blog questions the main candidates about key issues affecting the area and asks how they would seek to improve the lives of local people.

Today, Liberal Democrat candidate Gerry Jerome tells the Worcester Park Blog why he believes he is the right man for the job.

WPB: Tell us briefly about yourself, your connections with Worcester Park and what motivated you to stand in the byelection.

GJ: I’ve lived in Worcester Park with my wife Kirsty since 1986; I got married here and raised my 3 children here - it’s that local experience that has persuaded me to stand for election for this area.

My children have all been educated in the local schools, right from Scallywags playgroup in Cuddington Rec through to secondary school.

I worked as a Civil Servant and as a self-employed contractor before setting up my own Information Technology consultancy in 2000.

As a Director of my own successful IT company, I’m used to getting things done, taking tough decisions, and delivering on my promises.

I have previously had the privilege to serve as a Councillor on Sutton Council for 8 years, so I know what it takes; there is a huge amount of work expected both in council and in the ward to ensure the voices of residents are heard and their views listened to.

WPB: The dilapidated building at the Queen Victoria Crossroads is an eyesore creates a terrible impression of North Cheam. What action would you take to ensure that something is done about this?

GB: This is a problematic site. It is currently owned by a private developer who has planning permission to refurbish it, but who has been hit by the recession.

I will continue to press the Council to investigate ways to help the developer to do something positive with the site.

I have met with Council officers and as a result they are in the process of starting prosecution of the developer for not keeping the site clear of fly-tipping. Arrangements have been made to install CCTV coverage of the site which should either deter potential tippers or catch them in the act. I would urge anyone who sees fly-tipping to contact me.

WPB: Traffic congestion is a real concern for anyone who lives in or around the Worcester Park area. What do you think the solution is, and what would you do, if elected, to ensure this problem is addressed?

GB: It is a complex problem that will not be resolved easily. I remember Central Road being a bottleneck when I first came to live in Worcester Park.

The problem extends beyond the railway bridge right up to the A3 and it has grown worse lately.

Linking the traffic lights will ameliorate the situation. This is why I have started a petition to Mayor Johnson to get Central Road moving. He is responsible for Transport for London. They put in trunking last December but we are still waiting for the lights to be linked.

An interesting idea worth investigating would be upgrading the part of Green Lanes leading into Merton so that it will take some of the traffic away from Central Road.

Mayor Johnson said that he felt that Outer London was neglected as far as traffic and parking were concerned when Ken Livingstone was Mayor. I would continue to press him to keep his promise to redress these problems.

WPB: Do you share the feeling of many locals that North Cheam and Worcester Park are forgotten outposts of Sutton? If so what would you do to ensure that greater attention and priority is given to these areas at council level?

GB: We have a new library in Worcester Park, a popular Waitrose in Stone Place, new play areas and refurbished play areas in Cuddington Rec and Fairlands Park, new fencing round Fairlands and Cuddington Rec.

Reluctant Mayor Johnson is being chased to resolve the chaos of parking and traffic in North Cheam and Worcester Park.

The Lib Dem administration is committed to keeping and maintaining swimming and leisure facilities at Cheam Baths until at least 2015 with plans to provide a bigger and more modern centre in this part of the borough without loss of those facilities for any period of time.

The Council is also dealing firmly with the developer of Queen Vic to ensure that it is clear of fly-tipping and at the same time showing understanding for his plight by helping him to find ways to develop the site.

The Cheam North and Worcester Park local committee has a budget to spend on works such as those carried out in Fairlands and Cuddington Rec. This is divided equally between various parts of the borough. There is excellent liaison between the Safer Neighbourhood Teams and the Councillors.

The parking problems in Senhouse Road has been resolved due to close co-operation between residents, local councillors and council officers.

Of course, much more has been done and there will always be more to do but the area is hardly the forgotten outposts of the borough. I will listen to the residents to ensure that our voices are heard.

WPB: Respect for politicians is at an all time low, as reflected in the dismal turnout for the recent Euro elections. Why does it matter that people vote in a council by-election?

GB: Many residents are disillusioned with politics, especially in the wake of the expenses scandal in Westminster.

It has stopped people talking about real politics and about what they want for their area. It is at this time that we really need to engage in politics; this is not the time to lose our voices.

This is why I am encouraging everyone to go out and vote on July 2nd.

WPB: Local traders are having a really tough time, with many going out of business leaving an increasing number of vacant shop units in the area. What can be done to help local traders in these difficult times?

GB: One thing we can all do in these difficult times is to think local when shopping. Without customers local businesses can’t survive.

Sutton Council have created a ten-point economic action plan to help local traders, details of which are on their website . This is a positive plan and will help businesses in the area in these difficult times.

Measures such as cutting the time for the Council to pay invoices to Sutton's small businesses from 30 to 10 days will help small firms improve cash flow.

WPB: Apart from the above issues, what are your top priorities, or the main issues that you want to tackle on behalf of local people?

GB: I will continue to campaign for a fairer deal for local children when it comes to schools. The Borough has some of the best schools in the country yet under the unfair selection process introduced under the Conservatives, many parents in the area do not have a choice as to where their children are educated.

I will continue to campaign to stop back garden development. I will fight to keep the green corridors at the back of our houses.