Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Worcester Park Ward By-election: Hilary Hosking - Labour Party

Ahead of the Worcester Park Ward council by-election on Thursday 16th February, the Worcester Park Blog profiles the candidates and their views and policies on key issues affecting the local area.

The Labour Party - Hilary Hosking                                                 

Hilary Hosking is the only candidate who lives in Worcester Park Ward (and therefore the only candidate who can vote for themselves in this election).

She lives in Longfellow Road and has lived there for 23 years. She not only can express an opinion on parking and traffic, but actually experiences it day and night.

She has stood for local election in the area in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010, so has knocked on doors and delivered leaflets across the area over the years.

Supporting local shops and businesses

The Worcester Park Blog does a great job in letting residents know about new businesses and changes on Central Road. I use the shops all the time and know some of the shopkeepers. In the end the role of a Councillor is to advocate for the shops and say “use it or lose it”.

I will work with local traders to continue the regeneration of the Worcester Park shopping area at a time of recession looking at new events and activities that might draw shoppers to the area, perhaps with deals for Oyster Card holders to minimise the traffic impact I will also seek to encourage the improvement in the presentation and activity of local charity shops so that Worcester Park develops a unique ‘not for profit’ ‘Worcester Park Village’ retail offer that encourages more people to shop there. In view of the ward boundaries I will apply the same approach to North Cheam too.

Crime & Policing

Boris must reverse his reduction of Sutton Police by 14 Police officers. He should abandon his plans to force 600 London police sergeants to reapply for their own jobs and drop his plan to cut 300 sergeants from London’s 630 safer neighbourhood teams. This will affect Sutton and Worcester Park too.

The Conservative Mayor of London has now admitted that not only he has put up fares, he has cut police numbers too. The latest figures from the police had already confirmed that Boris Johnson has cut 1,782 police officers in the last 18 months.

However he has recently admitted that 1,700 police have been cut from Scotland Yard in the last
two years.

At the same time figures show during the last year violent crimes have risen including: knife crime (up 13%), robbery (up 13%), rape (up 10.6%) homicide (up 7.6%) and muggings have gone up by 15% in the last year.

In March 2010 there were 33,260 police officers in London .By October 2011 there were just 31,478 police officers in London.  In a recent exchange with host Nick Ferrari, Boris Johnson told LBC 97.3:

Nick Ferrari: "You're down 1,700 in the last two years?"
Boris Johnson: "Numbers go up and down they naturally fluctuate as officers retire."
Nick Ferrari: "By 1,700?
Boris Johnson: "Yes..."


I was shocked to read about Sutton Council’s Chief Executive pushing for a change in Government policy to increase class sizes above thirty. It is appalling that a Liberal Democrat would seek to end the class size maximum brought in by Labour. They then claimed it was the Chief Executive acting on their own initiative. If that is the case, who is in charge, the elected politicians or their appointed officers?

We need to tackle the need for extra school places at Cheam Common Infants and Juniors with a flexible one-off extra ‘bulge’ class for the year in question rather than increase class sizes to 32 or permanently expand the schools. This benefits parents, does not damage children’s education and is also fair to local residents living near the school


I live in Longfellow Road so I see the problems every day. The reality is that we have a bottleneck at the Railway Bridge in Central Road exacerbated by the amount of traffic coming out of newer developments in Green Lane. I invited Ken Livingstone to visit the area recently to look at the issue.

In the short-term we need to continually review traffic management in order to reduce traffic jams and cut through traffic and identify small gains that improve parking for residents locally.

In the longer term we need to get Sutton, Merton and Kingston Council’s to agree a traffic management and a planning policy for the roads and the land north of Green Lane and Mayflower Park that might eventually lead to consultation over a second crossing over the railway line which might not be considered until the future of the Gas Works site is resolved. In other words this issue cannot be completely resolved by one borough and should be addressed by Councillors and Councils in the three boroughs.

Local Health Services

The future of our local Health Services will not be resolved until the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition Government drop the NHS Bill. The ability to do this is in our own hands locally and the by-election can send a message about it. Authoritative commentator Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the Observer on Sunday:

"The government might not be in such a miserable hole if anyone at a senior level had conducted a political risk-assessment right at the very beginning before Mr Lansley first sprang his scheme on an unprepared world. This has always struck me as one of the most remarkable aspects of the saga. At a time when it was already embarking on ambitious reform of welfare and education, imposing an unprecedented spending squeeze and trying to manage a novel coalition, no one at the top of government seems to have asked whether it was sensible to add a massive reorganisation of the NHS that no one fully understood except its author, who was himself incapable of explaining it to anyone else."

So where was Lansley’s Deputy, Paul Burstow, when all this was happening? In the end Paul Burstow needs to say where he stands over the NHS Bill and whether he will support the release of the Risk Register?

I want to see more GP provision in the North-West of the Borough covering Worcester Park. The Malden Road Baths Leisure facility has some run-down health buildings at the back of it and local residents could campaign for a mixed development with a proper Local Care Centre combined with a Leisure Centre on that site.

I am not convinced the current South West London review of Acute Hospital Services will secure a 25% shift in services away from hospitals. There are still many one-person operated GP practices for a start. We therefore need a more accountability to the public of local GP’s if they are going to decide where current hospital services are going to be commissioned from.

Council Tax and Service Cuts

The Liberal Democrats enabled the existence of a Conservative Government. We are now reaping
some of impact of their decision. Many people have said to me they are very shocked and sad that
they voted Liberal Democrat to keep the Tories out and instead got the Tories anyway. We now
see the results in terms of cuts and the appalling NHS Bill.

As a Councillor I would have to represent Worcester Park but also be aware of local services across
the borough too. As a result I am:

•  Opposed to the cuts to older people’s services such as the closure of Oakleigh and
Gaynesford Lodge

• Support Ken Livingstone's campaign to reverse Boris Johnson's fare rises and to cut fares by over £1000 over a 4 year period for Worcester Park commuters

• Opposed to the Conservative Mayor of London’s closure of Wallington Police Station & the halving of 18 Police Sergeants in Sutton who lead on local Neighbourhood Policing. Worcester Park will have to share a local Police Sergeant and local Police knowledge is being lost

• Against the Council's proposal to increase school class sizes. This will damage children’s education and increase traffic locally.

• Opposed to the loss of Sutton Magistrates Court which local Liberal Democrat MPs had pledged to keep open. That pledge like their opposition to tuition fees increases was broken within a year.

• Seriously concerned that supposedly ‘green’ Sutton Council is proposing to build an Incinerator in the east of the borough. Even the Liberal Democrat London Mayoral candidate, who is trailing a poor third in the polls, is opposed. It’s easy for him though, he won’t have to implement it.

Labour Councillors in the past in Sutton argued for very small increases in Council Tax over and above Liberal Democrat policies. The Government money to freeze the Council Tax has been welcome, but does not make up for the cuts that have occurred. The Liberal Democrats say they have kept the libraries open, but that is a relatively small budget compared to the cuts they are making to older people’s services.