Thursday, 14 May 2009

Question 4: Serving all income brackets in Princes Ward

Nine days ago (before we even knew who all the candidates in the Princes Ward by-election would be), I sent out a series of questions, to be answered by all Princes Ward Council candidates. The questions and answers are intended to help SE11 voters choose who to vote for by ensuring the candidates speak about their policies, rather than focusing on name calling campaigns.

I now have nearly all responses (English Democrat has promised his are to come) and now intend to publish the results one question at a time. Anything in square brackets or in bold, I've added to standarise the format of responses across the parties or as summaries. I've not changed any of the text that I was sent by email, but I've had to move certain answers across to different questions in order to keep the answers similar (I've indicated in all cases where I've made any adjustments, so tell me if you object). I'll probably save my personal comments for a post at a later stage as I want these questions to represent the candidates as best possible. I've put responses in alphabetical order, depending on the name of the party, and I've colour coded them for your ease:

Conservative = Michael Poole-Wilson = Blue
English Democrats = Janus Polenceus = Purple
Green Party = Joseph Healy = Green
Labour = Mark Harrison = Red
Lib Dem = John Roberts = Orange

Question 4:
How will you demonstrate that you intend to serve those of low, modest and high income in Prince's ward?

Michael Poole-Wilson:
* Low and modest income residents can be helped by forcing Lambeth to think again on rises in social housing rents and excessive housing charges, and by campaigning for the abolition of income tax on savings for basic rate taxpayers.

* High income residents, like everyone else, want the basics done well - among other things, that means real progress in educational provision, clean streets, and properly managed green spaces.

Janus Polenceus:
I will serve everyone equally, but most of all I would focus on those who are more in need or at a disadvantage.

Joseph Healy:
* My priority is those on low and moderate incomes. I think those on high incomes have the wherewithal to access a lot of services etc. However, I would be an honest and approachable representative and would oppose planning applications etc, which I did not deem appropriate for the ward.

* For those on low and moderate incomes, I would try and ensure that the Council does more on actual job creation and debt counselling than at present. The Green Party's policy of free home insulation, which has been carried out in Kirklees, Yorkshire, would also lift many poorer residents, particularly pensioners, out of fuel poverty and give them a better quality of life, as well as helping the environment.

Mark Harrison:
* Labour is the party of equality, and as a Labour supporter I'm committed to representing all residents, no matter what their income.

* Currently I'm particularly concerned that this year's rent increase is hitting working people and pensioners on low incomes particularly hard. That's why I'm working with Kate Hoey and councillors to lobby central government for funding to reduce the increase. I personally live on a housing estate, and it's undeniable that we face some of our most serious issues on estates. I'm committed to working hard for people on our estates. However, I intend to work hard on behalf of all residents of Prince's ward.

* People on high incomes in street properties pay most for Lambeth's services, and it's right that they get value-for-money and high-quality services,including waste collection, streets, schools and libraries.

John Roberts:
* Low income –The local Lib Dems helped the campaign to stop the Lambeth Walk Post Office on Vauxhall Street from closure last year, as local financial services provided by the post office are especially important for those on low incomes, and our Parliamentary Campaigner, Caroline Pidgeon handed in a petition to keep it open to Post Office HQ. The Liberal Democrat Group is fully committed to supporting the Lambeth Savings and Credit Union as it offers an affordable way for people on low incomes to get loans and thereby protects them from loan sharks but the only problem is at the moment you have to go down to Brixton Hill to use its services – I would like to see the council working with it to try and find a base in the Kennington area as well for local financial advice surgeries.

* Modest income – I will work hard to keep the council tax down so people on modest incomes and just above the benefits line do not get a rough deal. I also fully support the new campaign launched by London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon to help get cheaper bus travel by allowing Oyster card users to travel for an hour on different London buses without paying for an extra journey – details at

* High income – no matter what their personal wealth, all local residents have a right to expect their local councillors to help them if they have a problem, so no matter how rich or poor you are I will do my best to help you!

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