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We put YOUR questions to Croydon South Tory hopeful Chris Philp

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LAST week, Chris Philp was chosen as the Conservative candidate for Croydon South at the 2015 General Election. As he got to know his new patch, Georgie Keate put your questions to a man who could be our next MP...

Q: You ran for the Hampstead seat in 2010 and for selection in Tonbridge three weeks ago. How can you convince voters you are not just a career politician?

A. I was brought up in West Wickham, so my roots are in south London. It's up to me over the coming weeks and years to demonstrate my commitment and hard work that I will get things done and stand up for people here. I will be doing it the hard way; knocking on doors and talking to people house by house.

I will also be holding a meeting in the Croydon Conservative Association office on December 7 at 1pm to meet resident group leaders and anyone who wants to come along.

Q. Croydon South is a safe Conservative seat. Will you put your constituency above Westminster?

A. It is an MPs ongoing commitment, and not just the duration of an election campaign, to be part of the furniture and to be accessible to local people. Picking up local issues and supporting local people will be my priority.

Q. Will you support local groups campaigning to keep community facilities like leisure centres and libraries when the council seeks to close them?

A. It is difficult to generalise but would I look at each issue properly. When these things come up, I want to understand the issue and talk to residents. If I felt the local authority, the London Assembly or the Government had got it wrong, I would actively advocate in support of whatever was the right thing for local residents.

For example, when I was a councillor in Camden, I successfully campaigned against the shutting down on police stations. That shows I am not afraid to get involved.

Q. Police stations have closed down all over Croydon South. There is now only one contact point left, open for only three hours a week. Will you put pressure on the mayor to have a police station in the south of the borough?

A. The deal in Croydon was the borough would get an extra 117 police officers in consideration of station cutbacks. We can look towards a creative solution and look to find places where the police can base themselves in the community.

I plan to meet with Steve O'Connell and Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing and crime, to explore whether it is possible to find a base in the south of the borough.

Q. What can you do to stop town centres and high streets like Purley and Selsdon dying?

A. It's a valid concern and definitely true. One thing we could do is give small businesses and independent shops more business rate relief.

All small shops pay pretty much same as big shops and shopkeepers will tell you the rates are a real killer.

If you can give them bigger relief, that would make their businesses more viable and fill up vacant properties.

Q. Do you support the loosening of restrictions for developing on green spaces and putting up private extensions?

A. The Government has delivered on promises to stop garden grabbing and I fully support that.

I do think the eight metre extension allowance is too much. It used to be three metres and probably needs looking at. I also think developing on brown field sites like Cane Hill is much better than on green spaces. It's very important to protect this area because it is what makes it so nice.

Every council has a five-year housing plan where they have to draw a map pinpointing which sites are suitable for development. If they do not have one, developers can exploit areas through the backdoor by going to the Planning Inspectorate for permission to build on a site. I will be watching Croydon Council's plan closely.

Q. What are your ambitions in Westminster?

A. This is not about identifying some job and wanting to be a minister; politics should be about getting something done. There are three things I want to achieve.

The first is making sure that children of all backgrounds, particularly those in the state sector, have the same opportunities as those who are better off. It is not the case at the moment and you shouldn't have to pay for a good education.

I was lucky, I went to a good state school, so I want to make sure all children have that opportunity.

Secondly, I want to make sure the NHS looks after us the way it should. I have two deep personal experiences – one bad when my father got MRSA, and one good, when my twins were born 25 weeks prematurely this year.

I want to make sure the problems at Croydon University Hospital are tackled and it is not ignored for years, like Mid-Staffordshire.

The third is the economy and jobs in the UK. I want to make sure Britain stays competitive globally and the next generation have jobs and opportunities.

We put YOUR questions to Croydon South Tory hopeful Chris Philp


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