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Broad Green voters want more from their 'absent' politicians

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WITH the elections little more than a fortnight away, GARETH DAVIES discovers how voters in Broad Green - much like their surroundings - are feeling neglected and disillusioned... LOUIS Myer, 65, has lived in Dennett Road, in Broad Green, for 19 years. Next month, for the first time in his life, he does not intend to vote. "You just have to walk down the street to see why," he says, pointing at an overflowing bin bag left against a tree. "This road used to be very peaceful and clean, but now I hardly leave my house. "There's rubbish dumped everywhere. I've been here nearly 20 years and I haven't seen a politician lift a finger to do anything about it. "So regardless who I vote for, it won't make any difference. The place will still be a mess." Dennett Road is far from the only street in Croydon to have a problem with litter and fly-tipping, especially in the north of the borough. But, when the Advertiser canvassed residents on Monday, the problem was particularly apparent. A short distance from the bin bag another tree propped up a large pile of green waste. A little further on, a mattress poked out of the space between two houses. Along the road a large black barrel, full to the top with garbage, was sat on the pavement being used as a makeshift bin. On the other side of the road the contents of someone's wardrobe lay scattered in an alleyway. "It doesn't matter who you vote for because politicians around here don't really do anything," said Sabine, 31, a lifelong Labour voter. "This road is an absolute state. There's rubbish everywhere but the bins are only emptied once every two weeks, so by the end of the fortnight the whole place stinks. It's disgusting." Labour has made cleaning up Croydon a key part of its manifesto. The Conservatives don't have a manifesto, but have defended the council's record on fly-tipping. Not that politicians from any side could claim to know a great deal about the concerns of residents in Dennett Road, as none of those who spoke to the Advertiser had been canvassed so far this campaign. Labour councillor Stuart Collins said the party had to be realistic about where its resources are used. Having won all seats in Broad Green in 2010 with a large majority, and seen growing disaffection at the lack of change since the riots a year later, the party probably has good reason to think the ward won, but that has not prevented some voters from feeling let down. "The parties know what the result is going to be so they don't bother asking what we think," said Dennett Road resident Donald. "No one has knocked on my door. If they had, I would have told them they need to try and restore some of the values in our society. "I'm a person of the Sixties, where neighbours spoke to each other. You could see them cleaning their front yards and they said hello as you walked by. Those values are gone now. People keep to themselves. "What would help is if the council did more to protect local pubs, where people come together, get to know one another and build a bit of community spirit." "Politicians don't care," another resident said. "They just want us to put a mark on a piece of paper every four years. They're as indifferent as we are." Another resident told the Advertiser: "I'm not sure whether I'm going to vote. Whichever side I choose, they will probably just let me down. You see these politicians at election time and then they go missing for four years." Not everyone was so pessimistic. Mother-of-two Iram Faisal, 30, is hopeful whoever takes control of the council will expand the availability of faith schools in Croydon. "I would like to see a government-funded Islamic school," she said. "There are lots of Muslim schools in the area, but they are all private and the costs are very high. At the moment my children have to go to the mosque to learn about their religion and language, so we don't get to spend enough time with them." Like many people in Broad Green, father-of-three Matthew McLaughlan, 36, had hoped more would have changed in an area devastated by the rioting and looting in August 2011. Mayor of London Boris Johnson pledged £23 million following the disorder but, three years later, most of the council's plans for Broad Green remain on the drawing board. "I know it's not always easy, but everything seems to happen so slowly," said Mr McLaughlan adding that he intended to vote "even if it didn't make much of a difference". And that, for the most part, sums up Dennett Road's attitude towards the elections on May 22. Despite the general cynicism, most people said they intend to vote, even those who spent ten minutes describing how much of a waste of time it all is. That said, some people wrote the process off a long time ago. When our reporter said he was writing a story about local politics, one elderly woman practically spat on her own doorstep. "Bugger off," she barked. "They're a load of old crap."
THREE BIG ISSUES IN BROAD GREENRiot Recovery: Boris Johnson pledged £23 million to Croydon following the riots in August 2011. Nearly three years later, most of the plans for Broad Green, where dozens of people lost their homes and businesses, have yet to be realised, and a lot of the cash has been spent elsewhere in the borough. Royal Mansions, a block of flats burned down during the disorder, has yet to be rebuilt.Parking: Shopkeepers along London Road have long called for an extension to free parking to allow their businesses to compete with those in the town centre. There is also a need for additional spaces. The streets off London Road have the opposite problem in that spaces are being taken by non-residents. Several large housing developments are planned, but there are concerns about where people will park.Betting shops and fast loans: Enter Broad Green from the town centre end and the first thing you see is a garishly-coloured payday loans shop opposite a bookmakers. There are significant concerns about the proliferation of both types of businesses along London Road, but residents appear powerless to stop them. Changes are afoot, but as one QC put it after successfully defeating objections to a new Paddy Power: "The law comes pretty close to ignoring that there are large amounts of people who don't want a betting office in their area."
CANDIDATES: Nick Barnett, Green Party Stuart Collins, Labour Party Pravina Ellis, Labour Party Fabion Emmanuel, Conservative Party Ragesh Khakhira, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Sophie Khan, Conservative Party Peter Kirby, UKIP Peter Latham, Communist Party Herman Anthony Lyken, UKIP Paul McMillan, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Bimal Mohanan, Green Party Syed Mohiuddin, Liberal Democrats Mike Selva, Labour Party Manju Shahul-Hameed, Labour Party Andrew Stevensen, Conservative Party

Broad Green voters want more from their 'absent' politicians


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