Croydon questions: Abigail Lock, Liberal Democrats

Abigail Lock is a former Sutton councillor who is the Liberal Democrats’ candidate for our area at the London Assembly in the elections on May 3. In the latest in our series, she answers Inside Croydon’s questionnaire

We have circulated all candidates and we will be publishing their responses in full, unedited, and without the artifice, interruptions and grandstanding of the usual hustings. We think you’ll find it very revealing.

Abigail Lock, Liberal Democrats

Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you grew up and went to school and university, your work and family?

Abigail Lock, the LibDems' candidate for the London Assembly in Sutton and Croydon

I was born and brought up in Sutton where I still live. My parents were both in the police. I went to Greenacre School in Banstead. After leaving school I worked for Paul Burstow, Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam. I then went to university at Exeter where I studied Politics and later I went on to gain a MSc from the London School of Economics.

I work for a company which specialises in social housing maintenance and home care services.

When you were elected as councillor in 2006, you were the youngest person on Sutton Council. How did you become so involved in politics so young?

None of my family are particularly interested in politics but I grew up as a child carer looking after my father who had MS. My mum and I had very little support and I thought the system must be broken. I wanted to do something to make it better so that is why I became involved in politics.

What are your interests outside politics?

I love world travel and am a keen adventurer. I am really lucky to have a great set of friends, so when I am not out campaigning or meeting residents, I try to spend as much time with them as possible. I also love swimming and reading.

Who would you describe as the biggest influences on your life and your political outlook?

Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist in America. In 1955, she refused to obey a bus drivers order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. I hope that I would have the courage and integrity to always stand up, or in the case of Rosa Parks, sit down for what I believe.

Nick or Vince?

Lucky for me my party has both so I don’t have to choose!

What is your favourite part of Croydon?

Happy Valley.

How would you categorise the differences between Sutton and Croydon?

The London Borough of Sutton has one of the lowest crime rates in London, the highest rates of achievements in schools, some of the best recycling rates in the country and Sutton has recently been highlighted as one of the ten best places for small businesses in the whole country. This is not a matter of luck – it is the result of hard work and dedication by the local Council which has been run by Liberal Democrats for 26 years and its two LibDem MPs.

Croydon is only down the road from Sutton – why does it have to be so different? The Conservatives and Labour have let the people of Croydon down. You only have to look at last summer’s riots, the increase in crime, the borough’s poor environmental record and the shortfall in housing.

I am appalled by the cuts that Croydon Council has made to the voluntary sector over the last few years. I believe this will have a real impact on local residents and the services they need and deserve. In these difficult financial times, we need to support and develop our voluntary and community groups, not reduce their funding and threaten their very existence

What were you proudest achievements on Sutton Council?

As chair of one of Sutton’s Local Committees I worked hard to truly involve residents, listening to them about their priorities. I found that it was often the small things that made a real difference to people’s day to day lives so I delivered a programme of area improvements that have been really appreciated by local residents.

Abigail Lock with the Carshalton and Wallington MP, Tom Brake. She says that LibDem-controlled Sutton has delivered better results than Croydon Council

In Sutton our local committees have devolved budgets meaning I had the ability to drive through local objectives. As chair among other things I oversaw the installation of equipment in three new playgrounds, new community notice boards, tennis courts, a programme of flower planting, a wild flower habitat, Christmas lights, improved lighting for alleyways and new fencing to our parks. These weren’t personal vanity projects but each one demonstrated that I listened to residents and acted on what they wanted.

What would your employment experience bring to the job of Assembly Member?

I work in the social housing sector and on issues affecting older and disabled people. These are all areas that I feel passionate about and as an Assembly Member I would champion these agendas.

But in addition to this, just by having a full-time job which requires me to commute into town, I understand the frustrations that many fellow residents have caused by the over crowded and very expensive transport network. I would use these realities to campaign for improvements.

Rents go ever upwards. What would be your solution to London’s housing problems? How might that work specifically in Croydon and Sutton?

We need more homes; homes that residents of Croydon and Sutton can afford.

Liberal Democrats plan to build 360,000 homes across London over a decade and will create a new “living rent” standard, so that Londoners’ rent costs should aspire to be no more than one-third of their take home pay.

We will create an extra 40,000 homes in the spaces above shops and bring 50,000 currently empty homes back into use.

Liberal Democrats are also committed to helping private renters and we will crack down on rogue landlords through the effective registration of private landlords, using local authorities’ extensive powers for licensing all privately rented housing in specific areas.

We will develop with tenants’ representatives a good landlords charter for
councils and housing associations to adhere to if they wish to access funding from the Mayor.

What changes would be made to fares by a LibDem Mayor and how would these changes be funded?

Our package of fare reductions will concentrate help where it is most needed:

  • Early Bird discounts for Tube, TfL rail and DLR travellers using the network before 7.30am
  • A One Hour Bus Ticket allowing people to hop-on and hop-off buses a you can on the Tube and rail – paying only one single fare
  • A part-timers’ Travelcard using Oyster technology, so people regularly
    travelling three days a week can get the sort of discounts provided by the weekly travelcards
  • One Day Outer London Travelcard
  • We will review all the fare zones across London so passengers are not disadvantaged
  • We will end the scandal of Oyster overcharging, and where it does occur, make it far quicker and easier to get a refund
  • We will protect the 24 hour Freedom Pass, so valued by London’s retired and disabled citizens

All our proposals for improvements to the transport system are fully costed and they would be funded through a number of sources including:

  • issuing a London Transport Bond to raise additional funds to speed up investment, open not just to City financers but ordinary Londoners who will get a real return on their savings as well as seeing a real improvement in services
  • rigorously benchmarking costs of the current investment programme, comparing individual lines with benchmarks from the best international transport operators.
  • Placing Transport for London’s assets like stations and vacant land into a dedicated London Property Agency, tasked with bringing forward developments above stations, improving the return on retail leases and partnering with developers to release the value from underused assets to put back into the transport system.

Why do you support the introduction of an incinerator in Beddington Lane?

With plans to build a waste incinerator on the boundary between Sutton and Croydon, it is a hot topic at this election

Landfill tax is set to reach £80 per tonne in 2014. As tax payers, this is money that comes out of our pockets and we have to look for viable alternatives to landfill.

At present more than 200,000 tonnes of waste from households in Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton goes to landfill.

The proposed energy recovery facility would include the landfill diversion of up to 95 per cent of waste delivered to the facility and the generation of enough electricity to power the facility itself and supply energy for 30,000 homes.

These are still only proposals but they have been developed and supported by both the Labour party in Merton and the Conservative party in Croydon. I have been disappointed that now we are in an election period candidates from other parties have chosen to forget the cross-party backing that drove forward proposals.

What have LibDem Assembly members achieved on the London Assembly in the last four years ?

In the last four years Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly have stood up for London and Londoners.

Liberal Democrats have kept up pressure on the Mayor to reward commuters and
help people faced with rising transport fares. It was the Liberal Democrats who
persuaded the Mayor to introduce half-price tickets for job seekers on London’s bus and tram network and who got the Mayor to consider introducing Early Bird fares

Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly have repeatedly advanced ways to divert money from waste to spend on front line services, have never voted to cut the police’s budget and have stopped the Met’s flawed estates programme that would have shut police stations.

Liberal Democrats were the first party group to propose a cut in the GLA’s share of
Council Tax.

Liberal Democrats have campaigned to increase the number, size and range of affordable housing in the capital, championed new ways of financing new homes and held the Mayor to his commitments.

Liberal Democrats have led the way in championing improvements to accessible
transport. The recent decision by TfL to allow Guide Dogs to use escalators on the
Tube was a direct result of Liberal Democrat pressure.

Liberal Democrats at City Hall, and in government, have secured funding for
CrossRail and other crucial services like Thameslink from being cancelled, meaning
less crowded journeys to work for millions of Londoners in the future.

Liberal Democrats have championed methods now partly in use to tackle the
Tube upgrade programme faster and smarter.

Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for better skills training and developing
apprenticeships, championing innovative schemes. Liberal Democrats in City Hall
promoted the use of apprenticeship schemes on the London 2012 Olympics
site, as well as pushing employers to use local workers.

Liberal Democrats have set the agenda on air quality, leading the fight for a central
clean air zone and developing costed plans for a big switch to electric vehicles.

Liberal Democrats secured free Olympic and Paralympic tickets for carers to
accompany all severely disabled people.

Why should people believe your promises for extra police officers when your party voted in Parliament to cut police funding?

Abigail Lock (left), campaigning with Brian Paddick (right), the LibDems' candidate for London Mayor, and a former senior police officer

Liberal Democrats have always been clear that they will not support funding cuts for front line police services and one of our pledges is to guarantee 33,500 police in the Met by protecting local neighbourhood teams from the current Mayor’s cuts and putting more police on the streets in communities most at risk from gun and knife crime.

As Mayor, Brian Paddick will also take up the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for
London, instead of delegating it to a deputy, and will personally lead a new era of tough and
responsive policing in London.

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Increase the visibility of uniformed officers at busy travel interchanges and in town centres, especially late at night
  • Give each neighbourhood its own plan for policing and how officers are deployed, based on ward surveys and involving local people and local businesses in decisions over policing priorities in their areas
  • Ensure that those convicted of criminal offences will be made to work in the community to repay their debt to society while gaining new skills – reoffending can be halved through payback sentencing
  • Guarantee funding for rape crisis centres and retraining of police to raise awareness – last year 3,312 rapes were recorded but London courts convicted just 219 people
  • We will stop police targeting innocent people and accurately target the power on criminals. Stopping people just because they are from minority ethnic communities destroys trust and wastes time that could be better spent targeting real criminals.

Wouldn’t it just be better for the Liberal Democrats to concentrate on getting their voters to focus on voting for the top-up list to maximise the size of the Liberal Democrat party on the Assembly, as the LibDems have never won a first-past the post seat on the Assembly?

The list system, where people vote on the orange ballot paper for the name of the party as opposed to the name of an individual candidate is particularly important for the Liberal Democrats. The Assembly holds the Mayor to account. The more votes Liberal Democrats get on this ballot paper, the less likelihood the BNP will get a seat.

In terms of the Croydon and Sutton seat, if I was elected as your GLA candidate I would not be a remote person living the high life in City Hall. I would spend my time fighting for a better deal for local residents.

In your borough, “Winning Here” is a proud LibDem slogan. How do you convince voters outside Sutton that a vote for the LibDems is not just a vote for the Conservatives by another means?

Absolutely not – read our manifesto and you will see that Liberal Democrats have a distinct policy platform. Liberal Democrats have run Sutton Council for 26 years, we have achieved some of London’s lowest crime rates, the country’s best schools, an active and vibrant third sector and we have one of the best environmental records. Many Tory authorities could only ever aspire to achieve what Liberal Democrats have delivered in Sutton.

Labour and the Tories have let the people of Croydon down that is why they should vote Liberal Democrat.

Do you support Boris Johnson’s desire to oversee education in London? Would a Boris-run London Education Authority threaten Sutton’s grammar schools?

Education should continue to be the responsibility of Local Authorities. In Sutton we have some of the best schools in the country which has come about from a strong working relationship between our schools and the Liberal Democrat council. I would not want to see Boris Johnson jeopardising our children’s education.

St Helier or Mayday? Which one would you prefer to see keeping its A&E department in the context of the review of the NHS in South West London?

I want the maximum possible amount of medically safe urgent and emergency care to be available at both St Helier and Mayday.

At the end of the day if I or a member of my family were in an accident my priority would be knowing that the best possible care was available with the best chances of a good recovery. So I want to know that any decisions made about the future of our A & E departments are based on sound clinical evidence.

Would you take any employment outside City Hall if elected?

No – representing the people of Croydon and Sutton is a full-time job.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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