Croydon Central open primary: Jane Avis

Jane Avis is an experienced and long-serving councillor for South Norwood, and is shadow cabinet member at the Town Hall for the challenging brief of health and social care. She also has the experience of previously contesting a Croydon constituency, having been given the onerous and unwinnable task of taking on Lord Bletchingley in Croydon South in 2010.

Jane Avis

Jane Avis

Aged 58, a great-grandmother, she is a keen cyclist and walker – this week, she returned from hiking the length of the Highland Way. She is a keen advocate of Fairtrade, vegetarianism and cooperative values, but got behind the steering wheel of a van as a volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels for 11 years.

She has a politics and government degree which she graduated in at the age of 39 after returning to education when the bank she worked for closed.

“I was raised on a council estate within a working class family,” Avis says.

“I have worked in many jobs from factory worker to managing a team of 25 people in a merchant bank. Because I have been a Labour councillor for more than 15 years, the Mayor of Croydon (2003-2004), and a volunteer, I have gained an extensive knowledge and understanding of my fellow Croydonians and Croydon. I am passionate about the rights of older and disabled people.”


We put questions to all the candidates. This is how Jane Avis answered

What do you see as the single most important issue facing Croydon today?

There are many ‘most important’ issues facing Croydon, including, high youth unemployment, crisis in the care of older people, a lack of school places for our children, a shortage of housing and the sell-off of our heritage.

Of those issues, the proposed spending cuts announced by George Osborne this week have added further to our woes. However, if I were forced to name just one of those ‘important issues’, I would pick youth unemployment and the skills gap we are suffering in Croydon. The consequences of high unemployment in our young people and the lack of skills training will impact greatly upon our society for years to come, and not in a positive manner.

To avoid this negativity, we must start training our young people to fit the employment needs of the 21st century, and to this end, a great start has been made by Croydon North MP Steve Reed, who held his jobs fair at the end of June.

Should voters get the chance to decide on the UK’s membership of the EU?

Absolutely yes, and this is what happens every four, now five years. It’s called a General Election. The parties standing for election present a manifesto setting out their policies which include Europe, and the electorate decides.

What is your favourite work of art?

I can’t believe I am saying this, but it might now be The Haywain by Constable. It was a painting that I had somewhat dismissed as being a bit ‘chocolate box’ but after visiting the National Gallery about a year ago, I heard a curator speek to a group of students on this painting. Like those students, I was enthralled, amazed and excited by her description of this wonderful work of art which she brought alive and engendered a new appreciation in me; I have loved this wonderful work of art ever since.

Why did you not seek selection in Croydon North last year?

I did. I love Croydon and want to serve Croydon where I can make a difference to people’s lives.

Tony Blair or Tony Benn?

Tony Benn without a doubt.

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