Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1166/33720
A socialist voice in Stanwell North
Vote TUSC in the by-election on 23 February
Paul Couchman Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Stanwell North
The Surrey Advertiser carried an article on 4 February, titled 'County's plan to tackle growth in levels of poverty'. It rightly exposed the massive divide that exists between the very wealthy and the rest of us in Surrey.
The headline is a little misleading, as it infers that the council intends to do something about this. But the Tories have been in power across most of Surrey for decades, and things have only gotten worse.
Inequality has grown exponentially during the pandemic. The number of people in Surrey claiming Universal Credit leapt 235% from March 2020 to August 2021, according to a council report.
Foodbank use has gone through the roof. The Trussell Trust has added six foodbank distribution centres to the 25 already active in Surrey before the pandemic.
Even before Covid, poverty - and child poverty in particular - was growing. In 2019, nearly 11% of Surrey households, including 20,000 children, were in relative poverty.
Life expectancy in Stanwell North is just 63.7 years, 13 years lower than wealthy nearby areas. Almost one fifth of children in Stanwell North claim free school meals.
Spelthorne has over 2,500 families on its housing waiting list - often desperately waiting for years. Many of these families are living in poor, cramped and unfit conditions. A recent report showed that a family would need combined earnings of well over £100,000 a year to get a mortgage on the average house in the borough.
Spelthorne Council has the power and the resources to build hundreds of good quality, environmentally sustainable, carbon neutral, family homes. The work should be done in-house with quality controls, taking on local builders and apprentices on trade union terms and rates of pay. There are masses of brownfield sites, ex-office blocks, etc, which could be turned over to council housing.
The Socialist Party says the council should also use their powers to cap rents charged by private landlords, pay a £15-an-hour minimum wage to its workforce, and campaign, alongside the trade unions, to get local businesses to do the same.
But no-one on the council is talking about what is really needed. Where are the councillors refusing to make any more cuts in services?
I am standing in the by-election in Stanwell North on 23 February to offer a socialist, working-class alternative to residents. No more Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum between the Tories and Labour, but a real anti-austerity, anti-cuts, pro-public services alternative.
In The Socialist 9 February 2022:
What we think