Inglis Road, Addiscombe: London’s most political street?

Is Inglis Road the most political street in Croydon, or even London?

VOTE 2014 logoThis one short road in Addiscombe has six residents who are standing for election in the local council elections on May 22.

The six candidates will be representing three parties – two each for Labour, the Green Party and the Conservatives.

At No9 we have two Labour councillors, Alison Butler and her partner, the local Labour planning supremo, Paul Scott. Butler is a deputy leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council.

Councillor Butler is seeking re-election in Bensham Manor ward and while Scott is standing again in Woodside ward. Both seem certain to be returned.

patrick ratnaraja

Just across the road at No10 is Tamil community leader Patrick Ratnaraja, who is standing for the Conservatives in the strongly Labour ward of West Thornton. There, among others, he will be opposed by Labour’s Hon Emily Benn, the granddaughter of the late Tony Benn.

Ratnaraja hopes to appeal to a significant Tamil community in West Thornton. Ratnaraja is well-liked for his work lobbying for the Tamil cause and boasts that he is “happy to criticise the Tories if they are wrong”.

Since his selection was announced, he has been critical of Croydon Tories’ celebration of their recruitment of a number of young, and inexperienced, candidates, some of whom have been selected for wards where their chances of election are considerably better than West Thornton. “Under-30 straight from uni after masters, or work for politicians? Still with mum and dad? No thanks,” Ratnaraja said on Twitter. Who could he have in mind?

At the most substantial property in the road, No23, is another Conservative candidate, David Harmes. Harmes is the only Inglis Road resident who is actually seeking to represent the area he lives in, namely Addiscombe ward.

One short street, six candidates for council elections: Inglis Road, Addiscombe

Harmes is the chairman of the supposedly non-party political CHASE residents association.In other parts of the borough, residents’ associations have opted not to put up candidates for elections because of their apolitical status, while RA officers have sometimes been put under pressure to relinquish their position if they have exercised too much interest in standing for political parties. On one RA’s Facebook group, local Tories have expressed their horror at even the mention of local candidates canvassing activity.

But this party political abstinence has not stopped Harmes risking compromising that principle in CHASE by boasting of his residents’ association role on his Conservative election address. The non-political CHASE residents’ association website also manages to promote Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell and his website.

The CHASE association, which initially represented the five roads beginning with the capital letters making up the association’s name, now extends to 10 local streets. Like Ratnaraja, Harmes is happy to speak out against local Tories.

Harmes’s Tory campaign is critical of the Conservative-run council for allowing over-development, failing to link the East Croydon “Bridge to Nowhere” to Addiscombe,  and for its poor street-cleaning record.

Next door at No25 is Green Party candidate Tim Watson. Three doors down at No31 is Ruud Skipper. Both aspire to represent the far away ward of Coulsdon West, a ward which stretches to the very borders of Surrey. As dedicated Greens, you’d expect them to take the hour-long bus journey to their canvassing sessions in the next couple of weeks, before returning home to Inglis Road, Croydon’s most political street.

Inside Croydon’s recent coverage of the local elections: