Tory peer sorry for Lewisham concrete jibe

Lord Maples, Photo: Stratford Conservatives

A Conservative peer and ex-Lewisham MP has caused outrage by dismissing the borough as “three square miles of concrete”.

Lord Maples of Stratford-upon-Avon admitted that he “could have picked a better phrase”, but said he was only trying to make a distinction between the borough and Stratford, his last constituency.

Speaking exclusively to East London Lines, he said he has been “horrified” by the reaction his comments have gained.

Lord Maples, who was the MP for Lewisham between 1983-1992, made the disparaging comments in a debate over the re-organisation of parliamentary boundaries.

He said “Lewisham does not have an identity,” and that he thought many of its residents did not even knew which borough they lived in.

Labour peer Lord Kennedy of Southwark, who lives in Ladywell, labelled the comments “outrageous”.

“Lewisham is a wonderful borough,” he added, “with a vibrant multi-cultural community”.

Many Lewisham residents were equally critical of their former MP. James Crossland, 63, a pensioner from New Cross said: “He clearly hasn’t got a brain if he thinks that. It’s the individuals that make a difference in this area.”

Speaking today, Lord Maples, who was elevated to the House of Lords after stepping down as MP before the election, regretted any offence.

“The last thing I wanted to do was to insult the people who voted for me,” he said. “I was merely attempting to show how many in the area do not identify themselves with the parliamentary constituency.”

His comments also angered Dominique Perkins, 25, who works for a bookmakers in the area. She defended her borough saying: “It has its own character, its own atmosphere. It may not always have a positive one but it certainly has an identity.”

Karen Grayson, 28, a social worker, accused Lord Maples of stating the obvious in his comments. “There’s concrete in all the boroughs, Lewisham’s no different to any others.”

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