Croydon North feels like it has been a Labour stronghold since time began, and in a way, it has. Created for the 1997 general election it has been held by just two Labour MP’s ever since.
With Thornton Heath at its epicenter, the ward is home to the largest number of West Indians of any ward in London and hosts a flamboyant carnival every year.
Grime artist Stormzy and supermodel Kate Moss are the borough’s proudest exports, with the famous Selhurst based BRIT School for music and performing arts churning out talents including Adele, Katy B, and Loyle Carner.
This musical notoriety is often eclipsed by headlines about knife crime, poverty, and violence. In recent weeks men have been charged in connection to a Thornton Heath kidnapping, a stabbing at Thornton Heath petrol station, and a South Norwood man jailed for rape and torture.
On the fringes of London, as well as of Croydon town center, the constituency feels like a cluster of suburban towns left unclaimed by either city. A potentially affordable spot for commuters, it is yet to be the target of real development.
Voices from the street
“There’s one person I’d never trust and that’s Corbyn. He keeps changing his mind every five minutes. First he was for Brexit then he said he was not.”
“The Conservative candidate is the one I shall be voting for. First of all I’ve known him for a while and he is honest. I think twelve months after we’re out of the EU this country will be back on its feet.”
Patrick Carpenter, 83-year-old retired ex-police officer from Richmond Road, Thornton Heath.
“There were lies at the beginning which means we should have a final say, because the Brexit we were promised is not the Brexit we’re going to get, so we should get a vote about whether we do it or not.”
“Steve Reed seems like a good bloke, I follow him on twitter… That SPAC Nation he’s spoken up about, I don’t know what’s going on about that, some radical church thing, but at least he’s put it forward.”
Malcolm Fernandez, 23, supermarket worker from Mersham Road , Thornton Heath.
Patrick Carpenter (left) and Malcolm Fernandez (right). Pic: Evie Breese
Malcolm Wicks took Croydon North in 1997 and held the seat for the next two general elections, until his death in September 2012. The by-election was won by Steve Reed, now Shadow Minister for Children and Families and running for his third re-election.
Reed was the Leader of Lambeth Council from 2006 until his election in 2012. He received an OBE in 2013 for services to local government.
Popular in Croydon, Reed claims to have dealt with over 50,000 issues for residents, one of the highest rates for any MP.
He has previously said his proudest achievement is Seni’s Law, named after Seni Lewis, who was killed after police used “excessive” and prolonged restraint on the young black graduate from South Norwood while he was receiving treatment on a mental health ward.
More funds for Croydon University Hospital, and tackling racism and mental health are at the fore of Reed’s campaign.
Almost 60per cent voted Remain in the referendum, so it is unlikely that Conservative candidate Donald Ekekhomen, a late entry into the race who calls to get Brexit done, will convince a majority of Croydon voters.
A pharmacist who lost his campaign to represent Waddon in the 2018 council elections, Ekekhomen is campaigning on a line that takes a tough stance on crime, promising “20,000 new police officers around Croydon North and Croydon in general.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Claire Bonham has lived in Crystal Palace since 2013 and has 15 years experience working in the voluntary sector. ‘Tackling the knife crime epidemic’ is her number one priority for Croydon North, followed by “Transforming our mental health services” and “stopping Brexit.”
“Labour have taken this area for granted for too long,” she said.
All 2019 Candidates:
- Steve Reed (Labour)
- Donald Ekekhomen (Conservative)
- Claire Bonham (Liberal Democrat)
- Rachel Chance (Green)
- Chidi Ngwaba (Brexit)
- Candace Mitchell (Christian Peoples)
Croydon North 2017 General Election results:
Result: Labour HOLD (Majority: 44,213, 74.2%)
Turnout: 59,623 (68.2%)
|Liberal Democrat||Maltby Pindar||1,656||2.8||-0.8|
|Green Party||Peter Underwood||983||1.6||-3.1|