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HomeNewsMeet the Candidates: Pamela Fitzpatrick, Independent candidate for Harrow West

Meet the Candidates: Pamela Fitzpatrick, Independent candidate for Harrow West

Harrow Online spoke with Pamela Fitzpatrick, Independent candidate for Harrow West. In today’s interview, we explore her views on important issues like housing, welfare, and health.

  1. Housing:

How do you plan to address the issue of rising homelessness including rough sleeping, and improve affordability and conditions for private renters?

At the charity law centre I set up in Harrow, I see and deal with housing issues every day and am the only candidate in Harrow West actively campaigning with the community on housing.

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Housing is one of the biggest issues in Harrow but it is a problem created by successive Governments and councils. We are told that we must build more and more tower blocks in Harrow to meet the housing crisis. The reality is that most people cannot afford these, but that is all that is really on offer from the main parties. That’s why I’ve played a central role in the No To Tesco Towers campaign over the last 18 months.

Most homelessness is hidden and is far greater than the rough sleepers we see. Thousands of families do not have a place to call home and are forced to live in one room in a bed and breakfast or hostel. There are many cases of families sleeping in cars or on the floor of friends or family.

Harrow has for decades had the lowest level of council homes of any London Borough and with the cost of buying homes beyond most people’s reach, they are forced to live in the expensive private sector. Tenancies are invariably for only one year so people cannot put down roots. We are building up massive health problems for the future as so many children in Harrow are living in homes which are damp and have toxic mould.

But the housing crisis is easily solved if only there is the political will to do so. We need the private sector to be regulated in the way it was prior to 1983. We need an immediate rent cap and secure tenancies rather than short-term 12-month lets. We need to lift the local housing allowance which sets an unrealistic limit on the level of universal credit a person can get to assist with rent.

We need an end to the building of tower blocks such as that at Kodak and now proposed on the Tesco site which does nothing to alleviate the housing crisis because the homes are too expensive and too small and often remain empty.

In the longer term, we must build more council homes and end the right-to-buy scheme, so we never have a shortage again.

2. Welfare:

Are you in support of scrapping the two-child cap on benefits? And why?

I am strongly in favour of scrapping the two-child cap on benefits. There is no evidence that it has the impact of reducing the number of children people have. In any case, a recent report from the medical journal The Lancet warns that we have a falling birth rate to the extent that we will not have enough people to fill jobs in the future. The cap is purely a punitive measure that doesn’t actually save any money and keeps hundreds of thousands of children in poverty.

3. Crime:

What measures will you implement to reduce rising crime levels?

When talking about crime, the focus tends to be on the crimes that directly affect us day to day such as knife crime and drugs-related crimes, which is a problem in Harrow. Simply saying you will get more police on the streets, as the major parties are doing, is just an ineffective sticking plaster which does nothing to actually deal with the issue.

Our criminal justice system in any case is on its knees, as I know from my work as director of a charity law centre in Harrow. We have a severe shortage of criminal barristers due to the cuts to legal aid, cases are taking up to 5 years to come to court, and our prisons are already full.

In Harrow there is virtually no provision for young people, children with special needs do not get the support they need in schools, and exclusions from school are high. Such children are vulnerable to being groomed into criminal activity.

It is not possible to tackle crimes such as these without considerable investment in public services – which will ultimately save money and help the community – and none of the major parties are going to do that. This is one of the key reasons I’m standing as an Independent.

4. Health:

Do you agree with Wes Streeting that the private sector should be used to clear the NHS backlog?

No. This is a false choice – most of the staff of the private healthcare sector is drawn from the NHS due to poor pay and conditions within the NHS. We are already wasting billions each year paying private providers in the NHS, and organisations such as the Kings Fund have stated there is no spare capacity in the private sector.

Private Finance Initiatives which were massively increased by the last Labour government have also been proven to be a false economy with NHS Trusts still paying back the loans decades later.

I am also not comfortable that both Labour’s Wes Streeting and Keir Starmer have accepted personal funding from private health sector donors. We need to end such conflicts of interest in Parliament.

I support a fully publicly owned and publicly provided NHS with proper pay and conditions for the people who work in it, and proper investment in the buildings and equipment they need to look after us all.

Meet the Candidates: Pamela Fitzpatrick, Independent candidate for Harrow West Harrow Online
‘Tesco Towers’ demonstration in Harrow featuring Pamela.

Do you agree with asking NHS staff to work longer hours to clear the waiting list backlogs?

We already have an understaffed and overworked NHS. NHS staff are already working very long hours, often well beyond the hours they are contracted to do. They should not be compelled to work even longer which would lead to more staff leaving and compromise patient safety.

The answer is to end the chronic underfunding and expensive private outsourcing which have created the issues in the first place. That money must be put back into the NHS to retain and employ trained NHS staff to quickly clear the waiting lists.

5. Utilities:

Do you believe Thames Water should be nationalised? Why or why not? Should utilities remain in the private sector or be publicly run?

There is no justification for allowing Thames Water to continue to pay large dividends to its shareholders while demanding to increase the bills paid by its customers.

In addition, Thames Water’s liabilities appear to be greater than its assets so its net value should be negligible. This means that it could be taken into public ownership at low cost to the taxpayer and run as a genuine public service and not as a way to extract ever more money from a captive customer base.

Time and time again, private companies have been bailed out by the taxpayer, only to go on to reap more profits. This should not be allowed to continue.

I support the renationalisation of rail, mail, water and energy, to be run as public services, not for profit. There is no justification for natural monopolies to be privately owned. We have been very badly served by these companies that we used to own and are now mostly owned by foreign investors. In particular, the ticket prices and subsidies on the rail network largely goes to European national rail companies.

6. Climate Change:

How will you support home insulation to reduce bills and improve energy efficiency and so reduce carbon emissions?

Britain has some of the worst insulated homes in Europe, meaning that people are having to pay well over the odds to stay warm in winter. I support a programme of home insulation which will make our homes more comfortable and save money, and will also provide employment for many people in the process.

7. Sustainable Transport:

How would you improve the environment for walking, wheeling, and cycling?

Walking and cycling are great for the environment and our own health. However, the housing problem in Harrow impacts on the ability of people to cycle. If you live in a small flat you are unlikely to have anywhere to safely store a bike. Other councils have addressed this by having secure spaces in roads to store cycles. We also need safer cycle routes and more help for those wanting to return to cycling but nervous to do so. Walking in Harrow has been something so many have enjoyed but for many in Harrow this is being eroded as more and more concrete blocks are shooting up which destroy our quiet enjoyment of the area.

8. Equalities:

Do you recognise non-binary identities and what is your stance on conversion therapy?

I have a track record of standing up for equalities. I want everyone to be treated with decency and dignity regardless of how they identify, including non-binary identities. Conversion Therapy is abuse, and must be made unlawful immediately.

9. International Politics:

Do you support the position of countries like Norway, Ireland, Spain (and many others) in recognising a Palestinian state?

I have joined hundreds of local people in the peaceful marches in central London and in Harrow calling for a ceasefire. I support the immediate recognition of the state of Palestine. I fully support the work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and International Criminal Court (ICC), and would advocate for much stronger international action to hold Israel to account for its deliberate disregard for any sort of just and lasting settlement, including sanctions and boycotts to address its apartheid, as we did with South Africa.

What should be the UK’s relationship with the European Union?

We need to have a close and friendly cultural and economic relationship with the EU. Rejoining is not a panacea, and the EU continues to have many flaws. It was created to bond the countries of Continental Europe so that another war in Europe would not be possible, and on that it has been successful, but it is also a club with rules that implicitly require a free market system and makes it very hard to redress some of the grotesque inequalities the UK faces.

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