I am standing as the Green Party candidate for the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency. Here is some background about me and some of the policies that I would pursue if elected.

About Me

A lifelong Upminster resident and a former Coopers Coborn student, I am aged 56, married with two children. I belong to many environmental organisations, am a member of Upminster Methodist Church where I was a youth club leader for many years, and a West Ham season ticket holder. I run a company manufacturing water-based adhesives in Purfleet and am a part-time author, having written six books, mainly about walking and travel, two of which describe walks on the Essex coast.

I am standing for the Green Party because I believe that protecting our planet, its people and wildlife is the most important issue that mankind faces, and because I believe that we need a society and economy that are fair to everyone.

These are some of the policies that I feel strongly about and would support if elected.

Here is my profile on the Green Party website – https://my.greenparty.org.uk/candidates/106005

Local Issues

In our constituency we are fortunate to have precious Green Belt and other green spaces. These must be protected against pressures to develop.

Rates and rents for small business and shops need to be more affordable, to increase local employment and reduce the need for people to travel to their places of work and to shop.

Many young and lower paid people struggle to find housing here. Over the last few years we have seen infill housing built, but very little has been affordable social housing. Small homes are needed to house local people, not expensive ones to make money for developers.

I would push for improved bus services, particularly serving Queens Hospital. Parking and public transport need to encourage people to shop locally rather than drive to out of town centres. For the sake of our health, particularly our children and elderly people, air pollution must be reduced.

If elected I would seek an immediate review of the Government’s decision to select Option C for a new Lower Thames Crossing, which will result in loss of Green Belt land and people’s homes but will be of questionable effectiveness in relieving both congestion and air pollution. A review must ensure that all factors are fully considered, including switching of freight to rail and improved road layouts and traffic management either side of the existing crossing. It needs to be based on up to date traffic data and include Option A14, a tunnel from junction 30, and traffic management schemes that may alleviate the need for a new crossing, neither of which were put to the public in the recent consultation.

Environment

What can be more important than looking after the planet on which we live? We are stewards of the earth and it is our duty to protect it for our children and future generations. Unless climate change is slowed it will have a huge impact on the future for the people and creatures who share our world. Mankind cannot continue to ravage the world’s finite resources, pollute the earth and change its climate. We are even killing the Great Barrier Reef.

The Green Party will not hide from the challenges we face. Britain must take the lead not lag behind other countries. We must reduce our energy consumption and invest in renewable energy, phasing out fossil fuels.

Locally and nationally we need to make changes that will reduce road traffic and congestion, not by building more roads but by far wider measures to cut road usage. Affordable, reliable public transport must be provided. Public transport needs to be run as a service, not for profit. Wherever possible freight should travel by rail or water, not road or air.

There should be more electrification of our railways but no new airport runways. We need to move to the normal mode for ‘short haul’ travel being by train, not environmentally damaging planes.

Over time our society will need to change so the need to travel is reduced.

Housing

Everyone has a right to a roof over their head. It is scandalous that in 21st century Britain thousands sleep on the streets every night. Homelessness is no longer restricted to big cities; we see it in Hornchurch & Upminster.

Single room hostels with shared facilities and support would take people off the streets and save the NHS & policing costs associated with homelessness.

We need rent controls and a Landlord Licensing Scheme to ensure that every landlord adheres to minimum standards. We should build far more low cost Council Housing, which will have the additional benefit of bringing down private rents, and must ensure that a higher proportion of new private housing developments are ‘affordable’. The Green Party would build 500,000 socially rented homes.

Economy

I believe that our country’s wealth should be shared more equally and that we should re-introduce higher tax bands for the biggest earners.

I support the Green Party’s proposals for a Citizens’ Income for everyone, which would replace personal tax allowances and prevent the current unemployment and poverty traps

Corporation Tax should be raised, with higher rates for larger companies, but Employers’ National Insurance abolished (it is a tax on employment). We should work with other countries to close the loopholes that allow companies to avoid UK tax on operations here. A Financial Transaction Tax (‘Robin Hood Tax’) would raise £8 billion.

I believe that we need greater support for science & technology, both in education and commerce. Innovation is the key to developing new clean industries.

I would cancel the replacement of Trident, a nuclear weapon that could never be used, and spend the £31 billion plus saving on the NHS and education.

Foreign Aid

We are very fortunate to live in a wealthy country and although there are many needs here, millions of people in other places struggle even to find enough food to live.

Commendably David Cameron’ s government enshrined in law 0.7% of national budget for overseas aid but this is now at risk. Aid needs to be targeted to ensure the short, medium and long term welfare of people, but as one of the world’s richest countries I believe that we have a moral duty to support those who are not so fortunate.

Britain has a proud history of welcoming people forced to flee war and persecution and helping them rebuild their lives. Whilst immigration cannot be uncontrolled, I believe that we should offer sanctuary to a reasonable number of genuine refugees.

Animal Welfare

The animals we farm for food should be treated with respect in their life and slaughter. Factory farming should be phased out, transport to slaughter minimised and routine use of antibiotics stopped.

I strongly oppose blood sports and believe that there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for lifting the fox hunting ban. If rural foxes do need to be controlled it can be done humanely. 21st century Britain should not be legalising the killing of animals for people’s enjoyment

I would increase penalties for those who wilfully harm or neglect animals, to act as a deterrent against animal cruelty.

Brexit

This election should be about far more than just Brexit, but I support allowing the people to have the final say on EU membership, with a ratification referendum based on the best deal which our government can negotiate. We need to know that it is ‘the will of the people’ to leave the EU under this deal.

In running a manufacturing business I am already seeing some of the downsides of Brexit and that losing access to the Single Market will have a far greater impact.

Sport

As a longstanding member of the Football Supporters’ Federation Safe Standing Group and having written a book investigating the subject, I would scrap the requirement for football stadia in the Premier League and Championship to be all seated, permitting safe standing which would improve safety and is backed by 90% of football supporters.

Democracy

I firmly believe that we need a fairer electoral system so that the make-up of parliament more accurately reflects the share of the votes cast. We need government to be by consensus and to move away from the system that allows a party to be elected by a minority of the electorate but to be able to govern virtually unopposed for five years.

However, I believe that no vote is wasted and that every vote the Green Party receives is important as a demonstration of concern for our environment and for social justice.

I believe that I am the best candidate to truly represent the local needs of the people of the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency, and that the Green Party would allow me to put my constituents first rather than being constrained by having to follow strict party lines.

Thank you for reading this and considering voting for me. If you want to know more about Green Party policies please visit www.greenparty.org.uk.

Peter Caton