Residents of Croydon North will take to the polls tomorrow in the Croydon North byelection. Andy Bloss profiles the leading candidates who are vying to take on the constituency and asks them why they should get your vote.
Andy Stranack, running for the Conservatives, was born in Croydon and worked with the late Labour MP Malcolm Wicks, to help establish the Croydon Disability Forum.
A host of big hitters have supported Mr Stranack, with the Prime Minister endorsing him in a letter written to the Croydon Guardian this week.
Mr Stranack said: "Malcolm Wicks was a highly respected MP – he’ll be a hard act to follow. That’s why this by-election is so important.
"It isn’t going to change the Government, but it is our chance to make sure we have a good, local MP like Malcolm.
"Unlike Labour’s candidate, I’m not a professional politician. I work for Ment4, a Croydon charity based on London road that helps young people aged between 14 and 19 who are involved in crime to turn their lives around.
"I’m also the only one of the main party candidates who is local, having been born in Mayday and lived in Croydon all my life.
"I was born with cerebral palsy, so I know what it’s like to struggle and work hard for what you achieve in life. I want to be a voice for people of all minorities, of all faiths, and from all different communities in Parliament.
"Give your vote on Thursday to someone who is local, who knows how life on the ground really is for Croydon residents. Vote for me, Andy Stranack, a voice for hard-working people in Croydon."
Steve Reed, Labour’s candidate for Croydon North, is Lambeth’s council leader and has lived in Streatham for many years.
Mr Reed is the favourite to take Croydon North but that has not stopped Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper from coming to Croydon to back their man.
Labour’s candidate said: "Croydon North has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in London. A police station is closing and there are 91 fewer police officers in Croydon since 2010.
“The Tory Council is neglecting Croydon North while investing in other parts of the Borough. Whether it's in the Town Hall, City Hall or Whitehall out of touch Tories are letting the people of Croydon North down.
"Croydon North needs an MP who will be on the side of local communities, fighting for fairness for all. Just like Malcolm Wicks did.
“As your MP I would get going straight away by calling a jobs summit - bringing together businesses, skills providers, colleges and schools.
“I'd bring together local businesses recovering from the riots and demand they get the support they need, and oppose Tory police cuts.
"By voting Labour on Thursday people in Croydon North have a chance to tell David Cameron you cannot be the One Nation Prime Minister Britain needs if you are cutting police officers and raising taxes for pensioners in Croydon North when millionaires will pay less.
"I will always stand up for local communities and do the right thing for Croydon North."
Liberal Democrat candidate Marisha Ray is no stranger to Croydon, having spent much of her childhood with close family friends in the borough.
The mother-of-one served as a councillor in Islington between 2002 and 2010, and was an executive member for tackling crime between 2006 and 2008.
She said: "My priorities are to ensure that we cut crime in Croydon, to ensure that NHS services in Croydon and nearby offer an excellent standard of service, that the promised Tramlink extension is delivered and that every young person in Croydon feels the benefits of the Youth Contract and apprenticeships schemes.
"Particularly important to me as a mother are the new schemes to give one to one attention and improve the education of children who might otherwise fall behind.
"As a lead councillor I successfully implemented a gang prevention strategy and worked closely with all local organisations to reduce crime. I’m an experienced campaigner with a record of holding the NHS to account.
Additionally as a former member of the board of a hospital I know how the NHS works. I will work to ensure that Croydon University Hospital is not adversely affected if the proposed closure of St. Helier A&E goes ahead."
Lee Jasper is the Respect Party’s candidate for Croydon North. The former policy advisor to Ken Livingstone when he was mayor is now the chairman of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium.
He wanted his campaign to focus on speaking out for the poor, elderly and vulnerable.
Mr Jasper said: "I am standing as I believe I can truly make a difference to the lives of the people in Croydon North.
"In this election I am by far the most broadly experienced candidate. I am far from your average politician, who has no experience of the real world.
"I have a unique combination of knowledge at the highest levels of local Government, and at the very grassroots of local activism.
"I have a vision of a Croydon North that fully engages and delivers for its residents. The mainstream parties continuously fail to produce and implement successful policies and repeatedly go back on their promises."
Shasha Khan, who is standing for the Green Party, is nicknamed the ‘Green Knight’.
He has lived in the area for 30 years and currently lives in Selhurst. He is best known as a local campaigner.
He said: "My tireless effort and enthusiasm for fighting for my local area, has earned me the nickname of Croydon’s Green Knight. Something local reporters first used.
"The best way to explain the principles of the Green Party is through a leaflet that I handed out outside Thornton Heath station on the morning of the General Election in 2005, and by the way, I was the Green Party parliamentary in 2010.
"The leaflet simply said People, Planet and Peace – Vote Green.
"The Green Party has been consistency against the incinerator.
"It is against our principle to burn waste. Mayor Boris Johnson has said he needs to gauge the level of opposition to decide whether to intervene in the planning process.
"A high Green vote on Thursday will send a signal to the Mayor that people don't want the incinerator."
Winston McKenzie is standing for UKIP in the Croydon North by-election, he has lived in Croydon for 50 years.
The former boxer wants to tackle crime and homelessness whilst also praising the work ethic of small businesses and community groups.
He said: ""I would galvanise people with hope. I would make them realise that they can do something help themselves. I would reach out to community leaders who are doing sterling work but are not getting the support from government because all eyes are on abroad and on fighting foreign wars.
"We have failed tomorrow's generation. The first thing I would is communicate. We need to reach out the youngsters. It's about time politicians got out there into the real world. I spent 15 years of people life lecturing in schools and young people feel like they can talk to me."