Lib Dem leader Ed Davey marked the latest stage of his election campaign with a visit to Carshalton village, where he met the local Liberal Democrat candidate.

Davey’s party is focusing on the Carshalton and Wallington seat as one of their top election targets, having lost it to the Tories in 2019.

Local candidate Bobby Dean welcomed Davey for his first campaign visit to the area in the run-up to July 4.

Davey was pictured making jam with volunteers.

The event took place at Nickel Support, a Carshalton-based social enterprise which supports over 100 people with learning disabilities with skill workshops.

Special education falls under local government’s remit, and according to many parents Sutton has not been doing a great job in providing it.

Many parents with disabled children feel that they have to fight with the Council to get an EHCP plan, which guarantees tailored education for their children.

Many also have to go to tribunal to secure these plans from the Council, and Sutton is currently losing upwards of 90 per cent of these tribunal cases.

Throughout the campaign, Davey has put the party’s social care policy centre stage and has been open about his life spent as a carer for his disabled son John.

After the event, the local democracy reporting service (LDRS) asked Davey for his thoughts on what some parents have called “Sutton’s EHCP crisis” and what he would do to address the issue.

He told the LDRS: “Speaking as a parent of a disabled child who has an EHCP, I’m really familiar with the system and I’m afraid it’s not working well.

"Sutton and many other councils are having problems managing this failed national system and national government hasn’t really helped.

“I think what we should do is reform it. There are some good parts of it but it’s just not working well.

"So what do we do, if there is a young person or a child who needs particularly expensive support that should fall on the national budget, not on the local budget?

“Councils can’t plan very, very large expenses and they’re being asked to do that, and as a result, they can’t plan their services.”

The Sutton EHCP Crisis campaign group were set up to support Sutton parents fighting for their children’s education in the borough.

They told the LDRS how they tried to contact the then-newly elected leader Davey back in 2020 about supporting their cause, but were ignored.

When asked if he would apologise to the group and commit to working with them if elected, Davey said:  “I’m very happy to meet with them, I’m not aware that they had contacted me.

"It must have got lost in the system but I apologise for that. I’m really hopeful that if we win the parliamentary election here with Bobby Dean and Luke Taylor in Sutton and Cheam, they’ll have two local champions who will be able to work with me to help them.”

Carshalton and Wallington previously formed the far eastern flank of the Lib Dem’s South West London stronghold, until the Conservative’s Elliot Colburn took it in the last election.

Despite the loss, the party has maintained a strong influence in the area and has controlled the borough Council since 1988. 

When asked how he fancies his party’s chances in the area, Davey said: “First of all, I’m not taking the voters for granted nor should anybody. 

“I have got an ambition for the Liberal Democrats and what is quite exciting is that we are getting a fantastic response from what I call the Blue Wall and the Home Counties, the West Country – our former heartlands – and in many parts of rural Britain, we’re getting a really good response.

“I am increasingly confident that people are going to vote Liberal Democrat as a positive alternative to the Conservatives and in areas where only we can beat the Conservatives.

"If we get loads of Liberal Democrat MPs in the next Parliament, we can campaign for the manifesto we’re standing on.”

Water and environmental health are another key focus of the current Lib Dem campaign.

Only last month did we see Davey claim his plunge into Lake Windermere was done on purpose to highlight the level of pollution present in England’s largest lake.

Closer to home the local Lib Dems have been active in campaigning for greater protection of local waterways like the river Wandle.

Dean, who is also a councillor for the Wrythe ward, recently created a campaign film called “Wandle: River At Risk” in which he highlighted the impact pollution from Thames Water extraction sites has had on the historic river.

When asked about how a potential Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington would stand up to water companies he said: “It’s been a complete disaster.

“We cannot allow the water companies to be run in the same way they have been in the past few decades.

"What the Liberal Democrats would do is transform these companies so that they will be no longer private companies but what we call public benefit companies. 

“That means that you’ve got more community interest on the board and more environmental concern on the board as well. We will change the way these companies are regulated entirely so they have to consider things other than the profits of their shareholders.”

If elected, Dean also committed to “being tough” with failing train operators if their service falls below a certain standard.

When asked if this applied to Southern Rail, which operates the majority of National Rail services in the constituency, he said: “For far too long they’ve got away with delivering a poor service but keep putting up the charges for customers every year, and that’s not good enough.”

He also called for more “resilience” in local transport and stated that they would push for the Overground and Tram services to be extended into the area.

He added: “We are one of the most poorly served areas with public transport in London, and we need to fix that.”

The other candidates standing for election in Carshalton and Wallington are as follows:

Elliot Colburn – Conservatives

Elizabeth Cooper – Reform UK

Ashley Dickenson – Christian People’s Alliance

Tracey Hague – Green Party

Steve Kelleher – Social Democrat Party

Atif Abdul Rashid – Workers Party

Hersh Thaker – Labour Party