Croydon’s image problem is a legacy of its unwelcoming architecture and reputation for crime and anti-social behaviour, according to the new MP for Croydon Central.

Gavin Barwell highlighted the issues in his maiden speech at Parliament last night.

The new MP said: “There is no getting away from the fact that Croydon has an image problem - a reputation for rather unwelcoming 1960s architecture and for crime and anti-social behaviour.”

He said the town centre was in need of regeneration, and highlighted the council’s “ambitious” plans to deliver this as the economy emerges from the recession.

He said crime was the “number one concern” of his constituents but praised Borough Commander Adrian Roberts for tackling this in the town centre.

He added: “These two problems aside, Croydon has so much going for it.”

The father-of-two, who said he chose to bring up his children in the borough, spoke about its unique history comparing modern-day Croydon to a “mini-Manhatten” and saying it is a “city in all but name”.

Mr Barwell said: “Croydon’s greatest asset is undoubtedly its people, many of whom have come from all over the world to make it their home, setting up new businesses, working in our public services, contributing to the town’s thriving voluntary sector and enriching its culture, making it a vibrant, cosmopolitan place to live.

“Like many suburbs, Croydon is not without its problems, but it is a great place to live.”

Mr Barwell also praised he predecessor Andrew Pelling saying he was “regarded in the constituency as an excellent local MP”.

He added: “He was one of the people who encouraged me to get involved in local politics. I wish him well in whatever he chooses to do in the future and hope that his contribution to public life is not at an end.”