The Lewisham Deptford Elections: Darren Johnson

This Q&A is part of Brockley Central's virtual hustings. Darren Johnson, The Green Party Prospective MP for Lewisham Deptford, answers our questions. Click for Tam Langley's answers.

1. Outside of morning peak time, overland services to London Bridge have been cut from 6 trains per hour to four trains per hour. What will you to restore the levels of service, which were promised until last year?

As your MP I will be fighting hard to restore these services, just as Greens on Lewisham Council and Greens at the London Assembly have. Whoever forms the next Government I will be pressing them to intervene. But I will be also making the case for our railways to be brought back under public control. The privatised rail companies have not been accountable to passengers and we need to end the disaster of rail privatisation.

2. Do you support the local campaign to revive plans for the South London Loop service to Crofton Park?

Very much so. Greens at the London Assembly have regularly lambasted Mayor Boris Johnson for his failures on this. We are particularly dismayed that the proposed Victoria to Bellingham service, which was to come in when the East London line started up, has now been abandoned. Both the Labour Government and the Conservative Mayor of London have failed and I will make it a key priority to revive these plans. It’s great that the East London Line is finally opening but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for cutting investment in other areas.

3. What, specifically, will you do to ensure that the Surrey Canal Station gets built during the extension of the East London Line to Clapham Junction?

It would be ridiculous for Phase 2 of the East London Line extension to go ahead without this station being built and the government is penny pinching over just a few million pound extra. Green Plans to scrap the £30 billion road building budget and put the money into public transport instead would mean there was plenty of money to fund this and many, many other rail improvements. The sitting MP’s polite diplomacy in trying to woo Government funding does not seem to be working and residents are rightly getting angry. I will stand firm with New Cross residents and make clear we will not take no for an answer.

4. What will your top priority for Lewisham Deptford be and what are you going to do about it?

I do want to ensure every home In Lewisham Deptford that needs it is given free insulation. Green councillors in (Kirklees) Huddersfield succeeded in getting a scheme like this off the ground. The Kirklees scheme is now widely recognised as being the most effective model for getting homes up to energy efficient standards. Not only would this help slash emissions, it would knock around £150 a year on household fuel bills, cur winter deaths because pensioners can’t afford to heat their homes and create many new jobs.

5. How will you reduce crime and improve policing in Lewisham Deptford?

Community Safer Neighbourhoods teams were definitely the way to go on policing. But we need to expand them so that we have officers visible throughout the day. We also need to give our young people more to do so they are not dragged into crime trough boredom. That is why in our fully-costed manifesto we are putting forward plans to double investment on youth activities. We could easily afford to do both of these things if we were not wasting money on ID cards. Academic evidence points to crime being more of a problem in those countries with the largest gap between rich and poor. That is why we are absolutely committed to a fairer and more equal society.

6. How can national government help Lewisham Council improve its performance and achieve its aims?

Firstly, national government could do Lewisham a huge favour by stopping treating direct provision of council services like a dirty word. Labour has been obsessed with offloading and outsourcing public services – whether it’s housing PFI schemes, academy schools or a myriad other functions which undermine local democracy for no real benefit. Secondly, we need to end the obsession with national targets and centrally imposed objectives and allow local government to have much more of a say in determining local priorities. Thirdly, we need to ensure local government is not devastated by a round of savage cuts that would simply worsen the impact of the recession, create more unemployment and store up far more social and environmental problems for the future.

7. What is the one policy you support that you would most like Brockley Central readers to know about?

I really want Brockley Central readers to know about our plans for tackling inequality and reducing he gap between rich and poor. Evidence shows that the most unequal societies tend to be the ones with the most problems – whether it’s ill-health, crime, lack of democratic participation or environmental problems. That is why we are commited to raising the minimum wage, ensuring pensioners have a guaranteed non-means tested weekly pension of £170 and creating a million new jobs in a way that will tackle some of our biggest environmental problems and our biggest social problems. It’s all there in our manifesto “Fair is worth fighting for” at so do look at it.

8. Name one thing in the party manifesto with which you personally disagree?

I think our manifesto is wrong to rule out membership of the euro. I think the UK should keep its options open about whether to join at a future date. That’s a personal view but one of the great things about being a Green Party politician is that you are treated like an adult and not expected to slavishly toe the party line and vote for things you don’t agree with. Other than that, I think our manifesto is great and I’m very proud of what we are putting forward. I’m not pretending we are about to form the next Government but we can get a Green MP elected here and I can play an influential role in parliament.