General election 2019: Croydon in focus

By Mariam Issimdar
BBC News

image captionCroydon's Boxpark food, music and social centre was opened in 2016

Croydon. Famous for concrete, Boxpark, Stormzy and Kate Moss.

The south London borough is home to some 387,000 people, with the highest number of under-18s in the capital.

Croydon North, Croydon South and Croydon Central are its three parliamentary constituencies. The latter is a marginal, bellwether seat meaning its winner has often belonged to the party that forms the next government.

On a wet, grey day, residents shared their views on the election issues that mattered most to them.

image captionGemma works in housing for another London borough and has two children

Gemma, 33, is a council officer who moved to the area five years ago and lives in Shirley.

She said she "loves Croydon" and it had improved in her time there with the opening of places such as Boxpark - a pop up mall next to East Croydon station that serves a variety of cuisines from converted shipping containers.

The election however, is causing her some consternation. "I just feel like we're on the precipice of something awful and there just needs to be a massive change."

The environment and education are her top priorities.

"As I have two young children, my son just started school and I love his school but I'd be devastated if cuts affected it," she said.

image copyrightCourtney Robinson
image captionCourtney Robinson is not impressed with either of the two major political leaders

Waiting for a tram Courtney Robinson, a software engineer in his 20s, said Brexit was his bugbear.

"I feel the people are being sold isolation as independence and it is my generation and those after us who will pay the consequences," he said.

He is not entirely convinced by any of the main party leaders.

He said he was disappointed with Labour's Jeremy Corbyn not taking a stance over Europe and believed the Tories have "screwed over the country".

According to the council, about 7,000 people are employed in Croydon's tech-associated industries, with a further 7,000 in engineering.

As a millennial working in tech, Mr Robinson said housing costs were less of a problem for him, despite the "ludicrous" prices.

He rents a flat in New Addington that only takes up 15% of his salary but said the price of commuting was a big concern.

image captionDaisy Nahrulla is concerned about the environment and transport in Croydon

His views on Brexit and transport were shared by 50-year-old Daisy Nahrulla, who has lived in her own home in Thornton Heath for the past 18 years.

She has been training to be a business coach after years working in the City in transport financing.

Ms Nahrulla has previously voted Labour but said she wanted to move away from the "mess that is Brexit" and would either vote Liberal Democrat or Green.

"We need more stations in south London. Transport has been under-invested for years," she said.

image captionMelissa Brooks (with son Albie) wants more done about violent crime

Melissa Brooks, 33, is a single mother of two who was born in Croydon. Retail accounts for a large proportion of the local economy and for the past 16 years Ms Brooks has worked part-time at Next.

She said violence and drugs were her worry, having witnessed people "sniffing things off bin lids" outside her home.

Her eldest son starts high school next year and she has chosen a school nearest to their home.

"He's so quiet and you don't have to be part of a gang now. They're targeting random innocent people and that really scares me," she said.

She did not vote in the 2017 election but did take part in the EU referendum.

Essentially though she has lost faith. "I don't know if it makes a difference really," she said.


  • Drug crime in the year to September in Croydon was twice England's national average, according to Croydon Council data
  • Violent crime was also higher, with 17.3 crimes per every 1,000 of the population compared to 11.3 across England
  • Croydon University Hospital's most recent CQC report found it needed to improve overall but that outpatient waiting times were good and within national standards for many conditions, including cancer
  • Croydon Council and the Home Office have been the town's largest employers with more than 41,000 people working in these offices
  • Retail and logistics employed more than 16,000 people respectively in 2017

Her friend Ann Charles, 69, lives in South Norwood and is a mother of three.

She is a carer for her eldest daughter and volunteers at a lunch club.

Ms Charles said normally she voted Labour but would not be doing so as she did not trust Mr Corbyn but she said she was "not sure about Boris either".

She recently spent more than eight hours waiting on a regular trip to a hospital with her daughter and said the main problem for her was immigration.

"We need some of it but schools and hospitals are inundated with people, they're struggling to cope," she said.

image copyrightMilo
image captionCroydon College student Milo thinks there needs to be more investment in areas with gangs

Milo, 18, is studying mechanics at Croydon College. His mum and dad have always voted in the election and he said he planned to vote Labour.

He wanted politicians to "look out for the youth" and speak to young people, especially those in areas of "higher gang activity".

"Ask them what they're into and make the changes," he added.

image captionTom Magrath is worried about the rise in youth violence

Tom Magrath has been working on a stall at the town's Surrey Street market since he was 14.

He shared Milo's concerns about knife crime but said he could not vote for Mr Corbyn and would be voting for the Conservative Party on 12 December.

Mr Magrath added: "They've got to... get us out of the EU because we voted for that.

"I know what we're going to get though - the best of a bad bunch."

image captionNestle's international HQ used to be in Croydon - the building is now being converted into flats

You can see the lists of candidates standing in Croydon's three seats here: Croydon Central; Croydon North; Croydon South.

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