James Giles is an Independent candidate for the Kingston and Surbiton seat at the upcoming General Election 2019 on December 12.

Mr Giles is a community activist and campaigner in the Royal Borough of Kingston.

As with other candidates for the seat, the Comet spoke with Mr Giles about his views and policies on a range of topics related to Kingston and Surbiton and beyond.

Quotes from his responses are reproduced below.

Why are you standing to be an MP for Kingston and Surbiton?

I’m standing to be Kingston and Surbiton’s next MP because the political elite round here have failed us. We’re at gridlock nationally and they’ve failed on issues locally - be it extortionate GP waiting times or the projected £5.7m shortfall in our schools’ budgets next year. And crucially on overdevelopment - where candidates from all the main parties have failed to take action. Local issues have been sidelined and our MP has failed to take action - we need a fresh start.

What is your favourite thing about the constituency?

My favourite thing about Kingston and Surbiton is our green spaces, which must be protected. My nearest park is Green Lane Recreation Ground, in fact my house backs on to it - and it’s a wonderful place to have a walk along the Hogsmill - with many other parks across our constituency… not to mention the green belt!

What is the single most serious issue the constituency faces?

The single most serious issue that Kingston and Surbiton faces is growing crime, up in New Malden over 80 per cent since 2016 - with the cuts to police officers in the last two years locally by both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, the fact they now claim to want to increase the numbers is the height of hypocrisy - we need someone who genuinely will fight for more police for Kingston and to reopen our police counters which were closed in 2018. People aren’t feeling safe in their own communities, and it’s a disgrace.

How would you help balance the need for more houses with the desires of many residents to avoid excessive development?

The new London Plan requires Kingston to build homes for around four times the number of people forecast to actually need housing in the borough, and the National Planning Policy Framework from the Government is demanding even more. If my mum hadn’t been given a council flat when I were growing up, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to live in Kingston - it’s as simple as that. Affordable needs to mean affordable, and something that needs to be done is to require developers to disclose their viability assessments to the public, for transparency and to ensure that developers aren’t running roughshod over the borough.

What would you do to combat hunger and the rising use of foodbanks?

2919 three-day emergency parcels were provided between April and September 2019 in Kingston and Surbiton. This is a 14 per cent change on the same period the previous year, and 2919 emergency food parcels too many. We need to support the vulnerable in the community - at a national level, this means ensuring that people can afford the cost of living on benefits, which involves scrapping the five-week wait time for Universal Credit immediately - and at a local level, supporting community groups that help the vulnerable, which is why funds such as Love Kingston are so important.

How can we best tackle the climate emergency at the constituency level?

We can best do to tackle the climate emergency at a constituency level is support measures such as 20mph, reintroduce sustainable transport schemes such as the Park and Ride which was axed in 2014, and introduce green zones around schools - these are just three of the ten points outlined in the cross-party KingstonCAN campaign, which I helped launch in 2019 to improve Kingston’s air quality and environment.

Where is your campaign’s biggest area for improvement?

My biggest area for improvement is more resource! Being an independent, the challenge isn’t producing literature, it’s getting volunteers to deliver it - and of course the funding for it!

How would you work to improve education in Kingston and Surbiton?

We need to increase funding immediately. It’s an outrage that the Headteacher of Tolworth Girls’ School is forced to clean toilets because they can’t afford cleaners. Schools are set to have a £5.7m shortfall next year, and that’s without even thinking about the £20m deficit in our high needs block for SEND children. We need someone who will shout to the top for more resource for Kingston’s children.

How would Brexit impact residents the constituency?

Brexit has the potential to impact on residents in many ways - and what is important is knowing how we can overcome those challenges. That’s why I’d oppose a ‘no-deal’ scenario but push for a deal, which would provide certainty to our residents and businesses on what comes next.

If returned as an MP, what will your first question be at PMQs?

My first question would be around the £20m deficit in our special needs budget in Kingston: “Will the Prime Minister agree to meet with me in my constituency to talk to parents of SEND children, who currently aren’t getting the support they deserve because of savage cuts, and will he commit to urgently reviewing the SEND funding situation in Kingston and Surbiton to address our £20m deficit?"

What is your favourite (Desert Island scenario):

Book? Animal Farm (George Orwell)

Film? Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Music? Simon & Garfunkel