Written by Catherine Lund 

Five candidates vying to be Tooting’s next MP were brought together for ‘The Tooting Debate’ on Friday night hosted by Wandsworth Tonight presenter Tom Hopkinson and broadcast live on Wandsworth Radio. 

Crossrail 2, air pollution and plans for AFC Wimbledon to return to Plough Lane were among the topics covered by the candidates at Tooting Market.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan from Labour, Dan Watkins from the Conservatives and Esther Obiri-Darko for the Green Party, answered questions in front of an audience of more than 100 people alongside Alex Glassbrook from the Liberal Democrats and Elizabeth Jones from UKIP.

You can LISTEN AGAIN to The Tooting Debate here….

One of the most hotly debated topics was Crossrail 2.

All five candidates were supportive of bringing the route through Tooting but stressed community benefits must be considered alongside disruption building works will cause for residents and local businesses.

IMG_6346However, Rosena Allin-Khan and Dan Watkins clashed over where an estimated £500m needed to bring a Crossrail station to Tooting Broadway would come from.

Mr Watkins said funds were likely to come from saving money elsewhere on the route or from central government.

He said: “It’s too much money to expect it to go through the Transport for London budget given the scale of money needed.

“That is why we need to the best possible person in parliament in the next two years to get this legislation through and bring it to our area and make it work for local residents.”

But this idea was dismissed by Rosena Allin-Khan who said she would work closely with Sadiq Khan on bringing Crossrail 2 to Tooting Broadway.

She said: “You represent a government who has cut the transport budget so I think it’s very optimistic to think that 500 million pounds is going to come from central government when in fact they’ve been cutting funding already.”

Alex Glassbrook said he was concerned about whether the road could cope with construction traffic and added Transport for London need to be open about the demands the project.

“TfL need to be transparent at every stage,” he said. “About the engineering challenges and the cost because I think there has been some feeling there has been a lack of transparency and a lack of prompt communication.”

 IMG_6343Esther Obiri-Darko added: “We do need to make sure in any consultation the communities that are involved in planning such as Town Transition Tooting and Tooting Neighbourhood plan and that they are carried and taken along with it.”

Elizabeth Jones added she believed that benefits of Crossrail 2 would include new opportunities for businesses and housing developments.

The Tooting by-election will take place on Thursday June 16th.

June 11th, 2016

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