The South London Tory seat set to swing to Labour as Rishi Sunak branded 'delusional'

A South London area known as a Conservative stronghold may swing to Labour under new voting boundaries, with locals claiming Rishi Sunak is 'delusional'. Beckenham and Penge represents a new constituency in this year’s General Election. The seat is derived from the former Beckenham ward, as well as the Lewisham West and Penge constituency.

Beckenham has long been viewed as a Conservative stronghold, with the party having won by a 28.2 per cent majority in the 2019 General Election. Peter Cross, 75, has lived in Beckenham for the past 20 years and said he does not expect the area’s political representation to change anytime soon.

Mr Cross told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): "I would hope it's going to stay the same. I certainly wouldn't want it to be anything to do with Farage’s group. I've not got much trust in any politician, but I think I trust the Conservative Party more than the Labour Party."

Danny Davis, 78, has lived in the town centre for 30 years. He said he also would be surprised if the Conservatives lost the local seat, and cited immigration as one of his priorities coming into the election.

READ MORE: The South London Conservative stronghold where voters wouldn't trust Keir Starmer to 'run a bath, let alone the country'

Peter Cross, 75, Beckenham, Bromley, London, UK
Peter Cross, 75, has lived in Beckenham for the past 20 years -Credit:Joe Coughlan

He told the LDRS: "I don’t blame them for trying to come over here but no one seems to be able to handle it. No one seems to be able to stop it. You can't get a doctor's appointment. You can't get a hospital appointment. You can't get the dentist. Why? There's too many people here. It’s as simple as that."

The local said he was aware of residents wanting a change after 14 years of a Conservative administration, but claimed a Labour government would be 'ten times worse'. However, data from Electoral Calculus stated that Labour are predicted to win the Beckenham and Penge seat by a significant 25.9 per cent majority.

Alicia Page, 34, said she feels the realigned ward boundaries could play to the benefit of prospective Labour voters. The Lewisham West and Penge ward has been consistently represented by Labour since it was created in 2010, with the party winning by a huge 41.4 per cent majority in the previous General Election.

Alicia Page, 34, Beckenham, Bromley, London, UK
Alicia Page, 34, said she approved of Labour’s plans to tax private school fees -Credit:Joe Coughlan

Ms Page, who has lived in Clock House for the past four years, said she and her partner approved of Labour’s plans to tax private school fees. She added that the price of childcare was a significant concern for her family, with the costs preventing her from returning to work for over two years after going on maternity leave.

She told the LDRS: "Childcare for us is impossible without affordability and going back to work. It means I haven't been able to go back to full time because we can't afford it because of the government funding, lack of funding and childcare places."

Rob Rorrison, 40, has lived in Beckenham for five years and named wealth inequality as the key issue he wanted to see addressed in the election. He claimed services such as the NHS had been affected by funds not being properly allocated by the government, and felt that Rishi Sunak appeared 'out of touch' and 'delusional' to members of the public.

He told the LDRS: "I think the way that Labour have set their stall out, I think I can see people maybe switching a little bit over to there… I imagine it'll be quite tight in this area, but overall across the country it will probably be Labour."

Rob Rorrison, 40, Beckenham, Bromley, London, UK
Rob Rorrison, 40, said wealth inequality was the key issue he wanted to see addressed in the election -Credit:Joe Coughlan

John Lawrence, 78, said that after spending three years living in Beckenham, he is unable to predict how the area will be represented in the election. He said that while he was unsure who to vote for, he felt immigration was an issue that needed to be resolved by the incoming government.

He told the LDRS: "It’s very difficult to tell. I think people are disheartened by the Conservatives. They virtually seem to have given up. Equally, the Labour Party doesn't appear to offer anything except maybe a tax increase here and there. So I think people are deeply puzzled, we'll have to see."

He added: "I think the government should at least name what the main issues are. I think that we have to look at the situation regarding the level of immigration. You’re obviously not going to stop it altogether. There must be absolutely no question of any ill will towards people who are already here but you can't go on as we are."

Have a story you want to share? Email joseph.coughlan@reachplc.com.

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