The Chingford and Woodford Green MP discusses what issues are plaguing his constituents and what he is focused on to improve the lives of residents in the community.

Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, became an elected member of parliament in 1992.

During his tenure he has tackled issues such as knife crime, NHS funding and gambling addictions.

He said: ""There are many local issues I work on day to day, however speaking to residents each weekend it’s clear some of their key local priorities in the constituency include, for example, support for the redevelopment and building of a new Whipps Cross Hospital. New investment is needed to bring the facilities into the 21st century and I am working to support the application made to the government and Department of Health & Social Care by NHS Barts Trust Whipps Cross Hospital and the local council to help secure significant redevelopment investment of £350 million.

"I recently raised this matter in Prime Minister’s Questions and progress is being made which is great news for the area. I will continue to make the case to government that Whipps Cross Hospital must be a priority for much needed investment.”

He is committed to meeting with constituents each week, along with conservative councillors, to discuss local issues which concern residents in the community.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Very real concerns have been raised regarding the Mayor of London’s decision to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the North and South Circular from 2021, meaning drivers of older cars will have to pay a £12.50 daily charge even for short journeys, whether for hospital appointments or picking up children from school within my constituency.

"We all want a better environment in north-east London and air quality in London has improved in recent years as a result of policies to reduce emissions, primarily from road transport, although there is still more that can be done, working people who are trying to get on in life should not be footing the bill for the ULEZ charge. I am calling on the Mayor of London to think again on this proposal."

One of the specific initiatives Mr Duncan Smith has been working on is to save the 15 minutes free on-street parking scheme in Waltham Forest which has been raised as a concern for many residents.

He said: “I have been closely with local conservative councillors and residents to save the ‘15 minutes free on-street parking’ scheme in Waltham Forest. However I think this should go further and increase to 30 minutes and also expand the scheme to council car parks in Redbridge.

"Our local high streets need support and I am committed to making sure residents have the best possible opportunities to access them across the constituency. This government has made available the Future High Streets Fund to support and fund local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future. I have written to both Waltham Forest and Redbridge councils encouraging an application to help with provision for more free car parking."

According to a Commons Library Briefing published in October 2018, the UK high streets is undergoing a prolonged period of upheaval.

In the year to August 2018, 28 retail companies with multiple stores have ceased trading, affecting 2,085 stores and 39,000 jobs according to the Centre for Retail Research.

The Local Data Company found that 11.2% of retail premises were vacant in the second half of 2017, up from 11.0% in the first half of 2017. This is the first time that the ‘vacancy rate’ has risen since the Local Data Company began collecting this data in 2012.

Another large concern for the Chingford and Woodford Green are local libraries.

Campaigners across the borough have fought against the proposed closures of libraries.

Waltham Forest Council consulted more than 3,400 residents between September 2016 to January 2017 on its plans for libraries and the future of library services in the borough.

The consultation found more than 70 per cent of respondents wanted greater community involvement in the management of libraries.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Unfortunately, Waltham Forest are planning to close Wood Street Library and move it to a smaller premises, whilst Redbridge Council are threatening to close Woodford Green Library too. Out and about on the doorsteps it is clear that people are passionate about our local libraries and I agree.

"I will continue fighting to ensure we retain provision of these essential services in our community, including the South Chingford Hub. We campaigned successfully to prevent this from closing, and it’s important to keep up the pressure for this essential support service to remain open and accessible for some of the most elderly and vulnerable people in our community."

He has also committed to providing more affordable housing across the borough.

Over two-thirds of social tenants have incomes in the bottom 40 per cent, and in some areas, only five per cent of tenants move each year.

Almost half of the social housing stock falls into the category of the 20 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.

Although welfare reforms have meant some three million more people are in work, there still remain some pockets of unemployment, centred often on difficult estates.

He said: "There is a clear need for affordable housing for local families in the area, although it is critical development remains organic and in keeping with the character of Chingford, Woodford Green and South Woodford. Surveys consistently show that Londoners want traditionally designed buildings rather than boxes that stand side-by-side. I firmly support the building of new homes but these must not be high-rise developments.

"Recently, I am aware that concerns have been raised about the number of 'Houses in Multiple Occupation' in South Woodford, and visited Buckingham Road before Christmas to join many from the street protesting about the former vicarage’s conversion into houses in multiple occupation.

"The term houses in multiple occupation means a house shared by three or more people who are not a household, such as a family, and share facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. As a result of my visit I wrote to Redbridge Council raising the concerns voiced by many at the protest. I understand there is real concern that the council are not doing enough to intervene when developers are ‘dividing’ homes in order to avoid the need of seeking planning permission."

Another key area of focus for the area is rising crime levels.

He said: "There are many more issues which affect people day to day, crime being a serious concern especially with the rise in tragic incidents of knife crime on our streets.

"I recently raised the issue of tackling knife crime in a Westminster Hall debate, it is a serious national concern affecting all of us and is something we should all work on together with no party political lines. I believe it is high time we did more to support families and parents so that Government’s, police, and schools, see no violent crime at all."