Labour have fired the starting gun on the council election race with the launch of a manifesto that will make housing and the environment key issues in the run-up to the polls.

Libraries, wages and domestic violence are also set to at the forefront of the party's campaign ahead of the vote on May 22.

Croydon Conservatives edged the 2010 election by four seats, meaning a swing of three would secure Labour control of the council.

Coun Tony Newman, Labour group leader, said battle lines would be drawn over affordable housing and the cleanliness of the borough's streets as the party looks to make gains in marginal wards including Waddon and New Addington.

He said: "It is absolutely crystal clear to us that there is a major concern across Croydon about the state of the streets, fly-tipping and what you might call low-level anti-social behaviour. 

Whereas the current response of the council is to react to it and say they are trying to do this or that, we are clear that it will be a corporate priority and will crack down hard and positively seek prosecution as a deterrent.

"It should be a first priority of a council to keep the streets clean and safe and we don't think that's happening at the moment."

Labour also pledged to ensure 30 per cent of new housing is affordable and said "everybody" should benefit from overseas investment in Croydon.

Coun Newman said: "There should be affordable housing for local people, you shouldn't be pre-selling to the Chinese overseas market or whatever.

"Even in tough times the council is responsible for hundreds of million pounds worth of contracts a year and we also want to make sure local companies get a chance to bid for those".

He added the council would enter into negotiations with Carillion, the private firm hired by the current adminstration to run Croydon's libraries, in a bid to find a way out of the contract.

The Conservatives not yet published their manifesto.

Key Labour pledges:

  • 30 per cent affordable housing
  • Creation of Fairness Commission to recommend how to improve the quality of life across the borough
  • London living wage for all council employees and new contracts
  • Reversal of Carillion libraries contract
  • Free breakfast scheme for schoolchildren
  • Reassess domestic violence support