SW Beds candidates explain why they deserve your vote on June 8

The five candidates for SW Beds
The five candidates for SW Beds

Ahead of Thursday’s General Election we asked the five candidates for South West Beds to explain why voters should put a cross next to their name on the ballot paper.

We asked them what key issues both in South West Beds and nationally they would look to tackle if elected.

Andrew Selous

(Conservative):

I have lived in SW Bedfordshire for 17 years and love our market towns, villages and wonderful countryside. I have been a school governor locally throughout that time. I have served as a TA soldier for 13 years and realise how important NATO and the security services are to keeping us safe.

I have worked for a small manufacturing business and a global reinsurer and I do all I can to help create more local jobs. I’m a churchgoer and work with a number of our local charities including sleeping out every winter to raise money for our local homeless charity.

As Parliament had given some of its powers away it was right to have the EU referendum and the democratic decision to leave must be respected and the opportunities for Britain to trade around the world must be fully grasped.

Our area has waited for decades for the A5-M1 link road which has opened.

Since construction started 50 new business deals in the area have been signed creating nearly 2,500 new jobs. The investment already planned so far is worth an estimated £2 bn. The Engineering and Construction skills centre opening in Leighton Buzzard will generate more high skilled, well paid jobs. The number of unemployed claimants in SW Beds has fallen from 2,158 in May 2010 to 605 in March 2017, a fall of over 70%. In recent years the United Kingdom has created more jobs than the whole of the rest of the EU put together !

None of that happened by accident; it was the result of hard decisions taken to help businesses start and expand. Mere pledges to spend more money are worthless if not backed by the policies to create the wealth we need to fight poverty and fund our schools, police and NHS properly.

Daniel Scott

(Labour):

It’s a privilege to be standing as the Labour parliamentary candidate for South West Beds. Like many people of my generation I moved to Leighton Buzzard because of the crippling cost of housing in the south east and my family and I have been fortunate to find a great community to live in. I have served as a lower school governor in Leighton Buzzard for five years and helped the school progress through a very challenging period.

I have been self-employed for 13 years and own a franchise retail business in Milton Keynes, providing print and postal services. As a small businessman I understand many of the challenges they face, particularly those in the independent retail sector.

I appreciate the challenges this constituency faces over the next few years particularly the need to accommodate essential additional housing in the most suitable locations, with adequate infrastructure.

With a growing town we will need more healthcare provision and sufficient school places as well as more employment opportunities. And all this will need to come with proper traffic planning.

What is also clear to me however is that this country cannot afford another 5 years of Conservative government. It needs a new government, a fairer one. Faced with falling living standards, growing job insecurity and shrinking public services, people are under increasing strain. Young people are held back by debt and the cost of housing. Whole families are being held back from the life they have worked towards. Now, Labour believes in a simple truth, that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

We have a plan to reward hard work, share prosperity and build a better Britain. One that will also protect the NHS that we all rely on. Labour has always stood up for the majority in this country rather than just the privileged few.

Daniel Norton

(Liberal Democrats):

I have lived in Bedfordshire since 2000 with my wife, Lucy. I hold a responsible job in the energy industry, always conscious of the impact of my decisions on millions of customers.

My passion is cycling around the lanes of Bedfordshire – there is no better way to appreciate the beauty of our area. Standing for parliament has given me the privilege of hearing the concerns of people across South West Bedfordshire – the businesses worried about the end of free movement, the teachers concerned about budget cuts and the users of health and care services suffering from a system under strain.

Theresa May has made it clear that a ‘bad deal’ Brexit will hurt our economy and public services, but she has also revealed herself to be brittle under pressure in this election. Her dementia tax U-turn has left hundreds of thousands of people worrying about the future.

‘No deal’ is not an option either. Our agreements with the EU are far more than just trade. They also govern security cooperation, air traffic control, nuclear energy and the land border with Ireland, among many other issues.

The only way to protect our country from irreversible damage is to offer a new referendum on the terms of the deal, with the option of remaining in the EU.

This election isn’t just about Brexit, but its economic impact will impair our ability to pay for the public services you want. That’s why Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour have let you down by voting with Theresa May on Brexit. With your support, we can get more votes for the Liberal Democrats and more seats in parliament. With more Liberal Democrat MPs we can preserve a better deal with Europe, protect jobs and money for the NHS and schools and look forward to a brighter future.

Morvern Rennie

(Green):

I live in Bedfordshire with my husband and children. I am standing because I feel politics has become something which is being done to us rather than something to participate in.

I want more young women and carers in Parliament as we are often hit worst by cuts. We need more greens to stand up for our environment.

In South West Beds we need better, affordable public transport. Greens will re-nationalise railways, invest in regional rail links and cancel HS2. We will invest in walking and cycling infrastructure. We will make local transport free for young people, students and people with disabilities.

Too many large scale developments are built without the infrastructure to support them, putting pressure on services. We will introduce rent controls to ensure commuters aren’t forced out of cities driving rent and house price increases. We will build social housing and prioritise development on brownfield sites.

Bedfordshire schools are at breaking point. Classes are oversubscribed and rely on fundraising for equipment. Greens will ensure the education spending deficit of £7bn is plugged. We will scrap SATs and end the academies programme placing our children’s education back in the hands of teachers and parents.

Nationally, our priority is climate change. We will ban fracking. We will roll back cuts to, and invest in renewables. Transitioning from fossil fuels will create clean air, jobs and energy independence.

We support a vote on the Brexit deal. Any deal must protect the rights of British and EU citizens to study, work and travel. We will preserve environmental protections and regulations which protect human health, animal welfare and workers’ rights.

Greens will reform tax. A Robin Hood Tax will give public services a much needed financial injection. We will introduce universal basic income which streamlines the bureaucracy of our current benefit system.

Morenike Mafoh

(Christian People’s Alliance):

Morenike Mafoh has been a member of Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) since 2014.

She moved from London with her family to Dunstable in 2001. She is an RGN and peri-operative practitioner, with experience, working in the NHS and the private healthcare sector. She is passionate about helping in the community, supports community togetherness through coffee mornings, skill training for the unemployed and holiday activities.

She is a pastor, counsellor, Sunday school teacher and a mentor to the teens and youths. While CPA largely support the approach of Theresa May on Europe, for us this election is not only about Europe. We do not support the following:

- Taking disabled people off benefits, some of whom are mentally ill

- Leaving people who apply for benefits with nothing for several weeks while their claims are being assessed.

- Spending £billions on Trident instead of having a missile shield.

- Wasting £12bn aid budget when we should spend it on people in real need in refugee camps.

- Doing nothing about marriage breakdown which the government assesses is costing the nation £48 billion per year, leaving many children damaged in broken homes.

She stands for social justice and equality, the right social care for the elderly and disables, supports meaningful employment for those who want to work, opposes NHS cuts and defends adequate additional funding to health and social care, funding education fully and fairly and reversing the £3bn real term cuts.

Terrorism must be tackled by adequate surveillance of suspects, radicalisation discouraged by proper education and awareness in schools and communities. Crime and anti-social behaviour tackled by strengthening family relationship of love and caring, providing educational and recreational facilities as necessary. CPA does not just talk about these issues, but will tackle them adequately and effectively if elected.

> The candidates for the Buckingham constituency which includes several villages in the Leighton Buzzard Observer circulation area are: John Bercow MP (Speaker), Brian Mapletoft (UKIP), Scott Raven (Independent), Michael Sheppard (Green Party).