General Election, South Northamptonshire, June 2017 – Liberal Democrat Candidate Statement
I moved to Towcester in 1996 with my wife Linda and their two daughters. I was employed by South Northamptonshire Council as deputy chief executive before retiring in 2010. Public service has been a consistent theme in my life having worked for over 30 years in local government. During that time I have worked on projects with both local and central government departments. Preserving and improving the environment is a key interest reflecting my formal training as an environmental health officer.
Since being elected as a district and county councillor I have supported local communities by making sure they have a strong voice. I have led various campaigns and have successfully fought to ensure that local priorities are recognised by decision makers. As a councillor I have built up strong connections with various local groups advising and supporting them when required.
Volunteering as a school governor, charity trustee and an active gardener with the National Trust keeps me in touch with local people and exposes me to a broad range of views and opinions.
We Liberal Democrats have set out our vision in key policy areas on our website so rather than set these out here in detail, I will summarise what I feel are the main issues for South Northamptonshire.
Europe – Liberal Democrats are the only party that has consistently championed Britain’s membership of the European Union because we believe that we are stronger within the EU. We respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum but believe that British people should have a vote on the final deal that government negotiates with Europe. The terms of Brexit will have a huge impact on jobs, security and the opportunity to travel and live abroad. South Northamptonshire has strong links with Europe through motorsport, agriculture, and world class electronics companies and continuing these links will be vital for our local economy. I believe that continued access to European markets, the customs union and skilled employees. The government should therefore be made to put their deal to the British people before it is finalised.
Education – I am a local school governor and know only too well the financial pressures on school budgets. Education is at the heart of what Liberal Democrats stand for. It is the key to freedom and opportunity, and a vital part of creating the fairer society our Party seeks to build. To deliver a society where every young person, no matter what their background or circumstance, can grow up to achieve anything they set their mind to schools need adequate funding. The current government has not kept school funding in line with rising pupil numbers. Across Northamptonshire secondary schools alone are set to loose £46 million from budgets by 2019 which means a cut of some 1,227 teachers. I would fight to halt the drive for free schools and grammar schools that Conservatives are pushing as these unplanned schools divert funds from main stream education.
NHS – We know we need additional investment in health and care services as a matter of urgency. The Horton Hospital is again under threat. The Liberal Democrats would give it the funds it needs and make sure local patients have a greater say in its future rather than just managers in Oxford. We would also like to see health and care services delivered in a more integrated way and to empower people to take more control of their care through personal budgets which allow people to choose services to fit their individual needs.
HS2 and the Environment – Now that the campaign to stop HS2 has been lost what we need to do is minimise the impact on local communities. Not only must adequate compensation be paid to those directly impacted, the local environment must also be protected. The Conservative government have a poor record on environmental issues. I have been campaigning hard for Towcester’s relief road to cut pollution levels in the town centre. I am urging the government to make its report and action plan on air pollution public. Andrea Leadsom, as Environmental Secretary, has spent public money in the courts trying to keep her report secret. Liberal Democrats say action is needed now to cut air pollution as it is a local and national scandal.
Chris Lofts – Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate