Here Mark Jewell, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Preston, answers your questions….Advertisement
1. In Preston town centre there are office blocks full of public sector workers at Lancs County Council, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions. Most political parties are proposing public sector cuts. So what would you do to protect their jobs and also not lose their spending power that is important for many town centre businesses?
The financial crisis has hurt Britain’s finances badly. Only the Liberal Democrats have a costed manifesto that identifies how we will fund our priorities and repay our massive deficit. As a part of this economic recovery plan, the Liberal Democrats believe it would be unwise to start cutting back public spending when the economy is still fragile. It would pull the rug from under the recovery and cost people their jobs. On Lancashire County Council the LibDems will continue to resist Tory cuts.
The LibDems also want to raise the tax threshold to£10,000. This would mean £700 back in the pocket of ordinary workers. For many part time and low paid workers earning less then £10,000 they would pay no tax at all.
6. Walking my son to school in a morning the pavements are full of dog muck, glass and litter. It looks horrible & is dangerous. How will you clean up Preston?
Liberal Democrats on Preston City Council are taking the lead on addressing the issues important you. Following an independent review that said dog fouling was the single most dissatisfactory issue effecting people in Preston, it was the LibDems who put forward proposals to pay for out of hours enforcements to actually do something about the problem.
Labour Councillor’s not only had nothing in their budget to deal with the problem, but also voted against our proposals. They were nonetheless, passed.
8. Proposed Death Tax – When will all pensioners in need of care be treated the same regardless of how much money they have, or whether they own a property. Consider the following scenario. Two people in the same job earning the same money all their adult life. One chooses to buy a house and save some money. The other decides he wants to rent a property and spend any spare cash he has, maybe on foreign holidays flash cars or whatever. Maybe the one buying the house and saving a bit has had to make sacrifices to do this. Why, when care is needed, does the one with the money and the property have to fund his own care, whilst the other person, who has had a whale of a time spending all he has earned, then have the state pay for all his needs? Where is the justice in that?
Liberal Democrats have previously advocated free care. However, recognising the economic situation we are being honest with the electorate and saying we cannot afford this at this time. Whilst others have treated this important issue as a political football, a Liberal Democrat government would immediately establish an independent commission to develop future proposals for long term care. We believe the eventual solution must be based on the principles of fairness, affordability and sustainability.
9. Which candidates actually really welcomes students? Ones I’ve spoken to give me the impression we’re not welcome in Preston?
Students are a significant part of life in Preston. UCLan itself makes a significant contribution to the local and regional economy. Liberal Democrats do not believe the the opportunity to study should depend upon the bank balance of your parents. Instead, everyone who meets the entry requirements should have the opportunity to go to Uni/ study further. For this reason LibDems will scrap tuition fees starting with final year students in this coming academic year. Our plan will mean that over 6 years no -one will pay tuition fees.
10. How will you improve employment opportunities for young people in the city of Preston? Many are leaving school or college to find there is no work & no hope.
The Liberal Democrats will begin our term of office with a one year job creation and green economic stimulus plan. We will invest in wind energy, energy efficiency in public buildings and homes and bring empty homes back into use through renovation. We will give extra help to young people, so their future is protected, with 800,000 internships to help build their experience.
For young people out of work we will provide help from day one, with a guarantee that they will not spend more than 90 days on jobseekers allowance before they get more training, education an internship or a place on a work programme. We will fully fund apprenticeships so that employers aren’t left out of pocket and more young people can be trained on the job.
11. When are the public going to be told the extent of public money spent on duplicated, or unnecessary jobs? Do we need to have 67 quangos, employing 28000 officials, spending £3,157,000,000 a year in one government department… i.e. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (DEFRA) The Food Standards Agency (FSA) includes 37 committees, such as ‘The Advisory Body for the Delivery of Official Controls’, ‘The Food StandardsSampling Coordination Working Group’. Which party will make a commitment to reduce the above?
As a part of the LibDems costed manifesto we have identified cutting quango’s across government as part of our savings proposals.
12. How will you improve the health and mental well being of people in Preston?
This is a really big and complex question. As far as our policies on health go our first priority is to protect front line services by making the NHS work better with the money it has and investing the money we save back into front line services. Entitlements to treatment will be backed up by a guarantee that if the NHS doesn’t treat you in time, it will pay for you to go private. We will save money in the long term by investing in public health. Rather than treating the symptom it is better to educate and promote preventative measures where possible.The wider context of this relates to the complex social issues tied up with health inequalities. It is not acceptable that someone living in a deprived area of Preston will die a whole decade sooner than someone a few streets away in the more affluent parts of Preston. LibDems will pay GP’s a bit more to provide healthcare to patients in deprived areas with the worst healthcare, paid for by rebalancing the pay system across the board. We also aim to bring social services together with healthcare. Other issues also effect health inequalities such as housing, jobs etc. See separate responses for LibDem position on these issues.
13. It has been reported in the local media that the housing market ispicking up. How will young people and first time buyers ever get a foot on the housing ladder? How will you improve accessibility to affordable housing in Preston and shorten waiting lists for social housing?
As a part of the LibDems economic stimulus package we will bring hundreds of empty homes back into use across Preston. We will do this by offering a grant (for social landlords) or a cheap loan (for private landlords) to renovate their empty homes. Not only will this provide jobs in Preston, but will begin to tackle the housing crisis.
14. Many people reading Blog Preston would like to see more sportsfacilities (Olympic sized swimming pool) & creative industries (workshops/improved museums/libraries/public art) in Preston. How will you encourage that to happen?
Liberal Democrats believe the arts and sport are a central part of civic and community life. We would improve local sporting facilities by setting up a capital fund. We would close loopholes that allow playing fields to be sold or built upon without going through the normal planning procedures. We would also cut the red tape for putting on live music.
However, the biggest thing your MP can do is simply speak up for Preston.Your current Labour
MP has failed to do this for the National Football Museum in Preston, which now faces closure.I will speak up for Preston to promote its sporting and creative life.
15. The Surestart Children’s Centres in Preston provide a lifeline &essential support to families with young children in the city. Will you continue to support and build on all the work already put in place over the past 13 years & if so how will you do that?
Contrary to Labour claims, the Liberal Democrats will not scrap sure start. We will keep it as it is.