Fylde general election candidates set out why they should earn your vote

Posted on - 2nd July, 2024 - 5:08pm | Author - | Posted in - Freckleton, Fylde News, Kirkham, Politics, Preston News, Warton
Fylde hustings candidates
Fylde hustings candidates

More than a hundred people shunned football in favour of politics as they put some of Fylde’s prospective MPs under the spotlight ahead of this week’s general election.

At a hustings debate which coincided with England beating Slovakia to reach the Euro 2024 quarter-finals, four of the seven candidates contesting the constituency were quizzed over the issues that matter most to the voters poised to decide who to send to Westminster.

The event – organised by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Lancashire Post, Blackpool Gazette, Lancashire Lead and Blog Preston – was staged at the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham and featured questions about the controversial Morgan and Morecambe energy development in the area, as well as integrity in politics.

Read more: Savings required at Preston and South Ribble hospitals will add to local NHS challenges

Those in attendance at Sunday afternoon’s gathering also got the chance to probe the would-be MPs directly when on-the-spot questions were invited from the floor.

Before the debate got underway, each of the candidates present was given the chance to make their 90-second pitch to the people of Fylde. This is what each of the election hopefuls had to say (in alphabetical order):

Anne Aitken (Independent)

‘I’m a nurse – and I’m standing because of what’s happened to the NHS’

“I’m not a politician…I’ve never stood for the council.  What I am is a nurse of 40 years, a resident of Fylde, a mother of three and a grandmother of two-and-a-half, with one on the way.

“The reason I’m here is because I love the Fylde. I’ve grown up with the farmers, I’ve grown up with the fishermen. I know what the issues are. I never put myself out as being a politician, but I suppose what you could say is I am a diplomat – and that’s what all mothers are and that’s what all nurses are.

“I have retired from nursing, but I’ve gone back two days because we’ve no staff.  And I just thought, ‘What is happening to the NHS for my grandchildren and our children?’   So that’s the reason I’m here today.

“I can’t profess to answer all your questions, but I have spoken to a lot of people in the Fylde, and I’ve learned more in the last four weeks about the Fylde than I have in the 62 years that I’ve lived here.”

Tom Calver (Labour Party)

‘I’ll be transparent – and if you need me, I’ll be there for you’ 

“A vote for Labour in the Fylde is a vote to reduce our NHS waiting lists, which have risen 1,800 in the past year alone – [and to] to improve access to community health and dental care.  It’s a vote to reverse the decline in teacher numbers, so that all our children get a decent education – and for more support for young people, both at school and in the community.

“It’s a vote for more police, undoing cuts that mean 90 percent of crime now goes unsolved, and a vote for economic stability, tackling energy prices, mortgage rates and spiralling rents. And it’s a vote to end the disgusting practice of sewage-dumping carried out by United Utilities, choking our waters, fouling our beaches.

“Now, none of this is going to be easy or quick. There’s a difficult economic legacy that we’ll have to overcome, but we have the focus and the commitment to do it – my leadership and me.  And, if elected, my job is going to be to use my knowledge and skills from over 20 years in public services to ensure we get our share of those new opportunities [and] to challenge plans as well – like the current wind farm infrastructure that threatens disruption and damage across this constituency.

“A vote for me is also a vote for integrity and transparency – you’ll know what I’m doing, you’ll know who I’m talking to. You’ll know how I’m voting – and I’ll tell you why. There’ll be no slush funds and no secrets. I won’t be calling anyone at 3am because I’ve been locked in a room by bad people.  But if you call me, I’ll be there for you.”

Mark Jewell (Liberal Democrats)

‘I know the area well – and will fight for a fair deal’

“I am a Preston city councillor, representing an area that was within the Fylde constituency before the boundary changes.  I live within that ward on the west side of Preston, on the boundary with Fylde.

“I have worked for a local aerospace company for the past almost 39 years and know Fylde well – I’ve not been parachuted in. I’m incredibly proud to be standing as your Liberal Democrat candidate.

“Our manifesto is a bold, ambitious, fully-costed plan to save the NHS and fix the care crisis. The Conservatives have plunged the NHS into crisis, failing to deliver the new hospitals they promised and making people wait for an ambulance [and wait] weeks to see a GP or months for urgent cancer treatment. They have let people down and taken Fylde for granted for far too long.

“In May, we had a by-election in the Fylde, in an area of Kilgrimol, where the Liberal Democrats narrowly lost to the Conservatives by just 41 votes. Labour did not even turn up and field a candidate.  Their website also identified Fylde as a non-battleground constituency.

“It is the Liberal Democrats who are challenging the Conservatives here. I want to bring integrity as Fylde’s MP and stand for a fair deal for Fylde.”

Andrew Snowden (Conservative Party)

‘I have already delivered on several promises for Fylde’

“It is humbling to be representing an area in this election – for the Conservative Party – that I have known my whole life.  In fact, one of the first pieces of casework I will get if I am elected as [the] MP is from my dad, who used to be one of the professional cricketers at St Anne’s Cricket Club. He’s deeply perturbed that he’s only on the record board in the clubhouse for one season.  His view is he turned up [in] the second season – he might have been rubbish, but he actually came along and should be on it as well.

“And as police and crime commissioner and as county councillor and lead member for highways and transport, I’ve been working as part of Fylde and delivering investments for Fylde for the last seven years.  People don’t have to believe promises in leaflets from me, because I delivered the things I promised to Fylde.

“When I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner, I said I would reopen to the public the stations that have been closed, including right here in Fylde – which I did. I said I would put back the neighbourhood policing teams which had been removed from the more rural areas of the county, including here in Fylde -, which I did.

“And I have delivered all my promises, because I believe that local, hard-working MPs should be in touch with the constituents they serve, should know the issues and should be out there and be visible. Since being selected as the candidate. I’ve knocked on nearly 6000 doors across the Fylde with my team.”

Other candidates

All seven candidates standing in the Fylde constituency were invited to take part in the hustings event – the three who were unable to make and sent their apologies are:

Cheryl Morrison – Alliance for Democracy and Freedom

Brenden Wilkinson – Green Party

Brook Wimbury – Reform UK

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