What Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem candidates had to say on the campaign trail in Preston

Posted on - 3rd July, 2024 - 6:30pm | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston News
Trevor Hart (Conservatives), Sir Mark Hendrick (Labour) and Neil Darby (Lib Dem) are competing to be Preston’s MP Pic: Blog Preston

Ten candidates are competing to be the Preston MP representing the electorate in parliament, we caught up with the three main political party candidates for the city during their final weekend of campaigning.

Sir Mark Hendrick has been the Labour (Co-op) MP for Preston for 24 years this is his eighth campaign. At the previous election in 2019 he secured a 12,146 majority.

Trevor Hart is the Conservative and Unionist candidate and previously held the post Mayor of Preston from 2018-19 as well as being a councillor for 13 years in Preston. 

Read more: See all our general election coverage

Candidate for the Liberal Democrats is Neil Darby deputy group leader on Preston City Council’s opposition. He also held Mayor of Preston in 2022-23. 

All above candidates were questioned on a range of topics including Rishi Sunak’s community programmes like national service, the state of the city centre, healthcare and education plans.

Sir Mark Hendrick Labour candidate for Preston.

Sir Mark told Blog Preston: “If people want to do a stint in the army that’s fine, but the compulsory nature of it is ridiculous.

“Service is service you do it because you think you should be doing it not because you’re forced, it’s a form of conscription in some way.

“I totally agree with the aims and objective, but not with the methods they’re using.”

The scheme would promote a shared sense of purpose among young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country according to Rishi Sunak.

Trevor Hart Conservative candidate for Preston

Trevor Hart told Blog Preston: “I don’t have a problem. Let’s understand what he’s saying, we need to give back to society.

“You can volunteer in all sorts of other things, or you can sign up for national service if you want to.

“There is only a limited number of places you’re not forced, what you’re asked is to contribute back to society.

“At the same time learn valuable skills, now what’s wrong with that, surely what we want for our youth.”

Neil Darby regarding national service told Blog Preston: “It’s a great headline isn’t it, when you look at the details Rishi Sunak was talking about, he was talking about a couple of weekends a year or volunteering. 

Neil Darby Liberal Democrat candidate for Preston

Blog Preston pointed out we live in a dangerous world, the war in Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Gaza is not a time to be complacent, so you would rule conscription out?

Mr Darby said conscription is not the answer, he wants to reinvest in the armed forces, and increase spending on defence to the target of two and a half per cent. The Conservatives have already promised to meet this target.

“We need to get to be a credible force in this world where we stand up to Russia and any other threats, no, I don’t believe in conscription. I don’t think it’s the way to do it,” said Mr Darby.

Read more: Meeting the multi-millionaire Yousuf Bhailok who wants to be Preston’s next MP

One of the main issues in Preston is the closed and empty retail outlets in Preston city centre. 

Friargate, is the gateway to the city centre leading from UCLan’s imposing, modern and futuristic student centre leading up to the historic and magnificent Harris Museum which is to reopen in 2025 after refurbishment.

Sir Mark said: “The world is changing fast, when I got elected 24 years ago I walked down Fishergate to the rail station and all the top high street brands where there, Debenhams, HMV, not many there now.

“The internet is part of the problem, a lot of people buying more online, people shopping out of town. The Covid crisis speeded up the online revolution.

“I think a lot of retail properties will probably turn into residential properties there’s a change on the high street the way we look at things. 

“We’re not going back to the past, looking to the future and the best use of high streets, partly for accommodation, partly for leisure, the high streets of the past, I don’t think are coming back.”

Trevor Hart told Blog Preston: “This is exactly the problem with Preston we’ve got this area here in Friargate with eight or nine units closed, all boarded up. 

“Work has been done at each end of Friargate, the UCLan learning centre and the Harris Museum, lots of money spent there.

“We’ve to get Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council together sit down to look at what we can do to enable these units to open and bring life back into Preston. I will pledge to work with those people to make it happen.”

Read more: Ribble Valley general election candidates set out why they should earn your vote

In Sir Keir Starmer’s manifesto it states one of the six key pledges includes recruiting 6,500 teachers.

Sir Mark tells Blog Preston the how extra teachers would help Preston: “We need teachers, Sir Keir has promised specialist teachers, to do more maths, more science.

“To attract people from industry people who are studying those things instead of going into the finance sector, we want them to go into schools and give young pupils the skills they need to get on in the world.

“Making Britain a better place, making sure people are coming through and having a good technological background and skills.

“The 21 first century needs people with those type of skills, it’s only by economic growth will this country grow into something we will need in the future.”

Trevor Hart is passionate about education spent his working life in education as a teacher starting as deputy headteacher at Queen’s Drive Primary School and headteacher of Lea Community Primary School both in Preston.

He told Blog Preston: “Let’s talk about Preston, where are they going to go, right we have an issue where there are not enough classrooms available to put those teachers in.

“Big conversations taking place about school places in Preston. We’re seeing schools expanding in the Cottam and Ingol area, we’re waiting for more money to be able to build more schools. 

“Lancashire Education will provide those places they need, the right number of places for children in Preston.

“It’s all very well saying you’re going to put a lot of money in and bring lots of teachers in, we haven’t the school places to put them in now.”

Ed Davey leader of the Lib Dems if has pledged in the manifesto if he becomes Prime Minister, they will provide free personal care to older or disabled people at home, improved conditions for care workers and closer cooperation between the NHS and social care.

Blog Preston caught up with Neil Darby out and about campaigning he had this to say: “NHS and Social Care we think needs dealing with together.

“We want to spend 8.3 billion pounds extra to hire more nurse, more doctors, more GPs because we think everyone should have the right to see a GP in seven days or within 24 hours in an emergency. 

“We’re conscious we need to start fixing hospitals to many of our healthcare staff might be world class, but they’re let down by the facilities around them. 

“We need to reform the system altogether to bring health and social care into one package. The health needs of our nation are so different to what they were 76 years ago when the NHS was set up. 

“The way we can deal with this in the long term is to recognise that and roll into the wider system.”

Blog Preston asked if dementia would be included in this package Mr Darby said: “Absolutely, my great grandma sadly died from dementia, it’s an issue meaning lots to me.

“The wider care is so much more than either the NHS or social care system can deal with now which is why you need to bring them all together. 

The other candidates standing in the general election on Thursday 4 July in Preston are:

Yousuf Bhailok (Independent)

David Brooks (Alliance for Democracy and Freedom)

James Elliot (Reform UK)

Derek Killeen (UKIP)

Michael Lavalette (Independent)

Isabella Metcalfe-Riener (Greens)

Joseph O’Meachair (Rejoin EU)

See all our coverage from the Preston general election hustings

Preston general election hustings: Candidates opening pitches to voters

Alleged ‘rundown’ state of Preston city centre blamed on car policies and cost-of-living crisis

Preston predicted to end up with two hospitals in next decade

State of Preston’s streets likely to remain top priority for residents

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