With the general election coming up I thought it might be useful to supply some information on our candidates for the Shipley/Bingley area. I have contacted Philip Davies (Conservative) Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality Party), Steve Clapcote (Labour) and Caroline Jones (Lib Dem) with the same questions. I will update this page with their responses as they come through.
Labour – Steve Clapcote
First of all, I want to say how shocked and sickened I am by what happened in Manchester last night. The deliberate targeting of children by a suicide bomber is abhorrent.
1) Please tell us about yourself I’m 45 years old and was born in Poole, Dorset. My mum and dad both left school at 15 without any formal qualifications and went on to work as a shop assistant at the Co-op (mum) and a clerical worker for the local council and then a delivery driver (dad). I went to state schools then worked as a stockman on a farm before becoming the first member of my family to go to university. My scientific career has taken me around the UK and to Toronto, Canada. I moved to West Yorkshire in 2008 for a job at Leeds University, where I teach and lead research on neurological disorders and their treatment. Outside work, I’m a governor of a primary school and a secondary school. In my spare time, I enjoy pottering around in my garden.
2) If elected what would you do to improve Bingley? As MP for Bingley, I’d have a voice in Parliament to speak up for the town. Being an MP also gives one the opportunity and raised profile to get publicity in the media for various campaigns. Bingley is a nice place to live and benefits from its rail link into Leeds and Bradford. But the economic activity in the town centre has declined with the closure of the Bradford and Bingley HQ, which brought jobs and workers into the centre – these people used local shops and food outlets and boosted the local economy. I want Bingley to be an attractive place to live and work. As your MP, I would talk to local residents and businesses for their views on how they think Bingley could be improved and what they would like doing. I believe in bottom-up rather than top-down politics, and I’ll be there to help wherever I can.
3) What are your thoughts on the cuts to education, if elected how would you oppose this? Ditto NHS. I am opposed to the cuts in education and the lack of funding to the NHS. As the Labour candidate, I’ve been opposing the cuts by telling residents what they mean in terms of fewer teachers for each local school, which can be obtained from schoolcuts.org.uk. If elected as MP for Bingley, the chances are that we would have a Labour government (as Labour likely needs to win in Shipley to have a majority). We will make sure schools are properly resourced by reversing the Conservatives’ cuts and ensuring that all schools have the resources they need. We will introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off, while redressing the historical underfunding of certain schools. We will reduce class sizes to less than 30 for all five-, six-, and seven-year-olds, and seek to extend that as resources allow. We will introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees. If there isn’t a Labour government, I’ll keep speaking on school funding cuts and asking questions of education ministers, to hold the government to account for the damage that they are doing.
On the NHS, Labour will commit to over £30 billion in extra funding over the next Parliament through increasing income tax for the highest 5 per cent of earners and by increasing tax on private medical insurance, and we will free up resources by halving the fees paid to management consultants.
4) Bingley Children’s centre has now been effectively closed – it’s a huge loss to this town. How would you have helped prevent its closure? Sure Start children’s centres, and the support they give to vulnerable and hard-to-reach parents, were one of the great achievements of the previous Labour government, but under the Conservatives 1,200 Sure Start children’s centres have been lost. Labour will halt the closures and increase the amount of money available for Sure Start. That extra funding would increase the opening hours of Bingley’s children’s centre and mean that it wouldn’t be effectively closed any more.
5) What are your views on the proposed incinerator? I’m joining Keighley’s Labour candidate John Grogan in opposing the plans for an incinerator on the proposed site.
6) What are your views regarding the old B and B site? The latest I heard was that Lidl will submit a planning application for a supermarket on the site to Bradford Council shortly. While I’m sure that Aldi wouldn’t appreciate the competition, I’m not opposed to Lidl’s proposal in principle. I think the site should be used for jobs and make the centre of Bingley more attractive.
7) Why should we vote for you?:- To be completed.
8) Why should we vote for Labour?:- To be completed.
Lib Dem – Caroline Jones
1) Please tell us about yourself. I was born in West Yorkshire and now live in Burley-in-Wharfedale. I am the business manager at a primary school, where my job involves working closely with staff, children and parents, all aspects of finance and funding, HR and facilities management.
I am married to Bob and have three grown-up children.
2) If elected what would you do to improve Bingley? Bingley has a new ambitious town council. I was the first chair of Burley Parish Council so I know how it feels to be starting from scratch I would work with the town council and the local district councillors to get the best deal for Bingley
3) What are your thoughts on the cuts to education – if elected how would you oppose this? The Liberal Democrats oppose the cuts to school budgets and would invest an extra £7bn to protect against rising costs. This would be paid for by not enacting a number of Conservative tax cuts including not cutting the rate of corporation tax.
We would put 1p on income tax as an interim measure to invest £6bn a year in health and social care. In the longer term and as a replacement for the 1p Income Tax rise, we would commission the development of a dedicated health and care tax on the basis of wide
consultation, possibly based on a reform of National Insurance contributions,
4) Bingley Children’s centre has now been effectively closed – it’s a huge loss to this town. How would you have helped prevent its closure? The Government has made massive cuts to local council budgets which have disproportionately affected areas like BMDC at the expense of richer, Conservative voting areas in the south of England. The Liberal Democrats on Bradford Council have made their own budget proposals including cutting the level of allowances paid to the overlarge number of Labour councillors who are eligible for ‘ special responsibility allowances’.
5) What are your views on the proposed incinerator? We should reduce, recycle and reuse materials to cut the amount of waste produced and I don’t think we take this seriously enough. Any incinerator application has to go through a strict regulation process as part of the planning process and would have to operate to strict environmental standards. I support the objectors who are rightly trying to hold the powers that be to account by seeking a judicial review of the process. The alternative to incineration, once waste has been reduced is landfill which is expensive and difficult.
6) What are your views regarding the old B and B site? The quicker it gets built on the better but I do worry that there may be too many food outlets which could result in one closing leaving another vacant site somewhere else in the town.
7) Why should we vote for you?
8) Why should we vote Lib Dem?
This country needs a proper opposition in Parliament to hold the Government to account and to scrutinise what they do. That is essential in a democracy. Labour have shown over the last two years under Jeremy Corbyn that they are simply not up the job. A group of Lib Dem MPs will make it their job to make sure that a majority Conservative administration is not able to steamroller through everything they want.