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What does the 2017 UK election mean for Brighton & Hove?

The UK’s snap election is literally hours away.  We’ve seen a campaign high in negativity and low in facts. In an age of sound-bites and fake news, it’s difficult to understand how it all might affect our city. BN1 contacted candidates from the four major parties, so we could ask them a set of specially chosen questions which were relevant to our community.

The Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Green Party were all pleased to participate, so here we present their unedited answers. Decide for yourself. Your opinion does matter.


Labour Party Logo

PETER KYLE MP

HOVE AND PORTSLADE

 

Why did you want to be an MP?

I wanted to be an MP because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be a voice for our local community – to work on making our community fairer, safer, and greener; to secure more opportunities for young people in our city; to protect and improve our vital public services, and to be the best possible advocate for the people living here. It’s important to me that the areas from Portslade to Hangleton to Brunswick have someone fighting their corner for them.

What’s your key promise in this campaign?

I will continue to stand up for our local community in Hove and Portslade just as I have done over the past two years. If I am re-elected I will continue to fight for a better rail service for passengers, I will continue working with local parents to oppose the Tories’ £11.5 billion cuts to our local schools, and I will continue to use my voice in Parliament to demand that any Brexit deal must benefit the people and businesses of Hove and Portslade.

How will the local community benefit if you win?

Over the last two years I have been there for every single one of my constituents – people know that my door is always open, and I have helped hundreds of local people to resolve the problems they were experiencing. The people of Hove and Portslade can count on me to be a strong voice for our community and I will always stand up for the best interests of the people living here.

Will you allow the NHS framework to be used as a money pit for private companies?

I wholeheartedly stand against privatising our NHS which the Tories are hell bent on, and I am fighting for the best possible NHS. In Brighton and Hove, we’ve been let down more than anyone else by the Tories on the health service, and we now have the worst health services in the whole country. Brighton has seen seven GP practices close in the past two years, and we have a mental health trust, a local hospital and an ambulance service all in special measures. This is a disgrace and I will be continuing to fight for the investment our public services desperately need.

What are you going to do about the erosion of our right to privacy?

Parliament, government, and technology companies must work closely together, along with the police, to ensure that the modern ways we communicate and share information enable the dignity of privacy but don’t impede the ability of law enforcement agencies to prevent harm to individuals, particularly children, and our businesses through fraud. This is one of the essential challenges of our time, and just as we as individuals must be wary of what we post publicly about ourselves, we must also be vigilant as to how the state uses information too.

How will your party help the more vulnerable members of our society?

I am incredibly proud of my personal record in standing up for vulnerable members of our society. As a backbench MP, I successfully campaigned for a change in the law to prevent vulnerable victims of domestic violence from being cross-examined by their abuser in court. I also recently spoke out in the Commons to call for an end to the practice of advertising “sex for rent”, and was delighted that the Justice Secretary agreed to take action – I know that if I am re-elected and I keep working, I will be able to get the law changed on this too. My party has always stood up for the vulnerable – from opposing the cruel bedroom tax and cuts to young peoples’ housing benefit, to campaigning for better funding for mental health treatment and standing against unfair employment tribunal fees, the Labour Party will always stand up for what is right.

What will solve the problem of homelessness in Brighton & Hove?

With one in every 69 people in Brighton and Hove being homeless, and an estimated 4,095 people sleeping rough or in emergency or temporary accommodation, this is a desperate problem for our city. Homelessness fell by almost two thirds under Labour but has doubled with Conservative Ministers in charge. The simple fact is that you can’t help the homeless if you won’t build affordable homes, but house building under the Tories has dropped to the lowest level since the 1920s. I have worked with some incredible charities over the past two years including Emmaus and Shelter, and met some amazing people doing a brilliant job at alleviating this problem. However, I believe that this problem can only truly be solved if we commit to building many more affordable homes, which is why Labour has committed to building a million new homes over the next five years, with at least half to be council houses.

Will you hold yourself accountable for any broken campaign promises?

Absolutely – although I’ve shown over the last two years that I keep the promises I make. For example, when I was elected in 2015 I pledged to create 1,000 apprenticeships in 1,000 days for young people in our city, and I am on course to achieve this – I just need some more time to finish the job!


 

Green Party

CAROLINE LUCAS MP

BRIGHTON PAVILION

 

Why did you want to become an MP?

I never set out wanting to become an MP. What motivates me is making a difference, tackling inequality and injustice, standing up for the environment and campaigning for a better future. Being an MP is a way to give people who might not otherwise be heard a voice. It’s a way to change things and change lives. It’s a huge privilege to represent an amazing place like Brighton and being an MP allows me to meet so many inspiring people and help them change things too.

What’s your key promise in this campaign?

My priority is to protect local services and continue to give Brighton a strong and independent voice in Parliament. From cuts to our schools, to a crumbling NHS and chaos on the railways, Brighton faces many challenges.  I promise to continue being an MP who works hard for you and stands up for what matters.

How will the local community benefit if you win?

Over the past seven years I’ve stood with teachers and parents against schools cuts. I’ve helped hundreds of constituents with housing and other problems. I’ve dragged Ministers to the House of Commons to answer questions about the impact of privatisation on our health services. I’ve successfully challenged the PM over changes to business rates and stood up against the potential risks of an extreme Brexit. If the people of Brighton re-elect me, I’ll continue listening to their concerns and fighting their corner.

Will you allow the NHS framework to be used as a money pit for private companies?

Absolutely not. I believe wholeheartedly in a publicly owned and provided, free and universal NHS and was proud to lead the parliamentary opposition to the Health and Social Care Act. I also introduced the NHS Reinstatement Bill to Parliament, to reverse the creeping privatisation of the NHS we have seen under successive governments.

What are you going to do about the erosion of our right to privacy?

In Parliament, I’ve been a consistent opponent of laws designed to undermine our right to privacy, especially online. I even brought a successful legal case to stop the Government having the right to snoop on constituents communications. In the current climate, and given the horrific terror attacks of recent weeks, it’s critical to ensure that our civil liberties are protected, especially given the scant evidence cracking down on them deters terrorists, and plenty to demonstrate that our fundamental safety and security is implicitly tied up with our freedoms and rights.

How will your party help the more vulnerable members of our society?

Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world, and it is shameful that last year 1million food parcels were handed out. Every week I meet and talk to residents that are struggling because of the housing crisis, cuts to financial support for disabled people, the Government’s attacks on public services and other cruel and callous policies. The Green Party’s solutions include action on rent levels to bring them in line with what people can afford, a fairer tax system so those with the broadest shoulders pay more, scrapping the bedroom tax, and reversing cuts to housing benefit and other vital support that people need.

What will solve the problem of homelessness in Brighton & Hove?

There are no silver bullets but there are some things we can do today to significantly reduce homelessness. Bringing empty homes back into use, reversing cuts to housing benefits, building ½ million affordable homes, 5 year tenancies as standard and affordable rents would all help prevent homelessness. And we need to invest in services and support for those that are already homeless, including requiring local authorities to help anyone made homeless, giving them the funding to fulfil their duties and stopping declaring people “intentionally homeless”.

Will you hold yourself accountable for any broken campaign promises?

Absolutely. I’ve also always held regular weekly MP surgeries to ensure I’m accessible to constituents and I’ve campaigned for the right to recall too, so residents can hold me fully to account in between elections.


 

Liberal Democrats

EMILY TESTER

BRIGHTON KEMPTOWN

 

Why do you want to be an MP?

I was elected as a Councillor in Littlehampton in 2015. It’s been amazing to see the difference that you can have on peoples’ lives and the local community. When the chance came to stand for Parliament in Brighton Kemptown in the event of a snap election, I saw it as a huge opportunity to be a liberal voice for a very liberal city. Now the election has been called, I relish the chance to be the truly progressive, pro-European candidate in Brighton Kemptown.

What’s your key promise in this campaign?

This is truly an extraordinary general election, and it will be fought on one issue only: The European Union. I am proud that my party campaigned against Brexit, and that we are the only party standing in Kemptown fighting against a hard Brexit. I believe the people of Britain deserve to have their say on any final Brexit deal – with the option to Remain being on the ballot.

How will the local community benefit if you win?

I am campaigning against school cuts in Brighton and Hove – under the Conservatives, our schools are set to lose over £13.9 million from their budgets by 2019. That means 373 fewer teachers in our schools. I know how difficult it is to afford housing in the South East. As a town councillor in West Sussex, I am campaigning not just for more affordable housing, but for the necessary facilities like GPs surgeries and bus routes to make it a home. Our party believes we must create a Housing Investment Bank to invest in more affordable housing and improve renters’ rights.

Will you allow the NHS framework to be used as a money pit for private companies?

It’s so important to me that the NHS has the funding and support it needs to function at its best. We shouldn’t be looking to private companies to make up the funding gap. Instead the Liberal Democrats have proposed a 1p increase on income tax as an interim measure, which will go directly into health and social care.

What are you going to do about the errosion of our right to privacy?

The Liberal Democrats as a party have a strong record of protecting our civil liberties. On state-surveillance we were the only ones in Parliament to fight against Government proposals to collect and store all our web histories for 12 months, a mass surveillance programme that would cost billions. I am also strongly against any movements to scrap the Human Rights Act.

How will your party help the more vulnerable members of our society?

Mental health is a huge problem in this country. Our services are chronically underfunded, and neither Labour nor the Conservatives have outlined how they will fund mental health services. By adding a penny to income tax, we will increase funding for the NHS in Brighton and Hove by £20 million, £5 million of which is dedicated towards mental health services.

What will solve the problem of homelessness in Brighton & Hove?

In tangent with the increased funding for mental health services in Brighton and Hove, we will put pressure on local councils to each have a provider of housing for the homeless. I personally would also support additional supported housing for those with more complex needs. Given the severity of the homelessness crisis in Brighton in particular I will be a strong advocate of these proposals and will apply pressure on the council to prioritise funding for homelessness services and to meet their affordable housing targets.

Ultimately the solution to homelessness must also include an improved housing policy to reduce the risk of people slipping into homelessness and to aid those already on the street. The local party intends make housing a key topic in the 2019 council elections, as well as for this general election – we’ve been in correspondence with ocal housing trusts and a homeless charity on developing our city housing policy and have been watching housing projects in other council areas with keen interest.

Will you hold yourself accountable for any broken campaign promises?

As a party in opposition, it is difficult to foresee the realities of putting policies into action when in government. Situations can change and force you to rethink the direction of a policy, but I would always be open and honest about this. This is how our democracy works, and if I am elected and cannot deliver on a policy, then I would have to apologise to my constituents.


The UK General Election comes to libraries, community centres and church halls across the British Isles on hurs 8 June, as part of the democratic process.

For more information on how to participate, visit: https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk

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