I think that it is important that the people whom I’m asking to trust me with their votes are entitled to know my policies and aspirations for the Isle of Wight, if elected.
It’s not enough to stand as a Parliamentary Candidate and merely repeat my Party’s national policies, important though they are. Candidates should be required to explain what they will do FOR YOU AND THE ISLAND if they get elected and that is what I do here.
I believe that Islanders need and deserve a truly excellent transport system. I am proposing that the mothballed interchange be resurrected in Ryde and be fully commissioned as a transport hub.
The island’s only rail link, connecting Ryde Pier & Shanklin, should be modernized. The present dilapidated system should be replaced with a modern one, perhaps a hybrid tram system.
If successful, and I believe that it would be, there is a great opportunity to extend this using existing rail beds linking large parts of the Island, even in rural areas.
This would be an exciting opportunity and involve many stakeholders and trades, for example in planning, engineering, and, not least, job creation.
I do not need to tell you that one of the biggest transport gripes among Islanders are the ferry services. I believe that there can be a big improvement which can be
brought about by bringing together representatives of the ferry companies, the IW Council, MP and ferry users.
The ferry companies do good things, which sometimes goes unnoticed, for example with sponsorships and helping patients who need to travel to hospitals on the mainland, but there is much more that can be done, especially in the areas of fares and timetabling, by operating under a ‘public service charter’ .
I believe that the ferry companies should have representatives of the travelling public on their board of directors who should have a direct say in the management and policy of the ferry services.
I have had very positive discussions with both the ferry companies and the Labour Shadow Transport team and I believe that they would welcome further dialogue.
The Island is largely dependent on the hospitality & tourism industries and this sector has been sadly fragmented in recent years, and lacks vigour.
I will advocate a partnership between the stakeholders in Tourism, hotel and restaurant owners and associations, the IW College, the IW Council and all other interested parties to establish a Training Hotel, which would give real impetus and would create a first-class training establishment for those who see their careers developing in the hotel & catering sector.
It would mean that students would train in a real-time professional environment towards first class qualifications and go on to high quality jobs here on the Island and elsewhere. It would attract students from far and wide – as well as give Island young people a route to real, professional careers.
It surely is a disgrace that there are still 8,970 Isle of Wight children in schools that are rated by Ofsted as ‘less than good’.
This has happened on Tory MP Andrew Turner’s watch.
I believe that it is incumbent on your Member of Parliament to be involved in the most important issues affecting local residents, none more so than education on the Island which has been poor for several years under different administrations, but especially since the disastrous Pugh/Beynon ‘reorganisation’.
As MP I will take a very active part in bringing together Head Teachers, Council Officers and the Department for Education and get Island education on a secure and successful footing. Our children deserve nothing less and I will make that happen.
There needs to be a productive strategic policy in place to promote Hospitality & Tourism on the Island. I came to the Island to work in the industry, originally as a chef, and I went on to be a college lecturer in Hospitality, Tourism & Finance, so this is an area in which I have a lot of experience.
I will seek to have established a new style Isle of Wight Tourist Board, funded by those who benefit – the hospitality industry stakeholders on the Island – to substantially raise profile and standards on our beautiful Island as a holiday destination.
I applaud what Visit Isle of Wight has been doing, but it needs to be broadened and strengthened.
The Board would be made up from industry professionals, academics and members of the public with an interest in, and knowledge of, this vital industry, together with the enthusiasm and drive that is required.
There have been many problems with Local Government on the Island in recent years which has certainly not been helped by this government’s ferocious, and continuing, cuts in the Central Government Grant.
But, even before that, the previous Tory administration at County Hall embarked on a series of ideological measures which means Islanders are still suffering from the measures that they put in place. Despite its promises, the current administration – for the most part led by Ian Stephens – has shown to be incapable of stemming the cuts.
As your MP I would act as your representative and be a real advocate and conduit for Islanders, working with the IW Council’s Elected Members and Officers to get the best possible deal for Islanders.
I do not believe that Islanders will forgive its elected representatives if our Council becomes a ‘Commissioning’ council, merely rubber stamping decisions made elsewhere, perhaps in Hampshire or Southampton.
Young People – the Island’s Future
Too many of our young people feel they have to leave the Island to be educated and/or to find work. More of them could be encouraged to stay by ensuring that they have the best possible education on the Island, and then by offering them real and fulfilling jobs here.
Although it may not be possible to guarantee that they will have a job here, we should give them the best education and training opportunities, which will maximise their future employment prospects. We also need quality local jobs to make it easier for them to work and live here and perhaps raise their own families on the Island.
I will work tirelessly to make this happen, working in partnership with parents, central government, the Island’s Youth MP, our educators at all levels and all groups with an interest in the education and development of our young people – nothing less will do.
The Island’s NHS
I am passionate about the local Island National Health Service in all aspects: clinical health, mental health and social services. We cannot afford for the NHS to be neglected and your MP has a duty to ensure that it operates for the benefit of all patients, and ensure that it has the means to do so in an effective and efficient manner.
My daughter is a staff nurse working in the NHS. I know, therefore, something of its problems and challenges, and the support it needs from all of us and, particularly, from the Member of Parliament. It will get that support from me as your MP.
I will work with the local NHS Trust to to help deliver services and support it in gaining the resources it needs to do so. It was a Labour government that founded the NHS and I will fight any attempt to privatize it.
Housing & the Rented Sector
This coalition government had no housing policy whatsoever for five years. Now the Tories have decided to develop an apology for a policy which involves selling properties they don’t own – they’ve rushed out a revision of Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ programme which goes further than she ever did and will be fought all the way in the courts by the Housing Associations.
I will work with the Housing Associations operating on the Island, not against them. We have 8,000 people on the waiting lists who want a decent home -with nearly 6,000 in fuel poverty because their existing accommodation is so hard to keep warm.
We need sustainable housing development on the Island, not the present mix of speculative building with a bit of social housing tacked on.
A Labour government will build more social housing and legislate to provide guaranteed tenancies and to limit rent rises. We will also ban letting agencies from charging outrageous fees for doing nothing.
The Environment & Green Policy
We all know that the island is a beautiful place and has the benefit of many statutory protections: AONBs, SSSIs and many other designations so that it is already very well protected.
One of the perceived disadvantages of this, however, is the difficulty in getting approval for green energy projects in most parts of the Island.
I remember the much lauded Eco island initiative devised by ex-Chief Executive Joe Duckworth and the then Leader of the Council David Pugh which guaranteed that the Island would be self-sufficient in electricity by 2015! What happened to that?
It seems that Vestas is intending to start production again and I will make it a priority to attract inward investment to the Island, a task which should be made easier by Labour’s introduction of a Green Investment Bank, which will be free to lend to individuals and businesses capable of redressing the balance.
We must protect the environment whilst still realising that the countryside as we know it is almost all man-made. I will ensure that planners, developers and other stakeholders work together to ensure that the environment is protected, while realising that new development is not always a contradiction to the integrity of the environment.
Finally, I will oppose any attempts to establish ‘fracking’ on the Island, as I strongly believe that, because of our particular geology and the huge unresolved issues over safety, fracking would be disastrous here.
My promise to you.
This manifesto outlines what I believe are some of the biggest issues facing the Island. These will be some of the issues that I will make my priorities if elected to serve the Isle of Wight in Westminster.
But I also undertake, should I become your MP, to represent the views of all those on the Isle of Wight. Islanders deserve, at last, to have a strong and effective voice in parliament.
If I become MP I promise to provide that voice. Your voice.
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL OF THE DOCUMENTS PUBLISHED IN THE PUBLIC ARENA WHICH ARE RELEVANT TO MY CAMPAIGN. THIS IS DONE IN THE INTERESTS OF TRANSPARENCY.