1) What do you plan on doing for the people of Andover?
I am concerned about the provision for older people in Hampshire. At a time when the population of those above retirement age and their needs are increasing, Hampshire CC is cutting its ownership of care and nursing homes and selling them off in search of a quick profit. I would campaign for a reversal of this trend and a return to County run homes, with proper supervision. Hampshire CC is paying private companies to look after its residents, often at a rate which is too low to cover the price charged for care, leaving them to find the extra money from their own resources or finding a cheaper home which may not cater for their needs. It seems sensible to use this money to look after residents directly.
Many jobs in Andover are paid at a minimum wage and with no hopes of promotion. I would campaign to attract more businesses into Andover who would provide apprenticeships or proper careers. To do this, it may be necessary to use some of the enormous reserves hoarded by HCC to invest in apprenticeship schemes or ‘start-up’ subsidies.
The reduction in staffing throughout the Council appears to be having an effect already. In the local paper, there are 2 front page instances of errors involving the council. The bus station fiasco and the positioning of street lights (which I have personally suffered from as well) seem to have happened because there is a lack of supervision or advice. It is all very well saying that HCC is concentrating on front line services, but without the necessary back up, these sort of things are bound to happen, sometimes costing more than the staff savings. I would fight to retain the staff who provide this support as well as those who deliver.
Potholes are another result of short term savings over long term planning. It cannot be cheaper to keep on replacing damaged repairs every year than to do the job properly in the first place. I would pursue the creation of a programme of long term road repairs.
2) What have you done for the people of Andover?
As a Town councillor, I have worked with others to provide the Christmas lights for the last 2 years and am already working on this year’s selection.
I am also working on the allotments committee to improve the condition and use of Andover’s allotments.
I have also been involved in the new developments of King George Park and Topaz Gardens working as ward councillor with Test Valley Borough Council to make the best use of the money set aside for it.
I have been a school governor in Andover since moving here 12 years ago and am vice-chair at the school I am involved with now.
I also volunteer as an adviser with a national charity, dealing with such issues as debt, employment and benefits.
3) Why should people vote for you?
I have moved to Andover after living in London for 40 years then in Basingstoke. I know about living in housing association estates, tower blocks, new housing developments and now on a street. I know the conditions faced by people in all these circumstances, so I see the world and the services provided by Hampshire CC from all these aspects.
I know that many people feel divorced from the political process and for many, that ‘all politicians are the same’. In particular, thse struggling to survive on part-time jobs and minimum wages feel that no politician understands their problems. With my experience, I can say that at least I have grown up with people who have been in these situations.
I oppose the desire of the HCC councillors to cut back on services and staff purely to increase the reserve stock and maintain low taxation. It is time to use the money available to make people’s lives better – the old, the young, those on low wages and everyone who has had to put up with damage to cars due to pot-holes, ridiculous siting of street lights and the poor quality of lighting in some areas or standing in the rain waiting for buses.