General Election 2019: Candidates highlight their list of priorities for Bexhill and Battle

Ballot Box NNL-190131-170735001
Ballot Box NNL-190131-170735001

The candidates for the Bexhill and Battle constituency who are standing in the General Election have highlighted their priorities for the area.

Labour’s candidate, Christine Bayliss, said the constituency badly needed extra investment.

Christine Bayliss, Labour SUS-190711-110614001

Christine Bayliss, Labour SUS-190711-110614001

She said: “The people of Bexhill and Battle are crying out for decently funded local services.

“My priority, having knocked on doors and spoken to people on social media, is making sure that extra money is invested in making sure we restore community policing to every village and neighbourhood.

“I’d want to see more investment in council housing so we can end the shortage and expense of temporary housing and we need to tackle the underfunding of social care so that every person has the guarantee of high quality compassionate support when they need it.

“Since 2010 the Conservatives have slashed council budgets. Local authority cuts must be reversed.

Jonathan Kent, Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Bexhill and Batlte

Jonathan Kent, Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Bexhill and Batlte

“I will hopefully be part of a Labour government that will invest in our communities and support the most vulnerable.

“Putting me in Parliament will mean Bexhill and Battle gets an authentic voice taking responsibility and helping to end the Brexit deadlock.

“I want to be a great constituency MP working hard for people, communities and businesses.

“I will work to end homelessness, properly fund social care and put bobbies back on the beat.

Martin Saunders, LibDems SUS-190711-122311001

Martin Saunders, LibDems SUS-190711-122311001

“I’ll be campaigning to make sure your concerns and opinions are heard in Westminster every day, every week and every year of my term as an MP.

“A vote for Labour in Bexhill and Battle will mean that you will get the final say on Brexit. Labour will renegotiate a deal that will protect jobs and the environment and put that back to you to decide along with the option to remain.”

Christine has lived in Bexhill and Battle most of her adult life and serves as a Rother district councillor for the ward of Bexhill Central and is cabinet member for Bexhill affairs and regeneration.

She was at the forefront of the Democracy4Bexhill campaign that led the charge for a town council for Bexhill.

Huw Merriman, Conservative candidate SUS-181010-200214001

Huw Merriman, Conservative candidate SUS-181010-200214001

She is a trustee of Aurora Academies Trust, a multi-academy trust based in Bexhill, as well as a trustee of Mnarani Aid, a charity that raises money for children with special educational needs in Kenya.

Christine worked for the Department for Education for 15 years.

Following a career as a civil servant, she started her own consultancy business based in Bexhill.

The Green Party’s Jonathan Kent said the priority was addressing the climate crisis.

He said: “The Green Party launched its manifesto this week, titled If Not Now, When?

“I think that’s a question we should all be asking ourselves particularly about the climate crisis.

“As that man of Sussex, Thomas Paine wrote of another crisis in the dying days of 1776: “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

“My son turns 13 in the New Year. I don’t want him or his friends, or your children and grandchildren and their friends to inherit the mess we’ve made.

“It’s our responsibility to clean up after ourselves while we still can.

“However great your car, however big your TV, however envy-inspiring your home, none of that is going to count for dust if we don’t have a planet that can support us. That’s just partying on while the house burns down.

“Another thing very much on my mind is growing inequality. We’ve spent most of our lives being told that if we work hard enough we’ll get ahead.

“People are no longer buying that. They’re working three jobs in some cases and still not paying the bills while the current Duke of Westminster inherited £10 billion just for having the right mum and dad.

“I’m not suggesting handouts. I’m saying that if we’re going to have a society where work counts then work has to pay and if people make millions without lifting a finger it has to be taxed fairly.

“I still remember the famous words of the US billionairess Leona Helmsley: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” We have to fix that. So I ask you: ‘If not now, when?’

“Greens believe that the time for a fairer and sustainable society where everyone counts is now. December 12 is your chance to send that message.”

Jonathan, who stood for the Greens in the Bexhill and Battle constituency in both the 2015 and 2017 elections, grew up in the constituency and went to school in Stonegate and Tunbridge Wells.

During a career in media he worked for the BBC, Reuters, Newsweek and US public radio and worked both as a political reporter in Westminster and a foreign correspondent in South East Asia.

Huw Merriman, the Conservative candidate, said delivering a solution to Brexit was vital to end the ‘long period of uncertainty’.

He said: “Delivering a solution to Brexit is the reason this election has been called. I have consistently voted for a Brexit deal in order to deliver the democratic outcome of the referendum.

“A vote for me will deliver Brexit. Voting for the other parties will lead to us reopening the arguments in a Parliament unable to get anything done.

“I want to get Brexit delivered so we can move on to reform of our social care system for the elderly and vulnerable.

“With Rother having the highest average age in the UK, this is a priority for our area. Change will lead to better care and will allow East Sussex County Council and the NHS to provide the other essential services which we all need.

“I am passionate about education and have long championed fair funding for our schools and I will continue to do so.

“I will continue to fight for the investment our area needs in order to deliver quality homes for local families, employment opportunities, better transport links, safe communities and protect our precious natural environment.

“So, a vote for me will be a vote to solve Brexit, a vote to invest more in our schools, hospitals and local police and a mandate to carry on working hard across this beautiful area which I have been proud to represent and call home.”

Huw was elected Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle in 2015, and was re-elected two years later.

Prior to becoming an MP, Huw worked as a lawyer for 18 years and served as a Wealden district councillor for eight years.

Martin Saunders, the Lib Dem candidate, said local health and social care are high on his priorities.

He said: “The doctors and nurses here are wonderful but they are under pressure. People are having to wait longer for GP appointments and sometimes the hospitals cannot cope.

“One of my neighbours was recently rushed to hospital with chest pains but had to wait nearly two hours to see a triage nurse.

“That is why I support the Lib Dem policy of putting an extra penny on income tax to pay for the NHS and social care.

“Paying tax is never nice but a failing NHS is far worse. If we stop Brexit that will also give the NHS more money, because we will have a £50 billion Remain Bonus to spend on public services.

“We also need to tackle the need for more affordable housing.

“That must be done carefully, without destroying our greenbelts.

“Local people need to have a strong voice in shaping development.

“I and the Lib Dem councillors want to give communities more help in putting Neighbourhood Plans in place.

“I also fully support the Rother councillors who are now working to give Bexhill a town council.

“The Pevensey Levels, High Weald AONB and the coastline are all special places and we must work together to protect them. We should also all support Rother District Council’s ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We must also support the local economy. Improvements in the local railway lines are essential, so that businesses have better transport connections. Our high streets also need a boost.

“Lib Dem Rother councillors have already taken action to save cash machines by not charging business rate taxes on them.

“I am excited by the Liberal Democrats’ plan to scrap business rates and replace them with a Commercial Landowner Levy.

“That will shift the burden of tax from tenants to landlords and breathe life into shops and small businesses.”

Martin has lived within the constituency in Etchingham for the last 15 years with his wife, Jennifer.

He is a solicitor and a former partner in an international law firm. He studied law at St John’s College, Oxford.

The Brexit Party was originally fielding a candidate to stand for election in the constituency but withdrew after party leader Nigel Farage announced that the party would not be fielding candidates in seats won by the Conservatives in the General Election in 2017.

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