Image: Ana Clara Paniago / The Boar

Interview: Nick Solman, Liberal Democrat candidate for Warwick and Leamington

The Boar interviewed Nick Solman, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Warwick and Leamington in the upcoming General Election.

The Boar: The constituency of Warwick and Leamington Spa chose to remain in the EU by a majority of 58%, despite the country’s overall decision. How would you ensure that the residents’ wishes are maintained during Brexit negotiations, and how would you prevent ideological divisions from forming within the local community?

Nick Solman: “Following the highly divisive Brexit vote creating unity within our community has to be the primary goal of any viable Brexit policy. As a result, I would push for a soft Brexit to be negotiated with the EU as this is the type of Brexit that would be acceptable to the greatest number of people. Following completion of negotiations I would then push for the final terms to be voted on in a second referendum. Once we know the terms of any Brexit deal it is vital that the country has a discussion concerning both the pros and cons of the deal. One thing that we have learnt from Brexit is that a large section of our society is being left behind, therefore, whatever the outcome a long, hard look needs to be taken at our country’s social policy to ensure that it is helping those at the bottom to catch up.”

Current statistics suggest that 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems during their lifetime, with students reporting to be particularly vulnerable. Given the financial and social crises facing the NHS, how would you ensure adequate provisions were made to support this proportion of the population and, if so, what would they be?

“Lib Dems have long called for equality between mental and physical health and this is something that I would continue to do. For this to be achieved we need improved funding for the NHS and social care. We are proposing to invest a further £4bn per year into the NHS and an extra £2bn per year into Social Care to alleviate some of the current pressure on the NHS and community social care.”

The local bus services have largely failed to meet the demands placed upon it by both students and local residents, continuing to raise prices above the rate of inflation whilst failing to increase the volume or reliability of services to meet demands. What would you do to improve the state of public transport within the constituency, both for students and local residents?

“Whilst a student in Edinburgh I benefited from its excellent bus service and therefore know the benefit a prompt and direct bus service can bring. As with most things, improving the local bus service will not require the wheel to be re-invented. I would therefore look to talk with the local councils, MPs and the bus operators to find examples of similar sized conurbations that have outstanding bus services and look to tailor their timetable and route model to suit Coventry, Warwick and Leamington.”

Despite a clear and distinct issue with homelessness within towns such as Leamington Spa, significant cuts have been made to homelessness shelters and support services in the area. Is this justifiable? And if not, what can be done to alleviate the situation?

“Now that the recession is over a good first step would be to increase funding to local councils to allow them to return some of the services that have had to be reduced under the austerity agenda. I would also look to see what capital grants may be available for the local area to purchase accommodation that can be used for the temporary housing of the homeless whilst permanent accommodation is being found for them. Enforced homelessness is not acceptable and ending it has to be a key priority for all of those involved in government as a lack of a home results in so many more problems for both the individual and also local government.”

A large proportion of students reside within Leamington Spa and the surrounding area, and there’s been a upsurge in student housing and rental properties in recent years to accommodate. This has caused some concern with the local residents, who view it as something of a takeover and worry it could affect their own rent costs. How would you intend to balance the demands of students with those of the local residents?

“Having students in Leamington is great for the vibrancy of the town and the local economy but the lack of suitable accommodation in the town is a real problem for all concerned. Therefore a conversation needs to be had with the University concerning the number of students studying on their courses and the size of the local housing stock. Ideally there would be oppurtunites for the University to increase its accommodation both on campus and also in Leamington. Given the extent of the expansion of Leamington and Warwick it shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange for good quality student accommodation to be built on one of the new developments and put on one of the bus routes. I feel that this would be the ideal solution as student accommodation is less land-intensive than houses and therefore more environmentally friendly.”

Listen to his interview with RaW here.

Read our other interviews with candidates for Warwick and Leamington:

In case you missed it: here’s our guide to the General Election!


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