Image: Ana Clara Paniago / The Boar

Interview: Greg Judge, Liberal Democrat candidate for Coventry South

The Boar interviewed Greg Judge, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Coventry South in the upcoming General Election.

The Boar: Times Higher Education have recently announced that the University of Warwick is the 17th most international university in the world. How would you take these students into account when looking at Brexit negotiations, especially considering the possible decrease in international students in the coming years?

Greg Judge: “Universities UK has found that international students coming to the UK to study now generate more than £25 billion for the economy and provide a significant boost to regional jobs and local businesses.

Theresa May’s obsession for a Hard Brexit could cost the UK £2 billion a year, as tens of thousands of EU students could seek out other global institutions. The Conservatives have continued to refuse to exclude international students from the net migration target.

The Liberal Democrats are the party of internationalism and we recognise not only the economic benefit of international study to the UK, but also the soft power it delivers in strengthening our relations with so many nations. We would seek to protect the world’s access to the UK’s world-class higher education institutions.

Before any deal on Brexit is ratified, it is only the Liberal Democrats who will offer British voters the chance to reverse Brexit in a second referendum. One’s choice to step off a cliff-edge must be a fully informed one.”

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?

“Whilst we of course welcome the new cross-party support for mental health services, it is the Liberal Democrats who have long sought to stamp out the stigma surrounding mental health. For decades, mental health has been the last in the queue when it comes to funding and attention.

New figures by ITV News show that some children and young people are left waiting 9 months before they can access treatment through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. In the Coalition Government, Liberal Democrat Ministers announced new waiting time standards, bringing treatment for mental health problems in line with physical health.

It is sad to see that this Conservative Government is clearly not enforcing these standards, for if this was the case for physical acute health services, there would be a national outcry.

The pressures of studying and teaching is impacting student and academics alike. The pursuit of top grades, body image, weaker support networks away from home and shared accommodation create new situations for young people. I used my university’s counselling services when exam pressure got too much, and I would work to maintain and develop better services in the future.”

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?

“In line with our previous campaigns, the Liberal Democrats would give discounted Young Person’s Bus Passes for 16 to 25 year olds to help them study and secure employment.

Air quality and public health have become big issues in the past year, and not just within London. Only through improved public transport, and a move away from using private cars regularly can we both improve the air we breathe and the environment we live in.

I would personally work for franchises and partnerships improving bus services alongside the introduction of new ultra-low emission vehicles, so that all bus fleets reach the highest possible environmental standards. Reform of the Bus Service Operators Grant so that it is devolved to local authorities with more oversight and flexibility with the West Midlands’ Mayoral budget is also vital to developing public transport.”

Last August, it was revealed that Coventry would resettle the largest number of Syrian refugees in the country. What is your stance on the current refugee crisis, given the amount of work that the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre does and the support from the university?

“The Syrian ‘civil war’ has now been raging on for over 7 years, a fact alone which should be shameful to all Governments and nations who could have brought about peace. Coventry, a city having known war, are internationally recognised as a city of peace and reconciliation.

This recognition is meaningless unless we put our words into action, I’m very proud to see our city become one of Sanctuary, setting an example for cities across the UK and the world. Theresa May’s scrapping of the child refugee scheme, devised by Lord Dubs, himself a child of Nicholas Winton’s Kindertransport, is quite frankly, shocking beyond words.

The Conservatives continue to seek the support of UKIP supporters and those who would have us to turn our backs on the most desperate and needy of this war. I thank the University of Warwick and others, for working in the spirit of our British values and remembering that we all ultimately study to serve our fellow man.”

Coventry has been named the most dangerous city in the UK and the 7th most dangerous city in Europe. What would you put in place to combat this and to make sure students feel safe?

“Crime statistics always need to be set in context, as well as the fact that the perception of risk is just as critical as the possibility of assault and injury. Police forces have seen their budgets cut by £2.2 billion in real terms in recent years, according to the National Audit Office, and Theresa May has told police they will have to make more spending cuts in the years ahead.

Recorded crime has been on the increase since cuts in police budgets have taken hold, with fewer police on our streets and more victims being let down. Recent figures have shown there was a sharp rise in serious and violent crime in 2016, including a 14% increase in knife crime.

Theresa May’s hard Brexit agenda is set to blow a £100bn hole in public finances, worsening the pressures on our public services such as the police. Their funding needs to be restored, as well as implementation of big data which can support police in targeting their resources.

Visible policing is of course important but we should also recognise that policing practises are constantly improving, and having a ‘bobby on the beat’ is not always the best solution for every situation.”

Read our other interviews with candidates in Coventry South:

Aimee Challenor, Green Party 

Jim Cunningham, Labour Party

Michelle Lowe, Conservative Party

We have also contacted the other parties in Coventry South.


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