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GE2019: Kenilworth candidates on Brexit, crime, climate and more

For this month’s General Election, The Boar interviewed the candidates for Kenilworth and Southam to provide information for students at the University of Warwick who are voting in the constituency.

The Boar asked candidates to answer five questions, relating to the topics of Brexit, higher education in the UK, the climate emergency, local crime and healthcare. Candidates were also offered a 10-minute phone interview on questions related to the aforementioned topics.

The Kenilworth and Southam candidates are Richard Dickson (Liberal Democrat), Alison Firth (Green), James Phillip Crocker (Brexit Party), Antony Tucker (Labour) and Jeremy Wright (Conservative).

Richard Dickson (Liberal Democrat)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

JPC: As a Liberal Democrat I have been active since 2016 campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU so that the potential downsides of Brexit can be avoided, especially by those people who are employed in local automotive, education and farming sectors. This has involved working with people from different political parties and none. As a local Councillor I have also encouraged the local District Council to work with the LEP and Chamber of Commerce to help businesses to prepare for a possible Brexit. I was particularly concerned to find out when I asked at a recent local Council meeting how much of the £52,452 received by the local District Council from Central Government to help people and communities prepare for Brexit that none of this money has yet been spent.

Harry Kite (for The Boar): You note that there were around £52,000 worth of funding for mitigating the effects of Brexit on the local community, and that this funding had gone unspent up to this point. Do you have any specific plans about what you would use the funding for?

RD: I would use the funding to ensure that local businesses were properly advised and prepared for the possible impact of exits in terms of getting all supply arrangements sorted, making sure what the new terms of trade they would be operating under could have done some amazing exercise.

For private individuals, particularly those who are EU citizens, it would have been doing more. The council has actually organised two – the last one was many months ago, workshops or seminars for non-British EU citizens to enable them to be aware of the process for applying for settled status. It could have since it knows where they all live because of the electoral rolls. It could have mailed them all. It could be running further workshops in the local area, such as Kenilworth. The only one that I know of took place in Leamington. It could also have been making sure, possibly through a leaflet drop, that all residents were aware of things that they might need to do, by way of taking their pets abroad, or if they were going into the EU, what they might need by way of driving licence and that sort of thing.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

RD: The biggest problem facing higher education is how to continue to operate at a surplus when there is a perfect storm of threats facing the sector. These threats come from Brexit (the possible loss of EU students, the loss of EU national staff and the loss of EU research grants), the need to reduce tuition fees based on recommendations from the Augur review, the need to increase staff pension funding, the UPP Civic University Commission which made recommendation about how universities exercise their civic responsibilities and the need to preserve independence of thought and freedom of expression on campus. I will continue to oppose Brexit and also to work with Warwick University to find new ways to exercise its civic role (in my experience I think its been good at this e.g. through Warwick Volunteers). For students facing significant debt when they leave university, a Liberal Democrat government would reinstate maintenance grants to ensure that living costs (which I know from my own three daughters who have been at university) are at least as big as tuition fees.

HK: Do you expect the Liberal Democrats to directly replace the maintenance loans that are currently given by Student Finance England, or would you see them playing a different role?

RD: I don’t expect them to be directly replaced, and it will be targeted at lower income families. But what we don’t want to see happening is potential students from low income families not applying for higher education because of the fear of living costs being too high, and especially in some places, particularly universities in London, but also places like Warwick. I don’t know what your experience is, but probably the living costs that you think are at least as high as the tuition fees.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed that climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

RD: Yes undoubtedly the climate change emergency is the biggest issue facing us as citizens of th world. As a local councillor I proposed the local council should stories use of single use plastic items and I also supported successful Lib Dem proposals for a climate change emergency to be declared in the District and locally in Kenilworth. However, the declaration is mere words; we need to find ways to reduce car usage through better and increased bike, bus and rail transport. Also I’m aware that the level of international air travel by university staff is huge and that measures need to be explored to reduce this and, at least, use carbon offset services.

HK: On climate change, you mentioned reducing automotive and aviation emissions as a key method to combat climate change. How would you ensure that local people understood and accepted this movement?

RD: I’m very conscious that businesses like JLR are very important in the local economy, but JLR themselves have been heavily investing in non-fossil fuel engines for some time. I think some sort of tax on frequent flyers is going to be central and to some extent, this is a cultural shift. I’m not suggesting, even if I personally decided this year that I wasn’t going to go on an aeroplane on holiday and actually went on a train holiday, which was great. I do think there is a mindset that needs to change. I subscribe to this theory that the government needs to be doing what it can to encourage people to think, “what are the environmental impacts of the actions that I am taking?” Making sure regular flyers are paying the right sorts of taxes; not that we want to necessarily reduce business, but regular fliers. In order to protect the environment, there is a justification for increasing taxes.

Something can be done by leading by example. So making sure that the next vehicle is an electric vehicle. Public transport to work, which I freely admit, is not as high as it should be. Despite the fact that I now have a train that I could use to get to Coventry everyday, it is not as frequently as I would like to. So I definitely think this stuff can be done there.

Encouraging use of events like international car-free day, which I encouraged people to do for the last couple of years, which is 22 September every year, and encouraging people to think about car-sharing. On that day, whether it’s for social activities, or for work. It never ceases to amaze me when I drive up to A46 how many people are sat on their own in their car. It’s a cultural mindset. I look at places like Harvey, for example. I don’t know if you know the village of Harvey. It has a car-share scheme. If we can get more car-share schemes being set up on places, like I know Warwick University has a bike share scheme.

And if we can get one of those in Kenilworth, and Southam. There are moves afoot to look at getting bike schemes set up, in Warwick and Leamington. But why not in Kenilworth and Southam? Of course, the Kenilworth to Leamington bike route, which is long overdue, thankfully, at last now the County Council says it’s got the funding to start work, but we need to make sure that that sticks to the timetable, which will encourage people to bike from Leamington to Kenilworth.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

RD: In Coventry I’m aware that there have been a number of high profile knife crime incidents e.g. to the grandson of Neville and Christine Staples who I know through my work. As an MP I shall encourage the local police and Police & Crime Commissioner in their efforts to tackle this problem. Part of the solution involves more funding for police but, more importantly in my view, is to restore funding for local youth workers who can work amongst young people who have been involved in knife crime.

HK: Beyond investment in police and youth workers, are there any other areas you think are necessary to invest in order to tackle knife and gun crime in the local area?

RD: I think youth work is absolutely essential to engage with young people who have fallen prey to gang culture, because there’s been a lack of activities around for them to take part in. So I think that absolutely, I’d like to see that, and it’s not just police but also PCSOs, those as well. Making sure that they get the training that they need. That’s there. I mean, those are the two main areas to reduce knife crime. I think a simple approach is just increasing sentencing, it’s not necessarily going to have the impact. I think you need to start the smarter and more targeted approach, and it will take time as well, to get that done. So those are the two main areas that I would focus on, making sure we got police and PCSOs and youth workers out there with funding to engage in activities, so that young people don’t fall prey to this kind of gang culture.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

RD: As an MP it’s not my job to tackle directly A&E waiting times. That’s ajob best done by NHS management and staff. However it is my job to ensure that appropriate funding is available for waiting times standards to be met and that funding is also provided for high quality ambulance services to be operated. That’s why, amongst many things, a Liberal Democrat government would restore nurseries and grant for nursing students to increase the number of nurses in training.

Mr Dickson did not have enough time to respond to the final question of the phone interview due to the 10-minute limit.

Alison Firth (Green)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

AS: WE are totally opposed to Brexit but are the champions of a peoples vote. We would secure the best deal for the environment, citizen movement and trade then present that deal as well as the option to remain in the EU and what that looks like, to the public so that they can make an informed decision in a second referendum.

As the Green Party lead our communities toward a carbon-free, sustainable future millions of new, good, green, well paid, secure jobs would be created as the renewable energy systems and technologies expand and the UK becomes the power house of manufacturing renewable energy infrastructure. There would be a significant and unprecedented investment in training of £2 billion a year for these new jobs and local authorities would be given the power to direct these training programmes as relevant to their communities. We would also boost the repair and recondition sector with new apprenticeship schemes. We want our economy to move rapidly from a linear, which takes, makes and wastes to a circular one that designs out waste and pollution keeping products and materials in use.

Emily Kinder (for The Boar): You talked of good, green, well-paid, secure jobs, post-Brexit. But how will you integrate a green agenda into jobs already in place post-Brexit, and how will this affect the local area?

AS: Well, some jobs are going to be changing because we really urgently need to be moving from a carbon-based industry to a renewable sector. Jobs will be generated as we start to harness the natural energy that we’ve got here in Britain. There are a lot of wind energies and river energies that need to be harnessed. This is what the future is all about; the future isn’t going to be operating around carbon, it’s going to be operating around renewables. There will be a massive upheaval into focussing all of our energy and innovation into a non-carbon fuelled future. Of course, the way the whole Green Party manifesto works is devolving. Almost all of the Green Party policies say, “lets devolve power back down to local economy, to local authorities”, because they know what their area offers in terms of renewable energy, what their industry is, what they’re good at. They will be in charge of all the money that will go back into training and how that money will be better spent in that particular area. It’s not going to be a ‘one size fits all’.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

AS: The education system should be a place where individuals can realise their personal potential and creativity and nurture a lifelong passion for learning and yet many higher education establishments can feel like a production line turning education in to a commodity and taking the joy out of learning by putting both students and teachers under pressure with endless testing and measuring.

Education should be for educations sake; liberating and invigorating so we would free schools from centrally imposed testing regimes, OFSTED inspections and a rigid national curriculum and trust teachers to plan their lessons and assess progress according to the abilities and needs of their class, moving away from a “one size fits all” approach. We want to unlock education by increasing funding to at least £4 billion per year, reduce class sizes to maximum 20 pupils, and formal education to begin at 6 years old to allow play based learning until them which has worked very well in Sweden.

Communities would also be at the heart of education and local authorities would be empowered with the accountability for education in the area, OFSTED would be replaced with a collaborative system of assessing and supporting schools locally. An English Climate Emergency Act would support schools to teach students about the urgency of the climate and environmental crisis.

To make access easier to high education we would fund every higher education student in full and scrap undergraduate tuition fees. We would also write off any existing debt for students who studied under the £9k tuition fee regime. Funding for adult education would also increase and a new range of programmes for learners to access. We want to make higher education for the joy of being educated rather than to tick boxes or to meet stringent targets and we feel that the above measures and funding as well as devolving education responsibilities to local communities will make education more appealing to our young adults.

EK: You mentioned the Green Party policy of writing off tuition fees. How do you propose that that is funded?

AS: Basically we’re going to have a massive tax reform. At the moment, the taxing system is very complicated and it allows for people to hide their money, people who’ve got a lot of capital. We’re not getting the tax on that capital because the taxing system so complex. There are loopholes that allow people with a lot of capital to slip through and hide their money away from us, you probably seen all these people from Amazon hiding money and various other people hiding their money. So we would simplify taxing. So we would merge employees National Insurance, capital gains, inheritance taxes, dividend income tax into one tax. So that’s going to raise billions of pounds into the public sector by simplifying it. Also we are going to be applying a carbon tax. So that’s going to seriously discourage people and huge businesses from using machinery and processes that use a lot of carbon. So we’ll have new money coming in from those resources to help pay for all these things.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

AS: There are now CEs declared in Warwickshire at County, District and some Town Levels, like Kenilworth. These actions are all part of the international effort to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere that are heating-up the world.

For Warwick District, plans for “Making Warwick District a great place to live, work and visit – carbon neutral by 2030” includes proposals for divesting from fossil fuels, raising energy efficiencies in social housing, changing the vehicle fleet to electric, changes to waste disposal, new building regulations etc.

For Kenilworth it means that a cross-political party group is working to come up with ways to encourage and enable residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints. For most of us, our carbon footprint is dominated by three areas: the energy we use in the home, how we travel, and what we eat. The group is currently look at options for how we can measure our own carbon footprints, how we can increase our use of renewable energy sources, how we can leave the car at home more often, how we can choose to buy food and meals with fewer food miles, and so on.

EK: You mentioned that there is a group looking at how people can measure their own carbon footprint. To what extent do you think that combating the climate crisis is an individual responsibility and how will you ensure in the constituency that there is a balance between this individual responsibility and corporate responsibility?

AS: There are three ways that an individual can alter their carbon footprint and it’s all about mitigation. So you know, if you drive a lot of miles, perhaps you can fly less. You know don’t eat steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It should be a luxury product. It’s not just about the possibility of cruelty to animals. The greatest demands we generate for meat, the more farmers are put at the pressure to produce it. And that means chopping down forests and other places in the world to make flat ground, which also causes a deterioration of soil quality, because you haven’t got the right root structure to hold the soil together. And things like that have a knock on effect. So when you buy meat, try and buy it locally sourced and find out where it’s come from so you know how it’s been farmed and that it is being farmed in a sustainable way. Make eating meat and dairy more of a treat. You don’t have to become vegan 100% because actually if we all became vegan all of a sudden, that would be bad for the soil because then we’d be growing field crops like soya. It’s how we buy as well. What we buy and where we buy it from; it’s consumer choices. Are we buying things that support our local economy. Are we stopping things from being flown in from miles around. Also how much do we fly. How often could we perhaps take a train or not go abroad. So these are the ways you could do things individually. Don’t buy plastic bags; little changes. And if we all did that there would be a push in the right direction. It’s about changing the way you think about the world from a circular way of thinking, which is what we want to do the economy changing from a linear economy, to make it into a circular economy where elements are kept in production and recycled and nothing sent away.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

AS: In the Greens we believe liberty must be protected. How best to achieve this is a combination of:

  1. Robust policing policies and the rule of law and also
  2. Understanding the causes of crime and how we can reduce incidence by putting social policies in place which reduce the likelihood of crime taking place.

These include:

  1. Promoting community-based initiatives eg youth mentors/community workers placed in areas where disaffected youngsters may gather (e.g. parks), and disseminating information about crime prevention such as burglary.
  2. Reparation – Set sentences which include making amends for wrongdoing.
  3. Restorative justice – encourage the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
  4. Assist victims as much as possible.
  5. Knife crime: educational projects

However, it cannot be denied that meaningful and fairly paid work and social structures are the main factors which prevent wrongdoing in the first place, and a whole system of social support and fair wages, access to housing and youth opportunities. Hence the Green’s insistence on broad social justice policies to include the above.

Students are understandably worried about knife crime and burglary because of their perceived ‘wealth’ and visibility late at night on the streets of Leamington /Coventry. Personally, I would encourage a far more visible police presence at these times outside bars and a full system of education for students re their specific vulnerability.

EK: Regarding knife crime and hate crime in the local area, you mentioned that you will introduce a system of education for students about their safety. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that?

AS: Again, it’s about devolving the provision for education and funding to the community. So in some areas there may not be a knife crime problem at all but in other areas, maybe serious knife crime situation. Now the training and funding will be devolved to those communities and the communities who have got the biggest problem will be able to understand their problem within their community. This is what the whole green manifesto is about. With knife crime in a particular area, it may be down to a particular gang and may take particular intervention and knowledge of these characters and how they operate, what’s happening with the youth culture in that area and the understanding of youth workers and the police in the area and the provision of money and then trying to roll out training, which can be specific and operate well with their community.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

AS: At the heart of our manifesto is an increase in funding of £6 billion per year, each year until 2020. We would also give local communities more control as to how that money should be effectively spent in their region. We would reinstate the Health Secretary’s duty to ensure there are enough health care staff to meets the needs of the population. Funding would also be focussed on local community health centres to pioneer preventative healthcare. Again giving responsibility for apportionment of funding and resources to local authorities may help them deal with demand peaks and wait times at local A&E centres more effectively.

EK: How much of the Green Party’s funding into the NHS which you mentioned is going towards mental health?

AS: That’s a really important element, especially for me as last year I completed a master’s degree in counselling, so I’m fully qualified counsellor as well. I think mental health is absolutely crucial and it’s linked intrinsically to our physical health. What the Green Party would do is put mental health issues and combating them on an equal footing, a seriously equal footing, with that of physical health. We want to, we really want to focus a lot of that funding to enable major improvements for mental health care, we really do want to put it on an equal footing with physical healthcare. Quite often when you go to the doctors and they say, ‘Oh, yes, you can have a counselling appointment, but it’ll be in three months’. That’s far too far away for people who just desperately needing to talk someone. The longer that’s left, the more it can deteriorate your physical health, you know, so we want to get people with problems with their mental health to mental health therapies in 28 days. So that’s the target said there be significant funding of mental health.

Antony Tucker (Labour)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

AT: Ten years of austerity have created an economy that does not work for the many – and the Tories’ No Deal Brexit plans will only worsen matters. Labour will guarentee a Real Living Wage of at least £10 an hour from the age of 16, to end the scandal of in-work poverty – and under no cirumstances will we allow a No Deal Brexit. We’ll have a public vote to decide Brexit democratically: a vote in which I’ll support remaining in the EU.

George Campkin (for The Boar): You say that you want a public vote on Brexit to solve the current situation and that you would back remain in such a vote. How will this solve the divide in opinion in Kenilworth and Southam?

AT: Because we are the only party that would trust the people. The Tories want to crash out with no-deal and the Lib Dems want to revoke Brexit altogether. Now, that was not what was promised in 2016. I’ve been very honest to people about that on the doorstep and on the street when we’ve been talking about this. I’ve said that at the end of the day, in a second referendum, if we disagree then we disagree, but we’ve got to get there first. What we have to do is have a deal that people understand, where people know what’s going to happen, and compare it to Remain, and of course, we understand those conditions. This is about clarity, fairness and democracy. We need to trust the people to choose between a sensible Leave deal that protects the environment, that protects workers’ rights and ensures that we retain close links with Europe, and at the same time, compare that to conditions of remaining. I trust the people to make that choice and I’m not afraid to say that.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

AT: Higher education is mired in a crisis of debt, with the poorest students facing a burden of £57,000. Labour will abolish tuition fees, end the casualisation of staff and promote contextual admissions to ensure that everyone has a fair chance of achieving the education they deserve.

GC: You say that you want to abolish tuition fees. Will this pledge include writing off the debt already incurred by students currently at university and those who have recently graduated after paying the £9,250 tuition fee?

AT: I mean, that’s ultimately what a lot of people are talking about. For the moment, we know that we can afford to eliminate charging tuition fees, so that’s what we’re promising. We’re not going to commit to spending money we can’t source. But, I think in the long run, the actable thing would be to write off people’s debts, or write down people’s debts, or reduce the rate at which they’re being paid back. I think debt relief is certainly something that we’re going to have to come to. The first step though is empty tuition fees for the next students.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

AT: I believe that the climate emergency is the greatest threat we face, not just as a country but as a species. Labour’s Green New Deal will ensure a transition to a carbon-neutral economy by 2030, creating hundreds of thousands of well-paid, high-skill jobs and decarbonising transportation. As an MP, I’ll make sure that Kenilworth and Southam recieves its fair share of this vital investment.

GC: Would you look to implement some of the environmental efforts launched in London, such as bike hire schemes, electrifying the bus fleet, and the planting of thousands of trees in streets, in Kenilworth and Southam?

AT: I mean, those are all my positive ways of helping the environment. With our NHS forest that we’re going to be planting, we’re going to be making the best use of state-owned land to plant more trees to act as carbon sinks. Of course, that’s a long-term process. You asked about public transport and electrification. I’m very proud that our policy includes a community electric vehicle-hire scheme, and I would look to bring one home to Kenilworth and to Southam as well to ensure that everybody has access to an up-to-date electric vehicle. Even though the price of buying one outright maybe high, there’s no reason why we can’t use the power of the state to ensure everybody can access this. This will also include, of course, speeding up infrastructure installation, so that charge points become commonplace across the constituency. The climate emergency has to be dealt with and it has to be dealt with now. The Tories want to kick the can down the road. By the time they wake up, it will be frankly too late. The only way to protect the environment is to vote Labour.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

AT: Crime has soared as a result of the Tories’ and Lib Dems’ cuts. Labour will put back the 20,000 police officers lost to austerity, invest in statutory youth services to prevent knife crime and ensure that misogyny is treated as the hate crime it is.

GC: Although total crime in Warwickshire went down in 2018, violent crime and robbery rose by 7% and 23%, respectively. How will you deal with these types of crime in this area?

AT: I’ll say two things about that. Firstly, on the idea that crime’s going down in the area, I think what you mean is reported crime. A lot of people have got so disgusted by the way our police force has been attacked that I think a lot of people have stopped reporting burglaries, anti-social behaviour and other low-level crime that they know the police no longer have the resources to deal with. When it comes down to it, it’s about resources. We are going to put 20,000 more police on the streets. That’s going to include taskforces to deal with rural crime and ensure that people feel safe once again. At the end of the day, nobody should feel unsafe in their own homes. This insecurity the Tories have created has alienated communities and it’s left people feeling frightened. Labour will replace that with security in your own home.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

AT: The NHS is our finest creation; but nine years of Conservative and Lib Dem cuts have brought it to the edge of collapse. We’ll reduce waiting times by filling the 100,000 vacancies in our health service, including an expanded GP training scheme that will create 27 million more appointments a year. What’s more, we’ll stop and reverse NHS privatisation – and I will never allow Donald Trump to get his hands on our health service.

GC: The GP’s role as a gatekeeper to further treatment has been suggested as a cause of late diagnosis in the NHS. What would you do to remedy this situation?

AT: I think there’s a two-pronged call for this. Yes, cancer and stroke survival rates have decreased significantly. That means speeding up referrals. Don’t forget, back in 2010 we had a two-week guaranteed referral for cancer cases which, of course, the Tories have thrown out to save money. So, we need to speed up the speed of referrals, and also, simply having more GPs is going to help speed up referrals. We’re going to ensure that there’s 5,000 more GPs ensuring tens of millions more appointments a year. That’s going to ensure that you can see a GP faster and that they can refer you faster as well.

Jeremy Wright (Conservative)

The Boar: How will you work to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the local economy and jobs in the industrial sector in the constituency?

JW: We should accept the result of the 2016 EU referendum which almost all politicians promised they would enact, but we should also leave with a Withdrawal Agreement which will make our exit smoother and provide the basis on which businesses in our area and beyond can continue to trade easily with Europe. I have voted for just such a deal in Parliament and will do so again if re-elected. What businesses in this constituency are very keen to avoid is further uncertainty over Brexit, which is why we should conclude the Withdrawal Agreement and move on.

The Boar: What do you think is the biggest problem facing higher education right now and how will you help tackle it for students living within the constituency?

JW: The funding of higher education remains a huge challenge – getting the balance right between the contributions of student and taxpayer to the cost of world-class courses like those available at Warwick. It’s good that the numbers of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds is at a record level, but I know tuition fees remain a worry for most students. That is why Conservatives in government have frozen fees this year, and why the earnings threshold for student loan repayment has gone up this year and will go up again next year. We have also now received the recommendations of an independent review, including that tuition fees should drop to £7500, which the next government must consider.

The Boar: A recent poll by ClientEarth indicated that almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind. How will you ensure that the climate crisis is addressed in the constituency?

JW:  Climate change must be addressed at a global level, but the UK cannot influence others if it is not prepared to act itself. We have already set an example by being the first major economy to commit to zero carbon by 2050, a target that has to be realistic to be credible. We have increased the percentage of our energy from renewable sources from 6% to 37% since 2010 and taken 15.6 billion plastic bags out of circulation. Next we will do more on banning various single use plastic products and go further on decarbonising transport and other sectors, locally and nationally.

The Boar: There has been a significant rise in both knife crime and hate crime in the local area. How will you tackle this, and how will you work with the police to do so?

JW: I believe combatting knife crime requires a combination of 3 things. We need more police officers and a Conservative government will fund 20,000 more, which we can afford because we have made progress in bringing the deficit in public finances under control. We also need to enhance police powers and sentencing, both of which we will reform. Thirdly, education and mentoring plays a part. Those who carry a knife for safety are actually more likely to be a victim of knife violence themselves. On hate crime, I worked as Attorney General to ensure the police and the Crown Prosecution Service paid closer attention to this type of offending, drawing courts’ attention to it as an aggravating feature of other crimes so sentences could be increased as a result. We have more to do to ensure all hate crime, including for example disability hate crime, is taken more seriously.

The Boar: In an area densely populated by students, how will you tackle the increasing waiting times at A&E and healthcare centres in the constituency, especially during peak times such as flu season?

JW: The NHS needs additional investment and a Conservative government would spend an additional £34 billion to address the pressures it faces, but those pressures are largely about rising demand for existing services and about more treatments becoming available. One of the greatest pressures is our collective failure over decades to properly provide for increased demand for social care, which affects the NHS directly. Good social care policy requires both more money and, because of the timescales it needs to operate over, a cross-party approach it has been hard to find recently. The next Parliament needs to do better. Mental health also needs to be a priority, including for students living on and off campus.

Mr Wright did not respond in time for a phone interview.

Written answers from the candidates are presented as they were given to The Boar. Interviews with candidates for Coventry North East and North West, Coventry South as well as Warwick and Leamington are linked accordingly. You can view all of The Boar‘s interviews with local candidates here.

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