With each passing second the general election looms ever closer, lumbering towards us like a big dozy bear. Soon it will be over and the future of the country will decided by votes from people like you.
Why did you get involved in politics?
By accident! I was campaigning about a road closure in Newport that badly affected local businesses and residents. I then stood for election as an Independent for Newport Parish Council in 2008, then the following year (I was headhunted by the Conservatives) for the IW Council. I walked away from party politics two years ago as I realised that party politics just doesn’t serve the interests of local people. How can you serve the public effectively and the interests of a party too?
I also saw the divide between rich and poor grow, when the government was telling us that they were doing the opposite. I have been a volunteer at Food Bank since 2012 and I thought it was a temporary measure whilst we got out of the credit crunch, however, the need has grown year on year and I see working people having to use the Food Bank, it’s a failure of our society and I will do my part to address the inequality we face.
What is your stance on the legalisation of cannabis and why?
Whilst cannabis has many health benefits, pain relief for example, the strains that have been engineered can cause long term mental health problems and this is my concern with legalising it.
The average debt of a recent university graduate is £44,000 – the highest in the English speaking world. What is your stance on tuition fees?
I marched against the introduction of student loans in the 80s, as I was at South Bank in London doing a degree and I would not have been able to go if it had not been for the grant. Taking on that huge amount of debt at such a young age must be a big burden and is something anyone would think very carefully about.
It seems to me that education has become a business and this is the wrong emphasis. We can see at Sandown Academy that this model has been disastrous. I think we need to shift the focus on further education, away from just going to university and look at vocational apprenticeships, so you can earn and learn. I would like to see improved careers advice in schools so young people understand their options much earlier.
Do you support Isle of Wight Pride and what are your thoughts on Andrew Turner’s decision to resign?
I signed up as a volunteer with Island Pride at their launch at the Quay Arts. I also had a special Pride window display in my shop Dragonfly to raise awareness and I came up with the event to show the film Pride and then have an 80’s disco afterwards. I’m really looking forward to it. Andrew’s decision was the right one in my opinion.
Do you support votes at 16? Why or why not?
Yes I do. It’s not fair that this age group can pay taxes and contribute to the country but not vote. I also believe that by voting young it will encourage voting to be a habit, take part in the process.
Many young people feel they have to leave to succeed. Do you agree, and if not, can more jobs be created on the Isle of Wight?
I left the Island at 18 and returned a few years later, it was good to get away and experience other places. The quality of life here is better in so many ways but we have to have a healthier economy and give people choices.
According to Fullfact.org, the NHS funding gap will be £30 billion by 2020. What are your thoughts on the current state of the NHS?
I believe the NHS should be run according to the founding principles and not privatised. The Government should stop tampering with it. Wellbeing is at the core of my manifesto. I have a video about the NHS here St Mary’s Hospital-NHS
Since 2010, we’ve seen the longest fall in wages since records began, making it it joint worst with Greece in the developed world. What would you do to ensure a fair wage for young people in work?
In my manifesto, I have laid out my plans to increase the amount of well paid skilled jobs available, which is I think the best way forward. It’s important to have opportunities for these types of jobs rather than the current reliance on retail and hospitality. However, my own son (he’s in year 10) works at a beach side business to get the essential skills, customer service, health and hygiene etc which you have to learn in the workplace. he gets paid a fair wage but gets so much more out of it in experience.
I’m already supporting Young Enterprise which is brilliant programme to get young people into the world of self employment. I also want to find a mechanism that can make work experience easier to do, it can be quite difficult for a small employer to offer this due to the red tape. Looking forward, I want to get affordable rental properties built as housing is often the biggest monthly cost for a lot of people.
Living on an island, transport is a priority for residents of every age. What are your views on transport around the Island, and across the Solent?
I fully support having a feasibility study, which the government have said they will fund. We need to have to facts, the evidence presented so we can make an informed judgement about a link or no-link.
I am a campaigner for sustainable transport and am working on a cycle way going from the centre of Newport out to Gunville and the it will extend eventually to the West Wight. Bus services are crucial and I have some ideas about how to improve the rural bus services. Car clubs are also a growing option for those who don’t want the expense or carbon footprint of owning a car. I will work with the ferry companies to have a reliable, affordable service at times when we need it.
What would you do to help young people get on the housing ladder?
There are some great systems now available, the Dutch have some great innovative examples, prefabricated, panelised housing can be built cheaply and quickly to provide affordable rental properties. If housing is affordable then there is income available for using for other things in life, such as deposit for a house. I have a shared ownership property with a housing association and that is great option for those on lower incomes. Boosting the economy is of primary importance so we can all have a decent income.