WITH less than two weeks until the general election on Thursday 12th December, voters will soon have to choose who gets their support.

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To help readers decide, the A&T has invited all 13 candidates from the three local constituencies to say in less than 400 words why residents should give them their vote.

Here, in alphabetical order by their surnames, the four politicians who want to be MP for Christchurch put their case for why you should send them to parliament.

Sir Chris Chope, Conservative

Christchurch candidates
Sir Chris Chope

IF YOU want to ‘get Brexit done’ as I do, please remember that I am the only candidate for Christchurch committed to Brexit. I shall help ensure that we leave on 31st January 2020. The UK will then be free to negotiate future trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world while taking back control of our laws, our borders and our money.

My service on parliament’s Brexit committee shows that the EU only responds positively to a strong negotiator. Boris Johnson is the leader able to force the EU to agree reasonable terms.

Getting Brexit done will provide a major boost to our economy and thereby facilitate the means to deliver the Conservative Party’s radical domestic agenda. Top of that agenda is investment in our health service. I take pride in the high quality of care provided locally and am pleased at the success of my campaign to retain maternity services at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and to keep that hospital as a major 24/7 accident and emergency centre.

As a long term campaigner for our local schools to have a fairer share of national funding, I welcome the announcement of a 5.14% average increase in the annual per pupil allocation which is far higher than the national average.

My top priority on housing is to ensure that the younger generation can afford to become home owners locally. It is scandalous that there are over 11,000 houses in the conurbation for which planning permission has already been granted but which are yet to be built. Implementing these permissions would help both renters and purchasers while avoiding the need for further erosion of our precious green belt.

As a former environment minister, I believe strongly in the need to clean up our environment locally, nationally and globally. While Christchurch already benefits from past investment in better flood and sea defences, more still needs to be done to adapt to meet the consequences of climate change.

I support increasing the number of local, well paid job opportunities by realising the potential of the airport industrial park as a centre for investment in aviation skills and manufacturing.

I welcome the guarantee that a Conservative government will not increase VAT, income tax or National Insurance. I also support a freeze on fuel duty and want to see the burden of inheritance tax reduced.

Mike Cox, Liberal Democrat

Mike Cox

OUR country is at a crossroads. The referendum result has torn this country apart. We moved from being Great Britain to Little Britain.

Any form of Brexit would:

  • cause a loss of investment, jobs and livelihoods
  • risk the breakup of our UK, as first Scotland and then NI seek to leave
  • destroy hard won environmental, social and employment rights
  • enrich the few and impoverish the many.

The reality of Johnson’s “get Brexit done” folly will be a decade of treaty negotiations.

Bloomberg has reported that stopping Brexit would bring an immediate £85bn boost to the UK economy. This represents real money to rebuild our NHS, our schools and our public services.

Brexit will kill the goose that laid the golden eggs of peace and prosperity. By doing Brexit, any promises to end austerity, protect the NHS, fund education etc are not worth the paper they are written on.

There is another path. We can stop Brexit. A Lib Dem government will revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU. If we don’t get a majority then we will work with whoever to put it back to the people in a People’s Vote.

In Christchurch, however, a more important issue even than Brexit and that is climate change. We must work with our European friends to tackle the climate emergency. This is a battle for the survival of our beautiful blue planet, and we must win it.

By tackling the climate emergency, we can become leaders in green technology – a huge opportunity for our economy and vital for the survival of Christchurch town. We are rightly proud of our long history but unless we and the world act now we will be lost to the seas in 30 years.

We have announced £100bn to tackle the climate emergency. We are committed to net zero emissions by 2045 and an 80% reduction by 2030. This includes insulating new homes and planting 60-million trees.

In Christchurch and East Dorset our choice is clear, stark and simple.

We can stick with an MP who prefers to quash progressive reforms eg a ban on upskirting, FGM and preventing the pardoning of the WW2 hero Alan Turing amongst others.

Or we can choose a brighter future with myself, Mike Cox, a local Liberal Democrat, successful chartered accountant, a BCP and town councillor and treasurer/trustee to many local charities.

Andrew Dunne, Labour

Christchurch candidates
Andrew Dunne

I HAVE a degree in business and in 2001 I joined the police service where I spent 14 years, many of those as a detective working on some of the most serious crimes across our area.

I left the police in 2015 due to the vicious cuts made by the Conservative/Lib Dem government which destroyed policing as we know it and has led to a steep rise in crime.

I started up my own small business making furniture from reclaimed wood as the environment is of the upmost importance to me, and is my number one priority at this election.

In 2019 I volunteered at my local youth club in Somerford, and now work there as a youth worker. The young people I meet are amazing, as are the volunteers who give up so much of their time.

But I also see what Tory austerity has done to our communities, and we have young people with no food in the cupboards at home and who struggle with mental health issues but with no one to talk to and help support them.

This cannot be the way. We deserve real change.

As someone who is steeped in the community I will stand up for what is right, and listen to people’s needs and ensure we have a government run in everyone’s interests. We have massive inequality in our constituency. It does not have to be this way.

My top priority is the environment and our Labour manifesto sets about creating a real answer to these issues. We will invest in renewable technologies, insulate homes, and protect against the worst effects of climate change, whilst saving you money and creating jobs.

People are also concerned with the NHS and GP waiting times. I will ensure that the £26bn Labour have pledged to reverse privatisation and recruit and train more staff is spent properly and in your interests.

Housing is a major issue with average house prices 12 times the average wage! As your Labour MP I will ensure genuinely affordable new homes, rent caps to tackle those rising costs, and deal with the issue of second home ownership that is removing homes from local people and damaging our local economy.

As your Labour MP I will listen to you, and represent your views openly and transparently, with the honesty and integrity I have been brought up with and pursued my whole life.

Chris Rigby, Green

Chris Rigby

ELECTED to BCP Council in May 2019, I have already fulfilled one of my election pledges when BCP Council announced their climate and ecological emergency, and I’ve been maintaining the pressure ever since to ensure there is a realistic, sustainable and affordable plan to reach net zero carbon by 2030.

My passion is for the environment and protecting this planet for future generations. If elected to parliament I pledge to continue with this and push as hard as possible to not only lead us towards zero carbon, but to improve the environment as a whole.

This truly is the climate election. We need to act now to secure a future for our children.

As the Brexit sideshow continues, overshadowing the real policies we need to get in place such as protecting our NHS, returning it to the world leading service it should be, and ensuring it remains free at the point of use.

Reversing austerity cuts which have done nothing except increase poverty and reliance on food banks, of which there were 57 in 2010 and today 424. With studies showing one in 50 households used a food bank in 2018-2019, we need to protect society’s most vulnerable. Also, tackling the housing crisis which has seen homelessness and rough sleeping increase year on year since the start of this decade.

We need to have a final say on Brexit, a people’s vote with three options: leave the EU with no deal, leave with the negotiated deal, or remain in the EU. The political landscape has changed so much, we need to know what the country wants now, and look to mend the divisions created within our society.

Finally, why am I the right person for this job? I’m standing for election because we need change, politics is broken, and we need fresh representation, people who represent all of us.

I’m a projects manager, I work in construction; I’m not a politician. I’m here because I believe we can do things better. We can work for the common good, create change, and make a fair society for all.

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