This week we’re asking the six general election candidates for the Altrincham & Sale West constituency for their views on certain key issues.
Last week we asked our Facebook community for the questions they’d ask the candidates: Sir Graham Brady (Conservative), Geraldine Coggins (Green), Angela Smith (Liberal Democrat), Andrew Western (Labour), Neil Taylor (Liberal Party) and Iram Kiani (Independent).
We’ve selected a shortlist using a mix of questions that were upvoted by the community and questions that ensure the candidates cover as broad an array of topics as possible.
Each candidate has then had a few days to come up with their answers to the same set of questions.
Today it’s the turn of Liberal Democrat candidate, Angela Smith.
DAN McMULLAN: What are the candidates’ views on assisted dying for the terminally ill – this is a topic which I’ve not heard any party talk about but is a matter a significant number of people believe needs looking at again.
ANGELA SMITH: The law as it stands is unsatisfactory in this area. I supported the Bill originated by Falconer of Thoroton. Unfortunately, however, this bill failed when it came before the House. Hopefully, in the future, the House of Commons might get a further opportunity to discuss this most sensitive issue.
VITTORIA ELISA: Will you protect Green Belt land in the area?
ANGELA SMITH: Yes the protection of the green belt in my view is very important. One of the major problems with our planning system is that it is developer led and developers will always wish to develop where they can maximise profits. It is up to the public sector therefore to guard against encroachment. At the moment, this does not seem to be happening in many areas.
NICK ROBINSON: What, in your view, are the causes of us needing to have five food banks in one of the richest constituencies in one of the richest countries in the world?
ANGELA SMITH: Food bank use in the last four years shows nearly 3.7 million adults (one in 14 Britons) have been forced to obtain a meal from a food bank at least once, as of 2018.
The five-week wait for Universal Benefit is a key driver of food bank use. For April to September 2019, Trussell Trust food bank users said they were forced to seek free meals due to: insufficient benefit income (36%), delays in benefit payments (18%) and changes to benefit (16%) – damning evidence of the Tories’ shambolic roll out of Universal Credit.
JAMIE BUCKTON: With the large increase in crime around the constituency over the last couple of years, what are your plans to tackle it?
ANGELA SMITH: Please answers below.
SARAH SCOTT: Given Altrincham and Sale West is a Remain voting area, how will you represent your constituents on the Brexit issue?
ANGELA SMITH: As a committed remainer, I will, if elected campaign and for a confirmatory vote on any deal that is agreed by the House of Commons. It is also well known that, if the Lib Dems win a majority of seats they would stop Brexit immediately.
KATIE SALINGER: I’ve seen manifestos from the parties with details of what each party will deliver. A lot of those promises are longer term, and outside of the immediate 5 year fixed term. What promises are you making for the immediate 12 months after your election in our constituency?
ANGELA SMITH: A Liberal Democrat Government would Stop Brexit which would generate a Remain Bonus for the public finances, because the economy will grow more quickly than under Brexit – and therefore government receipts will be larger.
We forecast that the economy will be 1.9% larger in 2024-25 if we stop Brexit than it would be under the Conservative government’s Brexit deal. That means government receipts will be higher too, providing a £50 billion Remain bonus over the next five years. We will invest this money in our public services in the next parliament. We will also put 1p on the rate of income tax which would be ringfenced for the NHS and social care.
MICHAEL BATTMAN: What are the candidates’ views on state-funded religious schools?
ANGELA SMITH: All parents should have choice for their children. All schools, however, whatever their status should seek to maximise the potential of every child and teach the full curriculum.
ALISON O’CONNELL: What’s your stance on WASPI women – will you be supporting an initiative to make up the £40,000 in lost pension we have lost?
ANGELA SMITH: There are an increasing number of pensioners in the UK and we must ensure they have access to sufficient income.
The government’s failure to properly notify WASPI women to the changes to their retirement age has meant that people have been left unable to properly plan for their retirement, and it is right that they are compensated for this.
DANIELLE MOLYNEUX: How are you going to address the climate crisis?
ANGELA SMITH: Liberal Democrats would place climate change at the heart of government. The UK led the world by passing the Climate Change Act in 2008. The UK must become a global leader again. Parliament has changed the law to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 but the Tories have put forward no plan for how to achieve it.
Liberal Democrats have a plan, we will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the very latest. But we must cut emissions as fast as possible. A Liberal Democrat government will halve emissions by 2030 compared to today.
Over the next 10 years we will build a brighter future by insulating every home by 2030 through an emergency ten-year programme – reducing carbon emissions as well as cutting bills. We will prioritise those in fuel poverty by 2025.
We will generate 80% of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
EMMA STANTON: What are you going to do about the fact that there is now a generation of young people who were born and raised around Trafford who can now not afford to live in their hometown because house prices / rent are completely unattainable in this area?
ANGELA SMITH: Britain is in the middle of a housing crisis. People are crying out for affordable homes and secure tenancies. Homelessness is increasing, while house prices have grown way above the rate of inflation and the number of social homes are dwindling.
For decades, successive Conservative and Labour Governments have not built enough homes. This lack of building has left us with a crippling undersupply and an industry that is only producing roughly half of the houses we need. The homes that are being built fail to meet sustainable standards.
Liberal Democrats would build 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensure that housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year.
PAUL McCARTHY: Will you support the saving of Stamford Park Infant and Junior Schools from demolition, in favour of architectural remodelling on the same site?
ANGELA SMITH: My understanding of the situation is that Stamford Park Infant School is in poor condition and had to shut recently to allow microbiologists to inspect the premises because of high levels Aspergillus. Of course any merger and re-building should only happen if that is what the schools want. If they do not wish to merge, given the condition of the buildings any remodelling would need to take this into account making the buildings fit for purpose.
ANNA WHITE: What youth services are you going to provide within the borough to help reduce knife and other crime? (Anne White)
ANGELA SMITH: Liberal Democrats are committed to investing in the battle against knife crime by:
- major reinvestment in youth services;
- making youth services a statutory service, protecting them from cuts;
- working with local government to produce clear guidance for councils for what they should be doing; and d. enough grant funding to match that service provision.
ROSA CROSBIE: How do you propose to tackle the problem of groups of young people committing anti-social behavior and assaulting and intimidating both youngsters and adults?
ANGELA SMITH: A Liberal Democrat Government would invest £1 billion to restore community policing, enough for two new police officers for every ward. We will restore youth services and bring police, teachers, health professionals, youth workers and social services together to prevent young people falling prey to gangs and violence.
MARK GORMAN: What’s your favourite cheese?
ANGELA SMITH: Stilton.