Meet your election candidates for Morecambe and Lunsdale

Since 1979, Morecambe and Lunesdale has been noted as a “bellwether” political seat - one that leads or indicates change. This week, the parties battling to take control of the constituency lay out their policies. Nick Lakin reports...

In 2010, the Conservative Party won the Morecambe and Lunesdale parliamentary seat by 866 votes.

The fresh faced hopeful David Morris relieved the town’s long standing Labour MP Geraldine Smith of the seat, with a 6.9 per cent gain for the Conservative Party following 14 years of Labour.

Prior to that, the Conservatives held the seat for many years.

Mr Morris received 18,035 votes, while Ms Smith got 17,169.

The turnout was 43,436.

Five candidates stood in 2010 - with Liberal Democrats geting 5,791 votes, UKIP getting 1,843, and the Green Party getting 598.

So far in 2015, four candidates have stepped up to the mantle.

Morecambe and Lunesdale covers Morecambe, Heysham, Skerton, Carnforth, Bolton-le-Sands, Halton, Torrisholme, Silverdale, and parts of the upper Lune Valley.

Here, we find out what the candidates think matters most to voters in the area.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Matt Severn

Works in insurance.

Lives in Kendal with his wife where he is a South Lakeland District Councillor.

My top three priorities for Morecambe & Lunesdale are jobs, transport and the NHS.

I grew up in Bolton-le-Sands, I went to school there and my friends and family still live in the constituency so for me the campaign is deeply personal.

I know how fantastic an area it is because I know the people who live here and make it that way.

We need more jobs in the constituency. By laying the groundwork for the economic recovery the Liberal Democrats have created the environment for better jobs and higher wages.

We have reduced the tax burden on ordinary people by increasing the personal allowance. Thousands of the lowest paid people in the constituency now don’t pay income tax and for this election I pledge that if elected I will fight to raise the personal allowance even further, to £12,500.

The Lib Dems believe in engaging positively with Europe and it is by keeping this connection that we will get the European investment that we need to build the new power station at Heysham and create hundreds of fantastic jobs for local people.

We need more apprenticeships for our local young people as well, which is why I am delighted that the Lib Dems have increased the levels of funding and support for apprenticeships and sent the number soaring in Morecambe & Lunesdale to record levels – more than 4390 since 2010!

I promise to fight for the investment that we need for the NHS – not just for big hospital at the RLI but also for the Queen Vic in Morecambe and the GP surgeries across our communities that serve us so well. We are the only party to be pledging an additional £1 billion a year for our NHS and if elected I will campaign to secure investment for our area.

We need better buses and improved rail links. I pledge to fight for the upgrading of the Furness Line and to oppose the removal of modern trains from the Line.

I believe that with positive policies and an honest approach I can achieve big things for Morecambe & Lunesdale.

GREEN PARTY

Phil Chandler

IT specialist at Lancaster University.

Lives in Morecambe with his wife and two children.

Right across Europe people are saying ‘enough is enough’ to the old way of doing politics. The financial crisis in 2008 revealed the greed and incompetence of those we had trusted to run the economy. Rather than the people who had caused the crisis, it is the poorest and most vulnerable communities who have had to bear brunt of the resulting austerity.

The Green Party’s policies start from a very clear place. We believe that the well-being of everyone and the whole planet matters, not just the well-being of the rich and powerful. The current tax system ignores the fact that big corporatioms rely on ordinary people and our common natural resources to make their profits. No one becomes wealthy without relying on the country’s shared resources and services. I believe that those who have benefited most in terms of wealth should contribute the most in terms of maintaining those shared resources.

A flexible workforce is one that is well educated, appropriately trained and treated with respect. It is not one you can hire and fire at a whim, keep on zero-hour contracts or ditch to protect your profits at the first sign of trouble. The Green Party would ensure that the legal minimum wage is a living wage and would outlaw abusive contracts.

People contribute to their community and the country as a whole in many different ways; sometimes in waged employment, other times as carers, volunteers, grandparents, activists or artists; and at times we all need care. The Green Party would like to see a complete change in the welfare system and, in the long run, would like to see a basic income for all. This would remove the injustices and insecurity of means-tested benefits and allows people to adapt to the changes that life brings with confidence, not fear.

Some services and institutions are core to the well-being of this country and have no place in private, profit-motivated hands. We are committed to removing privatization from the NHS and education. A coherent approach to health includes not only making sure there are sufficient funds, but also strengthening community-based preventative medicine and support services. We would bring the railways back in to public ownership and we would take the power to create new money away from commercial banks and ensure that we, the people, benefit from controlling our own currency.

The Green Party takes seriously the threat of climate change and has the expertise and policies to tackle it with the required urgency. Here in Morecambe and Lunesdale, I believe we have the opportunity to use our considerable skills and natural resources to be a world centre in developing and manufacturing renewable energy technologies. We are committed to designing, building and investing in affordable energy-efficient housing, whilst upgrading the houses and buildings we already have. The Green Party offer a positive future to all generations in our area and have the courage to make this happen.

LABOUR PARTY

Amina Lone

Aged 43. Single parent of four children

Councillor in Manchester.

The biggest issue that comes up for us on the doorstep are the hospitals.

There are massive issues locally with a £25m funding gap. While the trust is saying they’ve got measures in place, services have already been cut and non-emergency operations are being cancelled. I’m pleased that Andy Burnham is making a special provision for this area, given its geographical issues.

There are big issues with the cumulative effect of cuts across the board, which are still causing big problems in our society.

Many people I’ve met on the doorstep feel like they haven’t had a local champion in Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Labour would combat zero hours contracts, cut the deficit down by raising the top rate of tax to 50 per cent, and look at sanctions to find out whether they are productive or not. Do they actually cost us more in the long term? Fraudulent benefit claims should be exposed, but people need help when they are in crisis. Even people in work are having a cost of living crisis. We’ve got to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour.

Labour is the party for small businesses. We will freeze business rates, and look at how we can further encourage investment in places like Morecambe.

Tax evasion has gone up under the Tories, and ordinary people have been hammered for it.

We want just and equitable policies and will push forward combined authorities and devolution plans.

We have the link road on the way, which was brought after 60 years of campaigning by local residents, local authorities, and cross party MPs, rather than the actions of our current MP.

We need to be building affordable homes, and helping apprenticeships get back on track after a big fall recently.

I’m not convinced by fracking, I think Labour has six conditions on it, but personally I think that fracking has got to be led by the local community, and not large corporations. It’s not in the community’s interest, and evidence seems to prove that there’s real environmental concerns.

In terms of unemployment, when the government counts people who are self-employed, part time or on zero hours contracts, they’re missing the point. There’s a massive in-work poverty issue. We want to invest in people.

I love the bay, I love the view. In terms of tidal and renewable energy, that’s something I would be championing if it’s environmentally stable.

I encourage people to contact us, speak to us. We need local champions. I’ve been working really hard for over two years in Morecambe and Lunesdale, and will continue to do so.

CONSERVATIVE PARTY

David Morris

Aged 49, lives in Caton.

Divorced father of two children.

Here in Morecambe And Lunesdale, there was very little investment before I became MP, and since then we’ve attracted about £1bn in new investment.

People gave me a chance, and now the economy is starting to recover and businesses are starting to spring up across the district, particularly at White Lund. The ports are being upgraded to allow for more freight, Opus North have planning permission for the Frontierland site, and Morecambe is back on the map for business. The new road which I fought for will ensure more money in the local economy.

With regards the health service, we’re having to sort out the problems that the previous government left behind.

The problems inside the health trust are being sorted out, and the trust is now in a good position to move forward positively.

TTIP will not affect the health service, it is all about a trade partnership, basically a global common market, and it won’t affect our services.

Under the last government the public sector got bigger, and the private sector decreased, and now we’re trying to get it the other way round.

The only way you can have a decent health service is by having a healthy economy.

With regards poverty, food banks and benefit sanctions in the Morecambe area, I’m still trying to get all the facts and data, and we’re looking at individual cases to find out exactly what is going on.

Unemployment is down considerably in Morecambe and Lunesdale, and there are now just 400 people unemployed.

The Job Centre is saying there are more opportunities in the area now than there has been for some time.

Ultimately, and I know this from experience, I don’t want to see people sitting at home doing nothing. I know what that’s like and people have got to get out and work and this leads on to other things.

I’m pro-fracking, and I’d be happy enough to allow fracking under my house. I understand and respect all the worry, but fracking has been around for a long time, it can be done safely, and causes far less of a blot on the landscape than wind turbines.

With regards the EU, the only way forward is a promise of an in or out referendum, and the Conservatives are the only party that can offer that in the next Parliament.

A common market is what we should be aiming for. We should be in Europe but not run by it.

The Prime Minister has stood up to the EU, and he’s used the veto more times that any other PM.

It is important that the city council gets its local plan in place so that things can move forward properly in terms of housing.

I expect new housing to come between the motorway junctions and Lancaster University, and some of the villages will benefit from extra homes.

I think the people of Morecambe and Lunesdale will realise I’ve got a lot done over the last five years. I’m not London-centric, and I’m not your archetypal Tory. People here are aspirational, and as long as I’m MP I’ll continue to fight for those aspirations.