Q&A with the five contenders to be Melton’s next MP

Residents in the Melton borough and Rutland will go to the polls to vote in the General Election next week EMN-190212-170250001
Residents in the Melton borough and Rutland will go to the polls to vote in the General Election next week EMN-190212-170250001
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Have your say

If you are undecided on who to vote for as Melton’s new MP at the General Election in just 10 days’ time, this is your chance to compare what each of the five candidates is campaigning for.

The Melton Times has put the same five questions to everyone in the running to find out just what they would try to achieve for residents in the Rutland and Melton constituency, their attitudes to Brexit and the personal qualities they think will help them represent the area’s interests in Parliament.

The Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland & Melton, Dr Carol Weaver EMN-191125-170235001

The Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland & Melton, Dr Carol Weaver EMN-191125-170235001

Alicia Kearns, who has Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence experience as a counter-terrorism expert, is favourite to succeed fellow Tory Sir Alan Duncan, who decided not to stand again following 27 years in the role, after winning a 23,000 majority at the 2017 ballot.

She will be challenged by another Brexit supporter, in Ukip candidate Marietta King, a local businesswoman.

Labour’s Andy Thomas, who has enjoyed a successful career in the public sector, voted to remain in the EU and is campaigning on social equality issues.

Alastair McQuillan, who works for JD Wetherspoon, will be standing for the Greens at a General Election for the third time in four years and is again championing the need to address climate change and other environmental issues, while highlighting the need to raise the low average wage of residents in the constituency.

Alicia Kearns, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland and Melton EMN-191125-165138001

Alicia Kearns, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland and Melton EMN-191125-165138001

Mr McQuillan and Liberal Democrat Dr Carol Weaver both favour giving the electorate another vote on Brexit. Dr Weaver, who has worked as a university lecturer and NHS counsellor, also wants to see more investment in public services.

All five candidates will be debating the important issues at a hustings event at Melton Baptist Church tonight (Monday), from 7.30pm until 9pm, with residents welcome to attend.

Here is an insight into what they will be campaigning on ahead of the vote on December 12:

DR CAROL WEAVER (LIBERAL DEMOCRATS):

Alastair McQuillan, the Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland and Melton EMN-191126-094411001

Alastair McQuillan, the Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland and Melton EMN-191126-094411001

Q1 What would be your three main priorities if you are elected as MP for Rutland and Melton?

Dr Carol Weaver: Firstly, create a brighter future for our children, our businesses, our workers and our farmers by stopping Boris Johnson’s catastrophic Brexit. Secondly, invest in our local services - health and social care, schools, transport and youth services - by reversing Tory cuts.

Thirdly, work towards a zero-carbon future to help stop the climate emergency, clean up our air and produce a better environment at local, national and global levels.

Q2 Do you support Brexit and what do you think will be the impact on residents of Melton and Rutland when the UK finally leaves the EU?

Labour Party Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Rutland and Melton seat at the 2019 General Election, Andy Thomas EMN-191125-170344001

Labour Party Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Rutland and Melton seat at the 2019 General Election, Andy Thomas EMN-191125-170344001

CW: With a People’s Vote we have the option of remaining in the EU and enjoying all its advantages, such as the single market, environmental protections, food safety standards, regional investment and our EU rights and freedoms. We can avoid the hard Brexit demanded by the Conservatives’ billionaire and oligarch backers. A deal with the US would lead to more poverty, more privatisation of the NHS, more expensive medicines and shortages, and devastating barriers to trade. ‘Melton Mowbray Pork Pies’ and ‘Stilton Cheese’ would no longer be protected names.

Q3 Please name one specific 
issue you would like to resolve in the Melton borough and explain why you think it is important?

CW: The main issue, according to a survey I conducted in Melton, is the reduced investment in public services resulting in long GP waiting times or in poor public transport. It is important to ensure that our towns and villages thrive by helping mobility and wellbeing.

Q4 How would you describe the role of an MP in terms of the balance of representing the constituency with demands from Westminster duties?

CW: My experience from residency in the constituency gives me an understanding of local issues, unlike a Londoner parachuted into a ‘safe Tory seat’ in order to serve a hard-right government. An MP must know and understand the constituency and its people and try to represent them all in parliament using balanced judgement. I would fight for an improved green and fair economy which helped rural areas such as ours.

Q5 What personal qualities do you have which would make you a good MP?

Marietta King, the Ukip Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland and Melton EMN-191125-170151001

Marietta King, the Ukip Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Rutland and Melton EMN-191125-170151001

CW: Having worked in tough environments, including overseas, I have the resilience to see things through in challenging conditions. My background as a university lecturer in politics, international relations and European security has given me strategic and analytical skills. My past experience in NHS counselling has helped me to develop the empathy to hear the concerns of my constituents and I have the necessary communication skills to represent them well in Parliament. l have also shown that I can work with honesty, integrity and care.

ALICIA KEARNS (CONSERVATIVE PARTY):

Q1 What would be your three main priorities if you are elected as MP for Rutland and Melton?

Alicia Kearns: I will fight for our fair share of Government funding so we can invest in our beautiful villages and market towns, our environment, social care, broadband, bus services, policing, our roads, and provision for our young people. I want to protect what makes Rutland and Melton so extraordinary, from our local pubs to the enormous sense of civic duty, the friendliness, and our very special way of life. We should all be able to rely on good health services close to home. I will work to secure a new GP surgery in Melton and increase GP provision across our area. I also want to invest in local mental health provision.

Nationally, my priority is to get Brexit done. I voted to leave, and as a democrat, I want to uphold the result of the referendum. I will back Boris’s deal so we can get back to dealing with the issues that matter the most to us all.

Q2 Do you support Brexit and what do you think will be the impact on residents of Melton and Rutland when the UK finally leaves the EU?

AK: I voted to leave the European Union and believe that we should respect the result. No divorce is perfect, but Boris’s deal takes us out of the Customs Union, the Single Market, and the European Court of Justice. My job is to make sure we secure the best opportunities from Brexit for Rutland and Melton, including a good working relationship with the EU. This includes getting the Agriculture Bill moving, so that our farmers and food producers are supported fully and there are excellent opportunities for our business owners to export internationally.

Q3 Please name one specific 
issue you would like to resolve in the Melton borough and explain why you think it is important?

AK: The priority issues for me in Melton are getting a new GP surgery built, delivering the bypass for which Sir Alan Duncan successfully secured the funding so we can get our town moving, and crucially getting us a fairer share of central Government funding to enable us to invest in our local services.

Q4 How would you describe the role of an MP in terms of the balance of representing the constituency with demands from Westminster duties?

AK: People go to their MP in their darkest moments, when there is nowhere else left to turn. I want to be that person for Rutland and Melton. I live in Langham with my family, and my pledge to my constituents is: I will be an MP who takes the time to listen to you, to advocate for you, and secure the change you need to make each of our lives better. My priority will always be you, and I will stand up for us all at Westminster.

Q5 What personal qualities do you have which would make you a good MP?

AK: I am someone who is compassionate and honest. My career has been dedicated to public service, working in counter-terrorism to defeat our enemies, such as ISIS. I understand duty, dedication, and hard work. Over the last few weeks I have visited over 25 villages and all of our beautiful market towns, knocking on doors, holding street stalls, meeting residents in our pubs, and attending local events. I hope to meet many more people over the coming weeks. My door is always open.

ALASTAIR MCQUILLAN (GREEN PARTY):

Q1 What would be your three main priorities if you are elected as MP for Rutland and Melton?

Alastair McQuillan: My top priority is a Green New Deal for Melton to create a strong and resilient community by supporting local business through scrapping unfair business rates and reducing the rate of tax paid by small business. Tackling the climate emergency at the speed and scale demanded by the science, putting us on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2030, and at the same time reversing inequality and rebuilding social cohesion.

That’s what lies behind the Green Party’s plan of action for 10 
parliamentary bills in two years - to tackle the climate crisis and kick start the transformation of Britain, in order to create a society that is equal, fair and works for everyone.

Q2 Do you support Brexit and what do you think will be the impact on residents of Melton and Rutland when the UK finally leaves the EU?

AM: Greens will introduce a bill for a People’s Vote so that people have the chance to decide on the future of our relationship with the EU, equipped with a full picture of the implications and trade-offs, not the lies and half-truths of the 2016 referendum campaign. And unlike Labour, Greens will be campaigning hard to remain inside the EU, where our social and environmental standards will be protected and improved, and freedom of movement upheld. If we were to leave the EU with no deal, I fear for the future of our farmers and industry that sell to the EU or face the threat of being undercut by imports from the USA.

Q3 Please name one specific issue you would like to resolve in the Melton borough and explain why you think it is important?

AM: Wages here in Melton are lower than the East Midlands’ average (Melton average weekly wage £512.70 vs East Midlands average weekly wage £547.40), so support for local business and industry through a comprehensive tax reform that moves the burden of tax from producers and workers instead to asset owners, land 
owners and polluters, will enable small business and hard-working families to keep more profit and earn higher wages, whilst improving the quality of life for everyone in the town. This, combined with our plans for a universal basic income, means every worker will be £1,400 better off under a Green government and be in a position to revitalise the local shops and markets with their hard earned money.

Q4 How would you describe the role of an MP in terms of the balance of representing the constituency with demands from Westminster duties?

AM: I think an MP, first and foremost, should be a champion for the local area they represent. The challenges we face in an area like this are not the same as in London or Birmingham. We need an MP free to speak up for the local area, not having to tow the party line or being told how to vote by a banker or union boss in London.

Q5 What personal qualities do you have which would make you a good MP?

AM: I’ve lived in and around Melton all of my life so know the area and community well. I’m always 
willing to sit down and have a chat with anyone and listen to what they have to say, preferably over a pint or two.

ANDY THOMAS (LABOUR):

Q1 What would be your three main priorities if you are elected as MP for Rutland and Melton?

Andy Thomas: There is so much to do. ‘Universal Credit’ is a monster; the PIP interviews are unfair. 345 emergency food parcels were issued here in the last six months. Labour will scrap it and build a new and fair system for those in need. There isn’t much for young people to do here at night. Inevitably the risk of drugs and alcohol multiplies. I’d work with some of the good people here to encourage environmental projects or a “Coder Dojo” computer club. The NHS is perhaps the most important structure that Labour ever introduced. We’re in danger of losing local services. We commit to keeping our NHS out of private hands.

Q2 Do you support Brexit and what do you think will be the impact on residents of Melton and Rutland when the UK finally leaves the EU?

AT: I voted Remain, but we lost. Just. Labour respects the electorate and will include a Leave option in next year’s referendum, between a better deal to Leave, and the best deal, which is to Remain. Under Boris’s ‘Free Trade’ deal, there is nothing to stop an American farmer in Melton, Missouri, selling Melton pork pies, using the good name that’s been built up here. The agricultural subsidies from Europe will stop, risking our farms turning into farming theme parks and ‘experiences’. Labour will protect our standards, our good name and keep sustainable farming alive.

Q3 Please name one specific issue you would like to 
resolve in the Melton borough and explain why you think it is important?

AT: Here, it’s bus travel. Young and older people, and parents with children, are trapped in their homes for want of a regular and reliable bus service. The bus

companies demand subsidy from the county council, but really they just want their shareholders’ profit. Labour will take bus travel back into public ownership and improve it.

Q4 How would you describe the role of an MP in terms of the balance of representing the constituency with demands from Westminster duties?

AT: I think voters here have been largely neglected for the last 27 years. I won’t seek attention by trying to become a minister. Mostly I will take an active interest in people’s welfare here. I’ll open an office very near to the voluntary advice agencies and find local solicitors willing to do some work ‘pro bono’.

Q5 What personal qualities do you have which would make you a good MP?

AT: I try to be kind, and I’m tenacious and determined. Don’t ever tell me ‘it can’t be done’. Join me with your creative spark that says ‘we’ll do it, like this…’

MARIETTA KING (UKIP):

Q1 What would be your three main priorities if you are elected as MP for Rutland and Melton?

Marietta King: First, meet and listen to as many constituents as possible, including our councillors, town, county and parish, from Bottesford, in the north, down to near Market Harborough in the south, from Thurnby and Stoughton (into Leicester) in the west and Ryhall and Essendine in the East (near Stamford). In fact, in all 36 wards in the Constituency!

Second, work with them to contain housing development and its impact on doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, schools and transport needs.

Third, address the decisions faced by school/college leavers, regarding the debt problem resulting from tuition fees for university courses, which may (or may not) lead to jobs, as against skills training, where there needs to be more real apprentices, leading to employment.

Q2 Do you support Brexit and what do you think will be the impact on residents of Melton and Rutland when the UK finally leaves the EU?

MK: Yes, I support our democratic vote to leave the EU. The referendum result was to leave the EU, no question of a deal. We should by now be enjoying the

benefits. Instead, we continue to send huge sums of money to unelected, self-appointed EU officials. As the fifth largest economy in the world, we voted to leave to be free to control our own brilliant British way of life, for the benefit of our future generations. If only we could get a clean exit (not a Withdrawal Agreement). In five to six years we will all be saying ‘why didn’t we leave in 2016?’, which is why we now demand a clean exit.

Q3 Please name one specific issue you would like to resolve in the Melton borough and explain why you think it is important?

MK: The Bypass. Finding the correct solution and quickly implementing it, will improve the environment, jobs and many of the other aspects mentioned in the question.

Q4 How would you describe the role of an MP in terms of the balance of representing the constituency with demands from Westminster duties?

MK: As a ‘back bencher’ I am hoping that my time will be generally divided 50/50 between being involved with my constituents here, and representing them in Westminster.

Q5 What personal qualities do you have which would make you a good MP?

MK: Having run a business in the constituency for well over 34 years, building and working with our team of loyal skilled craftsmen, together with a great sales team, I am a team builder. I feel I can use these skills in getting results for all of you.