We are asking the general election candidates for the Wirral West constituency for their views on certain key issues.
Last week we asked our Facebook community for the questions they’d ask the candidates: Andy Corkhill (Liberal Democrat), John Coyne (Green), Laura Evans (Conservative), Margaret Greenwood (Labour) and John Kelly (The Brexit Party).
We’ve selected a shortlist using a mix of questions that were suggested 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 Conservative candidate Laura Evans.
- Council and police budgets have been severely reduced in the last decade due to austerity, meaning the cutting of many essential services. How would you secure more taxpayers money for our area?
Laura Evans: If elected I will make it my priority to work with government ministers to make sure that Wirral gets its fair share of investment to meet our needs.
We must also remember that many decisions are currently devolved. So it is down to the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure that we are seeing the 200 new police officers being recruited in Merseyside deployed on our streets, not just in Central Liverpool. Or for Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham to ensure that we have adequate bus routes and transport links. We need to make sure that places like West Kirby are not being neglected in favour of Liverpool.
- What will you do to ensure the NHS services on the Wirral have the people and resources to provide support we need?
Laura Evans: It is vital that we invest in our NHS. That’s why I’m so pleased to say that we’re already seeing £18 million being invested in Arrowe Park Hospital. This money will be used to improve urgent care facilities at the hospital.
I’d also like to see investment in more parking spaces and transport links to the hospital so that people have less trouble attending appointments and visiting patients. If elected, I will work with misters to ensure that this investment in maintained.
- We live on the coast and are at risk of flooding. What practical steps would your party take in government to help to stop climate change and protect our environment?
Laura Evans: The Conservative Party is doing its bit to tackle climate change. Locally I would like to see the council take advantage of our initiative to introduce more charging points for electric cars. The funds are there however so far Wirral Council have not taken full advantage of this opportunity. We have also committed to reaching Net Zero Carbon by 2050 by investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
- People using the Concourse fitness/health centre have to pay a parking charge whereas at most others in Wirral it is free. Do you think this is unfair, and if so how would you go about changing it?
Laura Evans: Yes I do believe this is unfair and I would force this Labour council to reconsider their decision on parking charges. I believe we should offer people 2 ½ hours free parking in order to allow then to access facilities such as the concourse and also our shops and small businesses in West Kirby.
- The number of banks in the area has fallen dramatically in recent years and there are now just two left. What would you do to preserve counter banking services and cash machines for local people, many of whom are older and are not comfortable with going cashless?
Laura Evans: This is an issue which I have campaigned on a lot during my time living in West Kirby. I have spoken to the banks already and have been given guarantees they will remain open. We are looking into ways to deliver shared services in banks and post offices. We should also encourage businesses to use the banks so that they can continue to be viable.
- What do you think needs doing to improve the waterfront at West Kirby?
Laura Evans: The waterfront is the jewel in our crown and is one of the main reasons why I choose to live here with my husband. However it certainly needs some attention. The new defence wall needs to be reconsidered and subject to further public consultation. The marine lake is priceless and needs to be invested in to make sure it is clean and fit for purpose. The beach needs care and consideration to make sure it is clean and free of any invasive grass. Community groups want to help but clearly we need to see council maintaining the area.
- The proposed Hoylake Golf Resort has been a bone of contention since it was announced. Would it be a much-needed boost to the local economy, or should it driven into the bunker?
Laura Evans: The Hoylake Golf Resort has now been taken out of our hands, thanks to the fact that the previous Labour Council has already signed a behind closed doors agreement to continue with the project. This arrangement definitely needs full scrutiny. I have always made it clear, however, that I’m completely opposed to any proposal which would result in our precious Green Belt being paved over. Yes we do want to see investment in our area, but not in a way that puts our green spaces at risk.
- West Kirby has seen a high turnover of businesses, particularly restaurants, bars and pubs. Local business people say it is down to high rates and unrealistic rents – what would you do to help small independent business owners?
Laura Evans: I have always been a champion of our small businesses. We need to champion our high streets by making it easier to visit and shop there. We can do this by improving our bus links, and making sure that parking remains free on our high streets. I would also encourage all of our small businesses to take advantage of the governments business rate relief initiative, which allows our small businesses to claim back up to 100% of their rates which they can invest in growing their business and expanding local employment.
- What is the right balance in the ongoing tension between managing future development and retaining the charm and attraction of West Kirby and Hoylake ?
Laura Evans: I believe that when it come to development we should take a “brownfield first” approach. Wirral’s Labour Council has not yet produced a full local plan, putting our area at risk of unwanted reckless development. So I believe that the best way to manage development in a way that maintains the character of our area is to have a comprehensive local plan in place as soon as possible.
- What is your favourite place in West Kirby, Hoylake or Meols, and why?
Laura Evans: My favourite place is the War Memorial on Grange Hill. I love how peaceful it is there, as well as the wonderful views across Wirral and the Dee estuary.