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 Green Party candidate, John Coyne.
- 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?
John Coyne: Money cut from local authorities must be restored by the next government. The Green manifesto would reinstate that money, i.e. £ p.a.. (Details of how money is raised to pay for such spending is available on page 84 of the manifesto here – https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/#gnd )
- What will you do to ensure the NHS services on the Wirral have the people and resources to provide support we need?
John Coyne: Reduce the burden on NHS by having the healthier population that would follow as active travel (walking, cycling, public transport) replaces the private car; reduce air pollution from traffic; ensure local authorities have full funding for social care to stop bed blocking; restore bursaries and provide free training for nurses.
- 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?
John Coyne: Our policies would achieve net carbon zero by 2030.
- 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?
John Coyne: There is no such thing as free parking – somebody pays for the land, maintenance and operation of car parks and if the benefits of that subsidy is limited to car drivers, that is unfair.
Charging for car parking is one useful tool in limiting traffic. Apart from disabled parking and other cases of special need, drivers should expect to pay to use car parking and this may help them decide to use active travel modes instead.
People in need of exercise may then prefer not to drive to a gym, but to enjoy the built in benefit of cycling there.
- 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?
John Coyne: The Green Party supports the planned regional community bank being established by Wirral, Liverpool and Preston councils. This will hopefully expand direct banking services in Wirral.
Nationally, the government should abide by the Appeal Court decision removing business rates from ATMs (cash machines) and not seek to impose business rates on this service.
- What do you think needs doing to improve the waterfront at West Kirby?
John Coyne: The proposed flood defence scheme should include enhanced provision for walkers and cyclists.
- 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?
John Coyne: The Golf Resort would be highly damaging to the local environment and is completely inconsistent with the climate emergency. I am delighted that the election of more Green councillors in Wirral has forced the council to abandon support for this ill-conceived scheme.
- 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?
John Coyne: Business viability would be helped by Green Party manifesto policies such as:
- lower corporation tax for small business;
- reduce VAT on food and drink served in pubs, bars and restaurants;
- introduce fines for large companies which make late payment to small business;
- a land value tax to replace rates would shift the burden away from small business renters towards the land owner.
And the Green aim of moving away from mass car ownership will make town centre businesses more accessible than out of town shopping.
- What is the right balance in the ongoing tension between managing future development and retaining the charm and attraction of West Kirby and Hoylake ?
John Coyne: Introduce planning policies to prohibit green belt erosion with a presumption against low density development.
Policies would favour car-free and compact new development and favour infill sites where they exist.
- What is your favourite place in West Kirby, Hoylake or Meols, and why?
I have fond memories of a childhood holiday at the seaside in Meols, but currently my favourite place is the aspect of West Kirby when emerging from the railway station.
The town centre has a feeling of liveliness and interest as a destination in its own right.
Reducing the dominance of traffic on that main road would make it even better, of course.