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 Liberal Democrat candidate, Andy Corkhill.
- 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?
Andy Corkhill: For 25 years, Conservative and Labour Governments have been competing to seem tough on crime, without doing enough to actually prevent crime. Statistics show this. Liberal Democrats will build safer communities with more police and a proper public health approach to serious violence. We will 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. Instead of wasting money locking people up on short sentences that don’t work, we will spend it on the things that actually prevent crime. And we will stop Brexit and maintain the European crime-fighting tools that keep us all safe.
- What will you do to ensure the NHS services on the Wirral have the people and resources to provide support we need?
Andy Corkhill: The Lib Dems will put 1p on the pound in an ‘nhs tax’ which will immediately inject £7billion a year to stop the crisis. We will reform the Health and Social Care Act so that it works in a more efficient and joine-up way. The most important thing for me personally is that we will equalise mental and physical health funding. A lot of the time these two things arise at the same time, but only the physical health aspect is addressed.
- 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?
Andy Corkhill: Before becoming involved in politics I was an environmental activist – it forms the core of my political thinking. The Lib Dems were a perfect fit for me, primarily because of their policies and track record on fighting for climate justice. We have an environment policy that is the most detailed in our history. We will tackle biodiversity loss and promote cleaner air initiatives through a minimum of 60 million extra trees a year, and invest in renewable power so at least 80% of electricity is procured this way 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?
Andy Corkhill: Incredibly unfair. For a long time I have advocated free parking at all leisure centres and hospitals. We should be doing all we can to encourage use of the Concourse, keeping the people of Wirral West fit and healthy and allowing a community spirit to grow.
- 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?
No answer provided.
- What do you think needs doing to improve the waterfront at West Kirby?
No answer provided.
- 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?
Andy Corkhill: This was a terrible idea that has only gotten as far as it has because of discussions and decisions taken without proper scrutiny. It will be devastating for the environment, and will not bring enough benefits to the area to outweigh the many, many costs to Wirral. The Council had to loan the construction company £26 million to make it happen. This leads to the question: if the Resort is such a good idea, why did the Resort need a loan from the Council?
- 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?
Andy Corkhill: Small businesses form the backbone of the local economy, and the government should support them as much as possible. They create a community feel that is difficult to replicate. Unfortunately we have Conservative government that has consistently made it harder for small businesses to grow, and a Labour Council that doesn’t value them. The Lib Dems are the party of business. We will create a start up allowance that will help small and medium businesses in the crucial months of inception. We want to help develop social enterprises – businesses with a social focus alongside promoting profit.
- What is the right balance in the ongoing tension between managing future development and retaining the charm and attraction of West Kirby and Hoylake?
No answer provided.
- What is your favourite place in West Kirby, Hoylake or Meols, and why?
Andy Corkhill: As a former Wirral Grammar School pupil, and hockey player, I am fond of Caldy Grange’s astroturf. That’s because when I was at school, Caldy dominated us year on year. My year was different however, and for the first time in a long time we didn’t just beat Caldy, but destroyed them 7-1 on their own patch. Like I said, my year was an outlier, but it was nice to get one over on the auld enemy. Now, every time I drive passed the pitch, I tell whomever I with in the car all about that famous day.