Voters go to the polls on Thursday May 7 and there will be a great deal of interest in the Lancaster and Fleetwood seat.
Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw holds a majority of just 333 - one of the smallest in the country. This year’s election is one of the hardest to predict in years, and this marginal seat is also balanced on a knife edge. Here the candidates outline their campaign and their views on Fleetwood’s issues in particular...
Eric Ollerenshaw- Conservative
I was born and bred in Lancashire. A former history teacher, I have been honoured to serve the community of Fleetwood as your MP since I was first elected in 2010. If I am re-elected, I will continue to campaign in Parliament to ensure Fleetwood is not forgotten and that we can continue to get much needed investment into our town as the national economy improves.
As part of this improvement, the Government has recently announced that Fleetwood will receive £2.5m from the Regional Growth Fund for the much needed fish park which follows on significant investment into the sea defences, our primary schools and marine front. We’ve also seen investment in the Nautical College in Fleetwood as part of a new national energy college.
At the same time I will continue to push in Parliament for a better national policy on tidal energy so that we can finally see some movement in terms of the Wyre barrage while keeping up the pressure to stop any proposals for gas storage under the Wyre.
As most of you know I have always been prepared to work outside of party politics with town, district and county councils and alongside our fantastic voluntary sector to get the best for our town and this is more than ever necessary if we are to get even more investment into our roads and finally find a solution to get the NOW card used again on the trams.
Cat Smith - Labour
For many readers it will seem like the election has just begun, but for me we are final weeks of a campaign that began two years ago. That’s how long I’ve been out and about speaking with people across Fleetwood, on your doorsteps, at our community events, and latterly at Fleetwood Labour campaign HQ on Lord Street.
The biggest worry you tell me you have is about the future of the NHS. You’ve also told me is that the recovery the Tories’ boast about has not reached you. I’ve lost count how many of you have told me you’re struggling to balance the family budget with the uncertainty of a zero hours contract or wages that haven’t been risen as fast as prices. It’s been heart breaking to hear from those whose budgets used to balance, but don’t anymore because the Bedroom Tax has hit them hard.
My plan for Fleetwood is built on the fundamental principle that our town succeeds when the people of Fleetwood succeed. But I need your help to change things and build a better future. I’ll be a strong voice for Fleetwood, from the NoW Cards for the trams to building better transport links to bring in jobs. We need a Labour MP for Fleetwood and a Labour government who will ban exploitative zero hours contracts, raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, abolish the cruel Bedroom Tax and invest in 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs to give the NHS time to care.
Robin Long - Liberal Democrats
I moved to Lancaster in 2004 to begin a degree in Physics at Lancaster University, then stayed on to gain my PhD and took up research with the Particle Physics group. I am standing because I am unhappy with the alternative options. Talking to people during this campaign it was clear people were not happy with politicians. They felt none of them listened to their concerns – especially if the concerns run in opposition to the politicians’ views. It is this, and my own background in science that have helped shape my campaign. I want a more diverse House of Commons, not filled with career politicians but people from all backgrounds.
I joined the Liberal Democrats because their values resonated with me - best summed up in lines from the constitution: “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community.”
As a scientist I am trained to view and evaluate evidence, draw conclusions from sound reasoning, and then act on them. Politics lacks this method of thinking, often dominated by ideological nonsense and biased beliefs. With evidence and facts we can fight for an NHS that remains free at the point of use, where doctors and nurses control the NHS, not politicians.
Matthew Atkins - UKIP
I moved to Lancaster when I was 14 and I attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School. I am now a Phd student and seminar tutor in Law at Lancaster University. I got into politics because I want to see new opportunities in our area, especially for young people. I believe we need to support our fishing and farming industries by getting out of the EU and taking control back. EU quotas destroyed the fishing fleet in Fleetwood and I want to see policies which allow it to be rebuilt in a way which is good for Britain and for Fleetwood. To revitalise our constituency we need to improve local transport links through better road and rail links for Fleetwood, and buses for rural communities. I want to see more apprenticeships for local young people and technical jobs going to British school leavers and not EU migrants. I also want to see more focus on Northern Universities when it comes to research funding. UKIP will increase national NHS funding for doctors and nurses by £3bn, which will help address staff shortages in our constituency. We also need to make savings in public spending by leaving the EU, and cutting management, quangos and reducing foreign aid. In tough economic times I believe we need to encourage communities to pull together to care for the vulnerable and return to Christian values of family, neighbourhood and charity. I also stand for an end to spin and political correctness. I want openness and honesty in our politics.
Chris Coates - Green Party
I trained as a carpenter before becoming a project manager in the construction industry. I moved to Lancaster in the late 1990s after living and working for over 20 years in east Lancashire. I was elected to Lancaster City Council in 2003 and in 2005 became Lancashire county councillor for the Lancaster Central Division. I have particular interests in housing, climate change and the arts.
I have been coming to Fleetwood since the early 1990s. Firstly to attend the Fylde Folk Festival and then because it is a great place for a day out with family and friends. If elected for the Fleetwood constituency I would:
n Continue the fight against fracking and gas storage. Hard to get fossil fuels should be left in the ground we cannot afford to burn them if we are to stand any chance of meeting our climate change targets.
n Support the campaign for the extension of the rail line into Fleetwood – to get the waste lorries bound for Thornton off the road and to give back decent public transport links to the town.
n Work to get the introduction of marine reserves around the UK coast – so that fishstocks can recover and to give a chance for our local fishing industry.
I have been a supporter and member of the following organisations; CND, Shelter, Friends of the Earth, the RSPB and Frack Free Lancashire.
And I am currently learning to play the ukulele!
Harold Elletson - Northern Party
I am an international communications consultant and my family have lived and farmed in Lancashire for generations. I served from 1992-97 as MP for Blackpool North.
The Northern Party is the party of the North of England - a new political party which campaigns for real improvements in the lives of Northerners through decentralisation and the transfer of power to the North.
Our leading members and supporters are drawn from across the political spectrum – people who have previously supported other political parties and those who have never had any political allegiance before. Our Chairman is a former Conservative parliamentary candidate and our leader is a former member of the Labour Party. Our parliamentary candidates include people who have left the Tories, Labour and the Greens.
We all share the belief that politics in Britain is changing and that it’s time for a new start. Our loyalty is no longer to outdated ideologies, whether of the left or the right, but to the North of England and to a new beginning for our region.
We believe the current political system in Britain is no longer fit for purpose and that, instead of the present centralised system in which unfairness, corruption, inefficiency and waste are institutionalised, Britain urgently needs radical devolution and a new political system in which the regions, rather than London, hold the balance of power. We have both an opportunity and a duty to build a better, stronger, fairer Britain – one no longer dominated by London and the south-east.