What would you do to ease the pressure on the Countess of Chester Hospital?
Labour is the only party with a fully-costed plan for the NHS saying how we’d pay for our proposals: nationally 20,000 more nurses and 5,000 more doctors to help ease overcrowding, paid for by a mansion tax on £2m-plus houses.
We’ll boost the number of GPs and guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours so people aren’t forced to go to A&E when they can’t see their own doctor; we’ll stop privatisation so cash is spent on patient care not private profits, and end competition between NHS trusts so hospitals are working together not competing with each other for funds.
Do you think that the University of Chester should be allowed to expand unabated?
The University is an asset to our city and I like that its academic reputation is growing.
I’d like the university to be more proactive in community relations where problems do occur, and the council must develop a tougher planning policy to preventing inappropriate and speculative developments of student accommodation by private developers unconnected to the university.
I want more affordable family accommodation in Chester – currently private developers are allowed to build whatever will make them the most cash, rather than what the city needs.
How would you coordinate roadworks in the city to ensure the least disruption to commuters?
Better local transport includes strategies for improved bus services and safe cycling.
I want the Highways Agency to work in concert with local authorities, especially to make local motorways more resilient: every time there’s an accident on the M56, Chester grinds to a halt.
I’d also ensure other local councils, especially those across the Welsh border, coordinate better with CWaC: there were massive delays around Hough Green and Saltney recently because of work there at the same time as the Wrexham Road/A55 Posthouse Roundabout work.
All it should take is a phone call and a bit of common sense!
What is your tourist and shopping strategy for the city?
Chester is a wonderful and attractive place with a rich history, so it is not hard to promote our city. I fully support cross-party efforts to deliver the Northgate Development, and within that I want to see more support particularly for Chester Market’s traders and the city’s small independent traders.
Labour will slash and then freeze business rates to make it easier for businesses to start up and grow, so filling all the empty retail units in town.
Above all the MP is the main ambassador for the city, and must promote Chester at every opportunity regionally, nationally and internationally.
Are plans for the theatre ambitious enough?
I am pleased we are making progress with the new theatre, on a cross-party basis that will continue after the election.
Our ambitions should not be limited by the physical building but only by our talents and imagination: The theatre should be available to the whole arts community in Chester, including amateur and children’s theatre groups.
Local artists and art groups should exhibit works there and I would like to have workshops and master classes open to all Chester residents to make performing and creative arts available to everyone: a base to extend arts out widely across Chester and Cheshire West.
What are your plans to support Cheshire West and Chester Council in light of further cuts to its annual budget?
We’re still paying for the global financial crash caused by reckless bankers in 2008, so some cuts will happen.
Unlike the Conservatives’ slash-and-burn approach to essential local services, Labour will minimise cuts and ask those who can most afford it to share the burden, such as re-introducing the 50p tax rate for millionaires.
Our plans for merging long term social care into the NHS mean better and more efficient support for elderly and vulnerable residents who need looking after.
And Cllr Samantha Dixon and I will work as a team, banging on ministers’ doors to get the best deal from Government.
Chris Matheson Fact File:
- Education: Manchester Grammar School, London School of Economics
- Occupation: HR manager for a trade union
- Home: Hoole
- Website: www.chrismatheson.co.uk
- Twitter: @ChrisM4Chester
- Facebook: Chris Matheson for City of Chester
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