Ellesmere Port has some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country – what is being done to improve these neighbourhoods?
The question asks what is being done now. The answer is not enough and the situation is getting worse. For example, the Cheshire Hunger report set out a worrying rise in the number of people relying on foodbanks locally. To tackle the problem we need to increase the number of local employment opportunities and improve transport for work outside the area. We need a fairer welfare system and an end to the punitive sanctions that put people in desperate situations. We need to end zero hours contracts and the bedroom tax that only make things worse for people.
Do you support fracking in the town?
There are genuine and legitimate environmental concerns over the development of shale gas. Despite clear flaws in the existing framework, the Conservatives locally and nationally have recklessly pushed ahead with the dash for gas at any cost. There are currently a number of regulatory gaps and environmental concerns that have not been addressed. We have no evidence that it is even economical to frack in this area and there is nothing to suggest our own local economy will benefit. Locally the Labour Group has called for a moratorium and as matters stand we should not consider fracking in Ellesmere Port.
Should the M53 be moved out of town as suggested by Cllr Mike Jones to reunite the town centre and the waterfront?
This idea was floated about four years ago and nothing has happened since because it was not a serious proposal and would be completely unaffordable. It would also involve the wholesale destruction of the greenbelt. I have consistently campaigned against development in our greenfields and championed the greenbelt so would not support this. Removing the M53 could also have significant implications for some of our local industries such as Vauxhall which rely on existing transport connections. We do need to improve the M53 as there is significant congestion at peak times.
Is the new borough council better for the town than the previous Ellesmere Port and Neston Council?
No. The greater capacity of one unified council should have been a good thing for this area but under Cheshire West & Chester Council we have become an outpost remote from the centre. The problem with the current Council is its out of touch and arrogant leadership. I recall early on in the council’s existence they rejected my proposal to have council meetings rotate around the borough to enhance its accountability and accessibility to local residents. Things have still not improved with decisions made undemocratically, in secret, it has an obsession with privatisation and wastes much of our money on telling us how good it is!
Are local bus services good enough for those who wish to reach education or employment or visit family and friends?
No. Bus users will have noticed poorer provision in recent years - a direct result of decisions made by the Conservative Council to reduce bus subsidies. What is the point of having Cheshire Oaks on our doorstep if you can’t get there by bus at night? How are local people especially our young supposed to work there if they are unable to get a bus home from the place? Sunday services are also very poor and I’ve campaigned for better services on Sundays around Whitby and Hope Farm. Labour would restore bus regulation, ensuring local people and not the bus firms would determine routes.
Should all town centre parking be free to boost the shops in what has been described as one of the poorest town centres in the country?
When I was leader of Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council I made the move to bring back free car parking in the town centre. What proved to be a much-needed boost to the town was reversed by the Conservatives when they took control of Cheshire West. I then put forward on several occasions fully funded proposals designed to reintroduce free parking but on each occasion they were voted down by the Conservative Council. I believe we should be working towards again making car parking free in our town.
Education: Law Degree, Sheffield University
Home: Little Sutton
Facebook page: justinmaddersforepn
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