As the Parliamentary candidates campaign in what has been dubbed one of the hardest-to-call General Elections of modern times, The Chronicle has given them an opportunity to persuade you of their objectives and to win your vote.
Stephen Mosley, Conservative
Sitting Tory MP Stephen Mosley took the City of Chester seat from Labour’s Christine Russell in 2010 and hopes to cling on despite his slim 2,583 majority.
Stephen, 42, says his priority has been to champion Chester in Parliament, making the case for local investment with government, helping to secure improvements like the new theatre and rail electrification.
He points to lower unemployment, including youth unemployment. He says more companies have opened for business than ever before – ‘creating jobs and breathing life into the local economy’. He says apprenticeships are up by more than 100%.
Investment in the NHS has included a new 21-bed intensive care unit at Countess of Chester Hospital. He says: “Chester is a wonderful place to live. Ours is a city with long history, a proud present and future that excites us all. Together we’ve done a lot since 2010 – but there’s still more to do to make Chester even better”
Stephen has also campaigned to protect Chester’s Greenbelt. And he has backed constituents in need of his help like the Chester family of three-year-old girl Meg Burgess killed when a wall collapsed in Meliden, Denbighshire. Stephen, 42, who was deputy leader of Chester City Council until it was replaced by Cheshire West and Chester Council, lives in Westminster Park with his wife Caroline and their children Abraham and Minty. A graduate of Nottingham University, Stephen worked for IBM for four years before setting up his own IT consultancy in 1997.
Chris Matheson, Labour
Labour candidate Chris Matheson, from Hoole, believes his party offers a fairer future for Chester and the UK.
Mr Matheson, who studied economics and politics at the London School of Economics, has previously attacked the low wage economy in Chester, saying he believes in ‘hard work being rewarded’.
He told The Chronicle: “We’re going to end the privatisation of the NHS, start to put patients first rather than private profits, we’ve got real ideas to increase house building and to increase security for people in private rents. We’re going to protect school funding right from early years right through to the age of 18.
“We’re going to end the cruel bedroom tax and bring real prosperity back to all the people in Chester.”
Mr Matheson said Labour was the only party to offer ‘a positive vision’ which he says is resonating with residents. “People know the country isn’t working for ordinary people,” he said.
The Labour candidate has also come out against fracking, the controversial gas extraction method which is of concern to people living in Upton because it has been targeted as an exploratory site by energy company IGas.
Mr Matheson, 47, who works for the Unite union in London, is married to Katherine, who is originally from Ellesmere Port, with two daughters, both at school in Chester. He is an Everton fan, who hails from Daresbury.
He is quietly confident in terms of his chances. “We’re ahead at the moment and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be winning on May 7,” he said.
Bob Thompson, Liberal Democrats
Lib Dem candidate Bob Thompson has some exciting ideas for Chester including a tram system, the full excavation of the amphitheatre to draw tourists and reinvigorating the high street by supporting small businesses.
Bob, 59, who is stepping down this time as councillor for Hoole – the area where he lives and has represented since 2002 – is fully supportive of his national party’s emphasis on promoting education.
He says such policies would build on the coalition’s establishment of a Pupil Premium fund to help the most disadvantaged children and free school meals for infants so they are fired up to learn.
But in terms of local issues, Cllr Thompson said: “I believe the whole area of the amphitheatre should be excavated with a modern, vibrant, family-friendly museum on site.”
Creating the right infrastructure, which is not dependent on the motor car, is also key to handling residents and tourists. I want a tram system from Lache/Westminster park through the city to the zoo and a second line from Blacon through the city to Vicar’s Cross connecting with the park and ride and the city.”
Bob’s involvement in politics goes back to 1974 serving on parish, city and borough councils. He fought the nearby Eddisbury constituency at the 2010 General Election which was won by the Tories.
Bob, who lives with his partner Rose, has grown-up children James and Anna from a previous relationship. After 30 years in the chemical industry, Bob retired as INEOS ChlorVinyls human resources director in 2007.
Steve Ingram, Ukip
Ukip’s candidate Steve Ingram is a working class man from Blacon who wants to address the grinding poverty among hard-working families who are being forced to turn to food banks in his home city.
Steve is also worried about ‘studentification’ in certain areas and believes in the need to protect the green belt around Chester. He refuses to recognise the European Parliament, or the flag of the EU, because it has ‘no legitimacy’ in his eyes even though it has a huge influence on our lives.
Steve, who is also standing for Ukip in the Blacon ward in the council elections, reminded people on Facebook this week that Ukip topped the poll in last year’s European elections both across the region and in Cheshire West.
He wrote: “Very proud of Ukip Chester branch for an outstanding campaign. Let’s not forget, we also won the European elections in May last year putting the Conservatives second and Labour third. Thank you to everyone in Chester getting behind us.”
A former Labour supporter, Steve, 50, who is married to Elaine with three grown-up children, believes Ukip can take votes from both the Tories and Labour.
He told The Chronicle previously: “I’ve lived in the area of Blacon for 49 years since the age of one. At the moment it doesn’t matter what area of Chester we go to, whether historically it’s a previous Labour-supporting area or historically a Conservative-supporting area, that doesn’t matter any more. We can go all over this city and get huge amounts of support.
“The background of people’s previous political affiliation is now going out of the window because people want to see some sensible policies and sensible direction for this country’s long term future.”
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