Ellesmere Port has some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country – what is being done to improve these neighbourhoods?
The situation is getting worse, not improving. Some children are living in severe poverty. Locally one third of those using food banks are children. One in three families with children are subsidised by grandparents. Demand for food banks here has grown rapidly. Left Unity calls for a £10 minimum wage and an end to sanctions. We need good quality sustainable jobs. Building council homes with passive heating would create jobs. Secure employment is needed, not contract or zero hours jobs. Good quality child care and a fully funded NHS are essential. Secure licensed tenancies for private tenants and rent control would help. Accessible and reliable public transport facilities are needed. We also need both youth services and good social support for older people.
Do you support fracking in the town?
Absolutely not. Fracking itself is dangerous. We should be moving to protect the environment, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewables. The processes and chemicals used are noxious. Fracking under Ellesmere Port though is a higher level of madness. It is hazardous. We have the oil pipe line to the airports, the massive oil plant that was Shell, Urenco working with nuclear products, a huge car factory and we frack under that? Bad enough to “Frack in the desolate north”, but to frack under heavy and volatile industrial plants, defies belief.
Should the M53 be moved out of town as suggested by Cllr Mike Jones to reunite the town centre and the waterfront?
The Ellesmere Port water front is beautiful and could be better still. We need a regeneration programme for the whole town and older industrial areas. Access to the waterfront from the town centre is difficult. Linking it into the town centre would be a good idea. Why, though, can money be found for projects such as this when our hospitals are struggling, people are being sanctioned? The poorest in Ellesmere Port are forced to contribute more in council tax when they can’t afford it. This is the highest level in the country.
Is the new borough council better for the town than the previous Ellesmere Port and Neston Council?
No but probably because of the political stance the council has taken since it began. Cuts, outsourcing, privatisation, reduced levels of pay have impoverished many families. Ellesmere Port and Neston though was not an Education Authority. As an Education Authority CWAC is appalling. Central Services for Special Needs have been seriously damaged. Fine, specialist teachers have been sacked. The service is in tatters. Teachers from other areas are incredulous about the deep cuts that we have experienced. Who pays for austerity in Cheshire West and Chester? It’s children with special needs and their teachers.
Are local bus services good enough for those who wish to reach education or employment or visit family and friends?
Bus services are appalling. Buses in London are fast, modern and reliable. Ours are unreliable and ridiculously dear. Those who can’t drive are stuck. Sometimes even getting to and home from work is difficult. The cost is a real barrier for families. It’s a barrier for students travelling to school and college, we need to have a publically owned, frequent and reliable and well-funded public transport service to help improve air pollution and reduce traffic on the roads. Buses need to be integrated with the train services so public transport becomes a real alternative.
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?
Town centres should provide areas for people to meet and enjoy themselves, not just spend money. Shops though only work if people have money to spend. Even the highest qualified jobs in the private sector have seen low or non-existent pay rises. Many new jobs don’t pay a living wage. Doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters, local government workers all have faced 1% or less in pay rises. The super-rich don’t often shop in Ellesmere Port, so really won’t help our shops. Ellesmere Port and Neston needs a pay rise to let people have money to spend. Improved public transport would help the town centre, without causing extra traffic. Yes, though, parking should be free, like the supermarket car parks and Cheshire Oaks. Parking is free in Neston but Neston town centre is also struggling.
Education: Warwick University – History and Politics. Teaching qualification and advanced qualifications in Special Educational Needs in the Mainstream school.
Occupation: Teacher (and campaigner)
Facebook page: Felicity Dowling for Ellesmere Port and Neston
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