Ellesmere Port has some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country – what is being done to improve these neighbourhoods?
There have been many attempts to deal with this historical problem. The Ellesmere Port Area Action Plan’s aim to improve these areas by bringing together organisations and individuals who can make a difference is essential. That means addressing health issues (smoking and obesity) by focusing on well-being incentives; providing activities for teenagers (as highlighted in the 2008 Place Survey); and more pro-active policing. The new CWaC Local Plan states that a high level of new housing will be built, to tie in with employment opportunities and meet the need of the local community.
Do you support fracking in the town?
No. I don't believe that fracking provides the answer to our energy needs, but clearly we do need more energy sources focusing on renewables, particularly wave or tidal power, and energy efficiency. The side effects from fracking - air and water pollution, cannot be ignored. We are told that fracking is safe if properly regulated; that’s a big “IF”. If fracking is not acceptable for countries like France and Germany then it cannot be right for our densely-populated island and for this area in particular, which is home to such sensitive facilities as Capenhurst and the Stanlow Oil Refinery.
Should the M53 be moved out of town as suggested by Cllr Mike Jones to reunite the town centre and the waterfront?
No. That very radical suggestion was made in 2011 prior to the waterfront being the draw attraction for new businesses which it is today. Whilst I acknowledge that it does form a barrier to pedestrian movement within the town; I think that the solution to the problem lies with more investment in community transport links. The M53 was built to facilitate easy access to and from the Vauxhall Plant. The cost of re-routing and lack of a better alternative renders this suggestion not worthy of consideration in the short or medium term.
Is the new borough council better for the town than the previous Ellesmere Port and Neston Council?
No. Liberal Democrats believe in Localism. We believe that local knowledge is very important to delivering the best outcomes and some people consider the new borough council to be too Chester-centric. The town is clearly going through a period of transition right now but it was the EP&N Council which brought us Cheshire Oaks and the Blue Planet Aquarium and, some argue, could also have secured the recently-granted Assisted Area Status and funding from the EU.
Are local bus services good enough for those who wish to reach education or employment or visit family and friends?
No. The current provision does not make it easy for residents to get to work outside the area and the borough council’s decision to stop the use of bus passes on community transport has had a dramatic effect on many in our community and [other] volunteer organisations. This, in turn, impacts on the sustainability of the community itself.It is a pity that the bus station is not located next to the railway station.
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?
Not all town centre parking. Yes, for Westminster Road because we desperately need to retain those small businesses. No, for the inner town centre car parks. From recent conversations with shoppers coming to the arcades and market, it is clear that they think the current parking fee is reasonable 70p for up to 4 hours and 50p for up to 2 hours; free after 3pm. Having no charge at all in a popular town centre car park could stop the movement of cars, whereas at out of town shopping centres, the issue is unlikely to arise.
Education: Helsby Grammar School
Occupation: Neston Town Councillor for past four years (unpaid). Community volunteer one day per week for Helplink
Website: www.ellesmereportand nestonlibdems.org.uk
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