HEALTH, education, youth services, plastic reduction and tackling over-aggressive development have been named as the top priorities by a parliamentary candidate for Wokingham.
Dr Phillip Lee, who is contesting the seat for the Liberal Democrats, said that if he is elected on December 12, these issues would form his local plan.
He said that the areas cover issues that have come up on the doorsteps that he and his team have visited.
They are: fair funding for schools, improvements to primary health care provision, a reduction in plastic pollution, investment in youth services and controls over ‘guerrilla’ property developers.
“I have spoken to hundreds of residents, from Aldermaston to Wescott, over the last few weeks and there is a strong correlation about people’s local concerns,” Dr Lee said in a statement.
“These are the problems of uncontrolled development and the absence of proper infrastructure provision for new housing, lack of school funding and support for youth services, and, more widely, the high level of plastic pollution which too often finds itself on our streets and country lanes.
“None of these problems are particularly insurmountable, but they have never been properly addressed by those in authority. They have always been treated as someone else’s problem. Well, that has to change.”
And the candidate, who is also a practising GP, has a keen interest in the provision of primary health care – access to doctors’ surgeries.
“New developments are being built, but rarely do they contain a health centre, let alone plans for new GP practices to occupy them,” he said.
“This means that the new residents have to use surrounding surgeries, which puts pressure on their numbers and increases the waiting time to get a GP appointment.
“All of this is because no one has chosen to make healthcare provision a factor that needs to be taken into account when submitting a planning application. That means it is not the developers’ concern and, once the houses are built, the local CCG is under no obligation to provide facilities.
“A simple change to the legislation would mean that new developments could not get the go-ahead unless somebody had taken responsibility for the problem.”
Dr Lee said that he already has a track record of addressing these types of issues. As Bracknell MP he says that he campaigned for improved community health services, helping to secure the Brants Bridge Urgent Care Centre in 2014, a facility often used by Wokingham residents.
And he also draws on his experience as Justice Minister, where he says that he promote the Power of Sport to help turn around the lives of young offenders.
He believes that a similar approach can also help those who are at risk of falling into crime before they do so.
Furthermore, before the dissolution of Parliament his local team, in collaboration with a prominent local environmental group, began to challenge local supermarkets to reduce the level of plastic they use in transporting goods to their stores.
The party is also looking to improve school budgets. Nationally, the Lib Dems are planning to spend an additional £10 billion a year on education and hire 20,000 new teachers.
Dr Lee said: “School budgets have been cut to the bone and, across Berkshire, hundreds of schools rely on contributions from local parents and have had to make cut staff numbers to make ends meet.
“I have seen this first-hand and have worked with many schools to find them additional sources of funding. But this shouldn’t be necessary.
“If I become the next MP for the Wokingham constituency I would fight to reverse school cuts so that our children can get the resources they need to learn.”