With the General Election now just days away, we asked our local Lib Dem candidate, Millicent Scott, to answer the same questions we put to the other main candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Labour MP Andy Slaughter. So, for those residents of the Bush who still remain undecided, what do the Lib Dems offer the voters of Shepherd's Bush?
|Millicent Scott at Shepherd's Bush Market.|
Elections tend to focus on national issues, but for many voters local problems can be much more pressing. What would you say are the big issues that will face our community over the next five years?
Millicent: Locally some of the big issues include the construction of a fly-under (or tunnel) under Hammersmith Broadway to replace the current flyover, as well as the redevelopment at Old Oak Common where 25,000 new homes are being planned.
Other issues include the possible expansion of Heathrow, which Liberal Democrats are firmly opposed to. More air traffic into and out of Heathrow will mean more road traffic through Hammersmith and more noise and air pollution coming from overhead. All these things would be terrible for the environment - and that's not just a local issue. We need to think of different solutions for the 21st century. We need to travel less and by more environmentally sustainable means.
The future of our hospitals is also a big issue locally and we have a lot of thinking to do about how we want our 21st century healthcare provision to look. Until we have a firm plan for how to move forward, I think we need to stop all closures of hospital departments.
The Conservatives lost the Council Elections in May 2014, despite being a "flagship" Council, and apparently a favourite of David Cameron. What did they do wrong, and why did they fail to get re-elected?
Millicent: As a Liberal Democrat I don't think there are many things that the Conservatives do right! Fundamentally I think that people of Hammersmith want a fair society, a strong, stable economy and opportunity for everyone. That's why I think you should vote for the Liberal Democrats.
A big issue for us in Shepherd's Bush, especially families with young children, is the future of Hammersmith Park. Local opinion seems to be strongly against the Play Football development. Is there any realistic prospect of re-visiting the planning permission and changing the outcome?
Millicent: If I am elected as your MP I will do everything I can to support the local community in developing our shared community areas as local people want them. I think it's incredibly important that local people should be involved in planning and development to enable people to help shape their own local community.
An even bigger issue for many locals was the closure of Hammersmith A&E and Charing Cross A&E. Was this a closure too far and if so what can be done to restore our local health services?
Millicent: The NHS should be fully funded by government to allow doctors to do their work properly and keep medical care free at the point of use.
For too long politicians have been playing games with the NHS for short-term political gains. And it's got to stop. We've even got MPs claiming they can single-handedly "save" hospitals! That's just wrong on many levels.
Instead we need to have a grown-up public debate about how best to develop our network of hospitals across the UK to ensure that everyone has easy access to the safest and best medical care in the world. The debate should be led by qualified healthcare managers and experienced nurses and doctors as well as people who have experience of being patients. We should also look to other countries to learn from best practice abroad.
How and where we deliver the best possible healthcare is an issue that goes way beyond Hammersmith, but it's one that we need to open. We need to look at how we can get the quickest and safest access to hospital care - A&E and other types of care. Then we need to take it from there. Until there is a better plan and one that people have agreed to there should be no more closures. I feel strongly about this.
|Millicent supports reducing the voting age to 16|
Voters can often feel disconnected from both national and local politics - what can be done to make residents of Shepherd's Bush feel like their voice can actually make a difference?
Millicent: I used to be someone who felt disconnected from politics. I looked at MPs and saw a lot of posh old white men bullying each other. I didn't see myself represented by them. That's why I got involved myself. We need more women and more people from more diverse backgrounds in Parliament, so the first step is getting engaged and getting involved.
People can start by voting on 7th May! Also, you can get involved with your local residents' association or just get to know your neighbours. Ring their bell and say hello. Maybe they're moaning about the same things as you. If you get together you might be able to change them. It's all about getting involved.
I'm a local candidate. I was born in Hammersmith, I went to primary school and secondary school here and I live here now. I think that restoring the local connection to politics is really important too.
If you could change one thing about the way politics works at Westminster - what would it be?
Millicent: Only one?! There are so many things I want to change about Westminster. We need to reform the voting system so that there's no such thing as a wasted vote and everyone's voice counts.
We also need to stop the bullying culture where one faction is just trying to shout through their ideology and the other is just trying to shout them down. Instead we need more collaborative working that tries to figure out how to make the best policies for people. I also think that we need to give suffrage to 16 and 17 year olds. If you're old enough to pay tax, to go to war and to have children then you're old enough to have a say in how your country is governed.
Is it a two horse race in Hammersmith, and if so is a vote for a third party a wasted vote?
Millicent: A vote for what you believe in is never wasted. Thinking you might not win is no good reason for not standing up for what you believe in. I think it's incredibly important to stand up for what you believe in. That's what I'm doing. That's why I'm standing for Parliament. I want a fairer society and a stronger economy. I want to see children have the best possible start in life. I want the poorest people to be taken out of tax. I want to reform the way we do politics in the UK and I want more women and more young people engaged.