Today's Sidmouth Herald website reports -
Independent launches election manifesto
06:22 30 January 2015
Independent parliamentary hopeful Claire Wright revealed this week the policies she hopes will see her voted in as East Devon’s MP in May.
Dozens of people gathered at the Exmouth Rugby Club this week as Claire Wright launched her manifesto. Ref exe 6278-05-15SH. Photo Simon Horn
Councillor Wright, who currently sits on the district and county councils, called for laws compelling house builders to redevelop ‘brownfield’ sites instead of the greenbelt.
In front of 100 people, she was quizzed on her policies, acknowledging that there was ‘no bottomless pit’ of cash and added: “I feel that they [the Coalition Government] are spending money on the wrong things, and that needs to be changed.”
Responding to concerns over the closure of hospital beds in Ottery St Mary and Budleigh Salterton hospitals, she said: “They say it will save money, but that isn’t the case.
“[At County Hall] We interviewed a GP…and it was revealed that the decision made at [their local hospital] at best would be cost neutral. All it will do is put more pressure on the carers in homes.”
Cllr Wright railed against proposed county cuts to bus services that would leave some ‘isolated communities’ cut off. She said: “If it wasn’t for central government those cuts would not have to be made.
“I’m certainly opposed to those cuts - we need more investment in local rail services.
“They spent £3billion on reorganising the health service. The Health and Social Care Act has been nothing but damaging, privatisation through the back door.”
She branded police and crime commissioners ‘a waste of money’ and added: “Tax breaks for big businesses, why are we doing that? What about helping our local independent businesses which are struggling?”
Mrs Wright painted a picture of a ‘bulldozer-like’ East Devon District Council (EDDC) which didn’t listen to other views.
She responded to Tory plans to stop the subsidy of wind farms and said: “Many are concerned about the landscape impact of wind and solar farms, I understand that.
“Rather than having speculative planning applications coming in - solar farms in particular, which can be very visually intrusive - what we need to do is sit down at the beginning of the Local Plan and work out where those solar farms or wind farms might be best located to minimise the impact on the land. That would hopefully prevent them coming forward speculatively and sporadically.”
Mrs Wright called for more councillors of other political parties to stand at this May’s town and district council elections, adding: “We have a Conservative crime commissioner, a Conservative MP and every council locally is Conservative.”
“The county council...tends to be, fairly progressive, but the district council is...a dinosaur. It has always had a large Conservative majority...getting things through is quite difficult because they block vote, and that can’t be good for democracy.
“People are tired of the old political parties, and May 7 has to be about getting a better balance on EDDC, and [a greater number of] other councillors, especially independents, because they don’t have to toe a party line and can vote with their consciences.”