Readers’ election panel for Huntingdonshire is revealed
- Credit: Archant
There are fewer than 60 days until the general election which is being described as pivotal.
To help guide you through the weeks leading up to May 7, a cross section of Hunts Post readers have joined our election panel to provide insight and comment on announcements and issues and what it means for people in Huntingdonshire.
Since the last election we have had an A14 upgrade plan scrapped then reignited as well as other road improvement schemes planned, a hospital run by a private firm to go back to public management and significant housing developments.
Our panel will say what they’d like to see in Huntingdonshire and nationally, starting this week with the final budget of this parliament next Wednesday, March 18.
We are also looking for another person to complete the panel, with St Neots under represented so far.
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In the Huntingdon constituency, Conservative incumbent Jonathan Djanogly will look to defend the seat he has held since 2001. Challenging him, so far, will be Labour’s Dr Nik Johnson, Paul Bullen for UKIP, Lord Toby Jug of the Eccentric Party of Great Britain, Liberal Democrat Rod Cantrill and Tom MacLennan of the Green Party.
Justice minister Shailesh Vara will be defending his North West Cambridgeshire seat from UKIP challenger Peter Reeve, Nicola Day of the Green Party, Labour hopeful Nick Thulbourn and Nick Sandford for the Liberal Democrats.
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The only MP to definitely change will be Andrew Lansley who is stepping down from his South Cambridgeshire seat. In his Conservative place, Heidi Allen will be fighting against Simon Saggers of the Green Party, Sebastian Kindersley from the Liberal Democrats and Sue Birtles for Labour. A number of seats on Huntingdonshire District Council will also be contested, as will Huntingdon, Ramsey and St Neots town councils.
The final list of candidates will be announced at the end of April.
INFORMATION: To take part on the panel, email firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, age, address, occupation, who do you live with, do you have children, who did you vote for in the last election, a short description of your life in the past five years and a contact number.
Meet the panel:
Robert Mullineaux, 89, is a retired computer consultant who lives with his wife in Great Stukeley.
He has seven children, 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr Mullineaux has cared for his wife since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007.
He said: “One assurance I would like to see in the March budget would be a Norwegian-type fund into which the surplus wealth produced by say UK fracking income is deposited.
“In times of plenty save unlike the disgraceful squandering of the UK oil income in the not too distant past.”
St Ivo student Grace Corn will be voting in her first election.
The Year 13 student is studying history, English literature and politics for her A-levels and is looking to read politics at university next year.
Miss Corn, 18, is also a lifeguard at St Ives One Leisure and lives with her parents and younger sister in St Ives.
“In the 2015 budget I would like to see a rise in the minimum amount of money available as a part of the maintenance loan for students,” she said. “The cost of living is always increasing. I don’t think it is fair that students should have to rely so heavily on their parents or guardians to send money each month, or that it is entirely possible for students to be holding down two or three jobs, while in full-time education, just to get by.
“I know that personally, the maintenance loan that I am entitled to will barely cover the cost of my rent. I think that a Government made up of those who had their university education for free should be a little more understanding, and if the maintenance loan system doesn’t change then further education will be limited to the wealthy.”
Helen Haynes is a stay at home mother living in Needingworth.
The 48-year-old is married to Peter, a self-employed driving instructor and lives with her daughters Alex, 24, and Rachel, six. She also has a 26-year-old son, David, who works and lives in London.
She said: “My husband’s work was quieter than usual for two years about five years ago but has now picked up back to the time before the economic climate cooled. Although we always managed, we were definitely more careful at least for a time.”
Helen added: “In the budget, I would like to see more spending on: NHS, Cambridgeshire schools and local affordable housing for young people as well as a crack down on tax dodgers and raise duty on betting and gaming.”
Michael Boyles is 60 and a former public servant from Ramsey.
The grandfather worked for almost 40 years and took up early retirement after contraction of the public services. He has seized the opportunity to pursue other interests and get married to his partner as well as start a new life with her in Ramsey.
In the election Mr Boyles would like to see: “A fairer distribution of the tax burden with reduced pressure on middle income earners. This could be achieved through more effective taxation for the super-rich and tax-avoiding corporations, and the financial elite, combined with reductions in VAT on all items that could be deemed to be ‘essential’.”
Nineteen-year-old Rachel Pask is concerned with the Government’s policy’s on education.
Miss Pask, who lives with her parents in Fenstanton, was in the first group of students to complete A-levels without January resits.
She said: “This meant there was an increased importance in the AS-level results and also greater pressure during the A2 course, exams and while choosing universities.
“I will be completing my degree course at the higher tuition fee rate of £9,000, while my brother went to university three years earlier at a lower rate. As a result I will have a greater amount of debt to repay when I start earning.”
Miss Pask added: “I would like to see an increase in the funding of education in the budget, as improved education will create a stronger workforce, enabling greater support for the growing elderly population.
“A decrease in tuition fees for university is also a key point for me, as is an increase in the financial help available to students from a lower income background, as higher education should be made more readily available to students from all backgrounds.”
Tony Larkins is managing director of Kimbolton firm Beacon Wealth Management.
Mr Larkins, 53, employs more than workers at the financial advice firm. He lives in Hail Weston with his wife and son, 25. He also has a daughter, aged 28, who is married with a daughter, one.
In the Budget next week, he hopes for tax simplification, personal tax allowance to be increased to £12,000, employers’ national insurance contributions to stop at retirement age and a flat corporation rate at 20 per cent.
He would also like to see inheritance tax to exclude up to £500,000 of house value, as well as dividend to be taxed at marginal tax rates or individuals and with employee national insurance added if own over one per cent of a company.