The build up to the 2010 General Election
STANDING on a platform to save Hinchingbrooke Hospital from private management, to get fairer funding for Huntingdonshire s schools and to listen to the community, former teacher Jonathan Salt launched his campaign to become MP for Huntingdon, on Saturday
STANDING on a platform to save Hinchingbrooke Hospital from private management, to get fairer funding for Huntingdonshire's schools and to listen to the community, former teacher Jonathan Salt launched his campaign to become MP for Huntingdon, on Saturday in Huntingdon's Market Square.
Mr Salt, 45, a St Ives town councillor who helped save St Ives Corn Exchange for the town, is standing as the Independent Fair Deal, Community, Hospital, Schools candidate.
He is a director of St Ives Youth Theatre, a member of the Huntingdonshire Federation of Small Businesses, and owner of Ojemba Travel. He taught RE and German at St Ivo and St Peter's schools and is a former pupil of Hinchingbrooke. He lives in Huntingdon.
Mr Salt has been endorsed by Dr Richard Taylor MP, who first stood successfully in the 2002 general election as an independent in Wyre Forest to save Kidderminster Hospital, and broadcaster Martin Bell who won Tatton on an anti-sleaze ticket.
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Mr Salt said: "Hinchingbrooke Hospital, near my home, owes �38.9million not because of poor management but because it was committed to building a new clinical wing. The debt taken over was more than half the operating budget of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital Trust - impossible to recoup.
"A new chief executive was brought in. He and his team have done an excellent job of keeping the trust within budget, unlike many trusts around us. The debt is a red herring being put out to suggest that the management team is incompetent. "Over the past four years Hinchingbrooke staff have dealt valiantly with every Government target despite never receiving strategic health authority grants to do so and in the knowledge that any slip could close the hospital."
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He added: "I am suspicious of the motives of a private company aiming to take over running the hospital for seven years. They will be expected to repay the �40million debt, helped by the package of money the strategic health authority will make available to them. "I have never heard of a private company taking responsibility for someone else's debt. This will mean the winning company will need to raise its charges to GPs and the primary care trust for providing care. So we will all pay for that."
JOHN Clare, the Green Party candidate for Huntingdon, is 37 and lives with his wife and four-year-old son in Warboys.
He says: "I am opposed to anything that whiffs of privatisation concerning Hinchingbrooke Hospital. I have heard the arguments that it's not privatising the building or the staff but anyone who doesn't think this is the next step on the slippery slope is na�ve.
"The National Health Service came in after the Second World War and it is one of the principles that generation fought for."
Mr Clare is a media officer for The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds at Sandy and is also a singer in a popular punk rock band called Bomb Factory.
He has just returned this month from a successful gig in Brittany "singing to some enthusiastic French people, if that isn't a contradiction".
Originally a Londoner, who came to Cambridgeshire in the 1990s, he says the big issue is that Huntingdon has been taken for granted and that apart from the city of Cambridge "Cambridgeshire votes don't count" because the shire has been a Tory seat for centuries.
"Voters should be allowed a choice. To vote Green is to send politicians the message that you want something different. Don't be afraid to do it just because people in Huntingdon have been voting Tory for ever. "If you want change, vote Green as the Lib Dems have never even got close. The message is that we don't want the same old, same old.
"We should take a longer term view, we should be concerned with the world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren because it is their money we are spending.
"The environment is an issue that has become more and more important in my lifetime and now it is urgent."
If elected Mr Clare said he would put his "shoulder to the wheel for the people of Huntingdonshire".
"I would be one of a handful of Green MPs giving a positive message that the environment is more than about grass and trees. It's about where we live and go to school and our hospital and keeping our roads safe. It's about living safely and happily."
ANTHEA Cox, the Labour Party Parliamentary candidate for Huntingdon, launched her campaign on Saturday by setting out on the 20-mile Great Ouse Walk.
She started at the Priory Centre in St Neots, stopping for a break at The Old Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon and ended in Bridge Street, St Ives.
The mother of two, who lives in Peterborough and is a former Peterborough City councillor, has a job working to protect the rights of the disadvantaged and disabled.
She is a director of Learning Disability Coalition and also an associate of Frontline Consulting, which helps local authorities to communicate with the public.
Her manifesto includes some things which are already taking place such as preventing disability and racial discrimination and cancer patients being seen within two weeks of their referral to hospital by a GP.
Her list also includes: practical action on climate change, including long term reduction of carbon emissions, affordable homes in rural communities, a guaranteed job or training place for 18-24-year-olds out of work for six months or more and reducing the pay gap.
Mrs Cox, 44, whose sons are 12 and 16, said she first campaigned for Labour in Leeds aged six with her parents.
"It's really important that people are able to choose the policies that they want to see for the area. I want to offer that choice," she said.
"One of the things I'm committed to is that we must not end up with the NHS run down as it was pre-1997. We must get first-class services and investment - the only way we have been able to rebuild the NHS is working in partnership with private organisations.
"It's difficult but I'm comfortable with that because we will have a public service that has the necessary investment. I will be asking tough questions to make sure that the staff at the hospital are well supported."
Mrs Cox said that climate change was a subject that kept coming up when she spoke to constituents.
"We need to look at how we meet the challenges, and invest in greener and more sustainable energy. I will be delighted when the guided bus gets through its problems and gets started."
MARTIN Land, the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, launched his campaign to become Huntingdon's MP on Monday outside the job centre in Huntingdon.
Mr Land , who lives in Market Square, St Neots, teaches languages and works as a supply teacher for schools including Long Road Sixth Form College. He was first persuaded to join the Liberal Party in the 1970s by Peter Hain when they were both members of the anti-apartheid movement.
With irony, he said: "Peter Hain persuaded me to join the Liberals. I wonder what happened to him..."
Mr Hain resigned from the Cabinet as deputy leader of the Labour Party in 2008 after being accused of failing to declare donations to his campaign. Both men were students at London University.
Mr Land, 53, who has two sons, both pupils at Longsands College, has lived in St Neots for 10 years.
He is fiercely against the private management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital: "I don't believe the private sector should get involved in hospitals.
"They haven't shown us they can run bus services and the utilities so how can we believe they can run the health service, which on the whole is run quite well run, much better than First Capital Connect. Are we really happy with Stagecoach or Anglian Water - no, we're not."
Mr Land's other platform is infrastructure in the district.
"We are getting more and more houses and whether that is a good thing or not, whichever government comes in we are going to end up with it but where are the extra schools and the road networks?
"We don't have the infrastructure in St Neots for another 6,000 houses. In the past five years, we have lost our job centre, our register officer and the St Neots campus for Huntingdonshire Regional College, we need more jobs there not fewer."
Mr Land spent 16 years working in Brussels as the European group sales manager for the camera company Pentax and was also the managing director of an IT company in France.
He is currently working on a PhD looking at the change in how immigrants are portrayed in French television and film over the past 15 years.
This is his first time standing in a general election.
HUNTINGDON MP Jonathan Djanogly launched his election campaign to be returned to the seat with a pledge to do his best to stop the demise of rural post offices.
He said if Conservatives formed the next Government, local authorities would be given the power to help struggling shops stay in town centres.
Speaking at Conservative branch headquarters in Stukeley Road, Huntingdon, Mr Djanogly who is contesting his third term in Parliament, also pledged to ensure a fairer funding for schools in the area.
He said the closure of rural post offices was an emotive issue for communities.
Despite huge public opposition, Royal Mail closed 6,000 post offices around the country including Catworth, Earith, Great Gidding, Great Stukeley, Holme and Ramsey St Mary.
Mr Djanogly said: "We will encourage more post offices to open. We have a strong proposal to make the post office more efficient and provide more services."
He said shops in town centres were buckling under the burden of high rates.
"Conservative proposals would allow local government to have a say in which type of businesses should have rate reductions," he said. "So locally we can decide which type of shop we should have in our community."
Cambridgeshire schools would also get more money under the Tories, he pledged. "Even if the overall amount does not go up, we feel there should a fairer distribution of funds," he said.
One of the key issues affecting the constituency is the future of Hinchingbrooke Hospital. The hospital is set to be managed by a private company, a first for the NHS - since the abortive attempt by a private company to run Good Hope Hospital in Solihull, which ended early after two years in 2005.
The move will see one of three shortlisted private companies chosen to run the �92million turnover Hinchingbrooke hospital by October.
Mr Djanogly, 44, said his party supported free health care provision but was not opposed to the private sector "enabling that provision".
He said: "It's a franchising of the management of the hospital. The health staff or the assets will not be transferred."
Mr Djanogly was also confident that despite the expenses scandal that has rocked Parliament the turnout will be higher than in previous elections.
"The last year has been a sobering one," he said. "Mistakes were made over a long period of time. But a lot of changes have happened in terms of transparency since and which will continue into the next Parliament."
IAN Curtis is the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) candidate for Huntingdon who stepped in just three weeks ago after previous candidate, Jenny O'Dell, withdrew.
Mr Curtis, 57, lives in Little Whyte, Ramsey, and is a town councillor and chairman of Ramsey Management Board, which is currently seeking to set up leisure activities in Ramsey.
He is a grandfather, married with two grown up sons and as a young man served a five-year apprenticeship as a printer.
When he first moved to Ramsey 24 years ago and worked at ATT Papworth converting fire engineers and other vehicles for the police, fire service and companies such as BT.
He retired four years ago to look after his wife.
He says: "I believe in open politics. I don't agree, for example, with plans for Hinchingbrooke Hospital not being disclosed and with the cover-ups over MPs' expenses.
"I spent my life as an every day working man and I believe in honesty."
He added: "I think it's a good idea to privatise the management of Hinchingbrooke on the understanding that it will remain an NHS hospital. I think it will be more cost effective and not such a drain in the health service.
"My other focus is the police. I think there should be more police on the beat not just in cars. Apart from the cost of fuel, a policeman's presence is reassuring for the general public. They want to talk to a policeman if they have a problem."
He is also in favour of nuclear power as opposed to wind farms.
"We have to look at the next 25 years and wind power would not generate enough energy."
Mr Curtis, who is an independent councillor, said he joined UKIP after Ramsey's UKIP councillor Peter Reeve helped to stop anti-social behaviour affecting him and his neighbours by working with the police on Friday nights to stop under-age drinking.
"In three months, he managed to do what we and the police had failed to do in nearly 10 years. The nuisance hasn't stopped but it has decreased and given us a better quality of life."
LORD TOBY Jug is the Parliamentary candidate standing in Huntingdon for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, a party which now has an even longer title.
Bookmaker William Hill has sponsored the party and, without shame, has renamed it, the Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party.
The name may be new, but Lord Toby is fighting his fourth general election.
At the district council elections last year, he polled more votes (566) than both Labour candidates put together and put a bet on himself which won him �250 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
In 1992 and 1997 he stood in Newham, East London, against the late Labour minister for sport, Tony Banks, and in 2005 he stood against former Tory leader Michael Howard in Folkstone and Hythe.
Lord Toby, who has two sons, aged five and 12, has been given odds of 50,000-1 that one of his boys will be the first Loony prime minister.
He says if elected he will take only half of his �64,000 MP's salary, giving the rest to charity and the only expense he would claim would be for The Beano which he would have delivered.
Other policies include setting up three quangos: the MCC (the moat cleaning council) to ensure that all moat cleaning activity is performed in accordance with current EU standards.
The RDHDC (regional duck house development council) to ensure that all duck house architectural design is consistent with our heritage.
And the MWBDC (the mega wheelie bin development council) to prepare the way for "bi-annual" domestic refuse collection.
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party, founded in 1982 by the late Screaming Lord Sutch, was renamed by William Hill as part of a sponsorship deal which offers every candidate a free bet to win back their �500 deposit by betting on the number of votes they will poll.
INFORMATION: Under the rules set down by Lord Sutch any candidate getting elected must leave the party.
ANDREW Lansley CBE, who until Parliament dissolved was the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, launched his campaign in Cambourne to be returned as the MP for South Cambridgeshire.
Speaking at the event the Market Square on Saturday, April 10, he pledged "backing for our NHS" but said he would not overturn the Labour Government's plans to place Hinchingbrooke Hospital in the hands of private management.
He said: "I am proud to be once again standing as the Conservative candidate for South Cambridgeshire, this area is my home and I am passionate about improving our quality of life." Mr Lansley, 53, said he would support local decisions over local planning, campaign for the widening of the A14, support more affordable homes, value for money from taxes, stop Labour's job tax, support Britain's first eco-town and fight for faster broadband.
Mr Lansley has been the MP for South Cambridgeshire since 1997.
HELENE Davies Green, for UKIP, standing in South Cambs, says on her website that she believes in accountability.
"No one should be above the law, not even officers of Europol or judges in the European Court of Justice, as they now are. "Public money should be properly accounted for, and all political decisions should be public, unlike those of the European Commission. As an MP I would always be answerable to my constituents." Mrs Green is married with a son, two daughters, and three stepchildren, and lives in Bar Hill where she is known for picking up litter and lectures on mycology (fungi). Her website says that wind turbines are a waste of space in Cambridgeshire, Britain should stop paying the EU �45m a day and should take back control of British borders, and power should be back in Westminster.
SEBASTIAN Kindersley, Lib Dem, standing in South Cambs, is a district and county councillor for South Cambs.
He is the current leader of the opposition at South Cambs District Council, where he has been a member for 11 years.
He is 41 and runs an online business, Keyfacts, which advises financial institutions.
"I have reservations about the private management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital," he said. "The NHS was founded to give equal healthcare to the entire population. A private company will have to answer to its shareholders and this goes against the ethos of the NHS. If you have a different supplier, of course the service will be different." On the A14: "I don't believe any government is going to spend �1.4billion on a single road. "I'd rather see us work smarter with our money, sorting out the peculiar lay-bys and junctions and try limiting the lorries to one lane."
TARIQ Sadiq, Labour, standing in South Cambs is director of development at Downing College, Cambridge.
He is 40, married and expecting his first child.
He was elected on to Cambridgeshire County Council last year having previously been a Cambridge City councillor.
He is also a school governor who grew up in West Yorkshire, went to Durham University and worked in South London. He was previously a Lib Dem supporter but says he changed when he thought Labour had become electable. "The way I look at it is my parents came from Pakistan where this is not much democracy. "They came here and we had great opportunities, great education, freedom of speech and affluence that doesn't exist elsewhere. That is all worth fighting for."
SIMON Saggers, Green Party candidate in South Cambs, is an organic farmer who farms land in Bassingbourn which has been in his family since the 1600s. He and his wife Jacqui and their children live on a small holding called Guilden Gate in an eco-house which they built.
They are self-sufficient for food and sell their surplus in veggie boxes.
Mr Saggers, 41, was born and went to school in Bassingbourn. He went to Hills Road Sixth Form College then read geography at Manchester University where he was a Green president of the student union.
He then worked for a charity in London which advises other charities on trading before coming home to the farm when his father retired. NORTH WEST CAMBRIDGESHIRE SHAILESH Vara, the Conservative candidate for North West Cambridgeshire, has been the constituency MP for five years. A lawyer, Mr Vara, 49, is married to Beverley and has two young sons.
He launched his campaign in Sawtry and this election, following boundary changes, he has 17 more villages to canvass.
On the private management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital, he said:
"The important thing is that we have a hospital in the local community, not so long ago we were worried that we wouldn't have a hospital at all. Whatever the management, we have to ensure that vital services, including A&E and maternity are not affected. We have to accept that in the modern world some organisations are run by the private sector."
He added that development in the area had been "the wrong way round" - building houses without infrastructure, instead of providing jobs, roads, schools and utilities at the same time.
He said he would also continue to work to preserve the quality of country life.
ROBERT Brown, UKIP candidate for North West Cambridgeshire, is 55, single and has lived in Ramsey for seven years, having worked all over the world in catering and hotel management, including for Cunard on the QE2. He is currently unable to work suffering from a number of conditions including arthritis. He says his aim is to free Britain from Brussels and restore its legislature, borders and fishing rights.
STEPHEN Goldspink is standing for the English Democrats, a party which wants to see an English Parliament, similar to that for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mr Goldspink, 51, has two daughters and has lived in Peterborough for 30 years. He is a self-employed IT project manager for bodies such as the British Transport Police. A former Conservative, he says the party has lost touch with its grass roots and in Peterborough plans to waste money on schemes such as water buses and free wi fi.
"Big parties work on a marionette principle - they pull the strings and you put your hands up.
"I moved from the Conservatives to the English Democrats in October 2009, after becoming increasingly concerned with Conservative policies locally and nationally."
CHRIS York, Labour candidate for North West Cambs, lives in Peterborough, went to school in Oundle and traces his family back through several generations to Peterborough and Great Gidding. He is 48, married with three grown-up daughters and is a granddad.
Last month, he spoke against allowing nuclear waste at King's Cliffe (a landfill site near Peterborough, near the source of Huntingdon's water supply) at the planning meeting at Northamptonshire County Council, helping to persuade the council to refuse planning permission.
He has worked in the Peterborough community for the past 10 years, helping to improve life for young people.
"I believe that in equality, fairness and respect and I found that sadly lacking and I felt the only way to make a difference was to get involved."
DI Newman, Green Party candidate for North West Cambs, says on her website that she has a long-standing interest in health, the environment, animal protection and human rights.
She is 51, chairwoman of the Peterborough ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society, and lives in Peterborough.
"Local sustainability wasn't a buzzword in 1950s rural Berkshire where I grew up - it was the way we lived our lives," she says.
She wants to campaign against chemicals in food and the environment.
"My 'heroes' are the MP Michael Meacher and Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas, who have backed local sustainability.
"The globalisation of food production and foodstock are a nail in the coffin for local businesses, farmers, crop-growers, fisheries, bakeries and other local sustainable suppliers."
KEVIN Wilkins, Liberal Democrat candidate for North West Cambs, lives in Chesterton and is a Lib Dem councillor on Cambridgeshire County Council.
Mr Wilkins, 40, is a full-time election campaigner for the Lib Dems.
He says: "I am deeply sceptical of the private management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital. The way the Government runs NHS finances is rubbish and this is just giving up instead of trying more sensible ways of running them."
As a councillor he is proud of the improvements he has made to cycleways in Cambridge and feels strongly that education should not just to produce "economic fodder".
He added: "We are keen to understand residents' concerns, and address them effectively. We know that apparently small things - broken pavements, defective street lights, graffiti - can make a big difference to the quality of people's lives.