Phil Wilson, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Sedgefield, shares his views on some of the important questions he’s heard on the doorstep during the election campaign so far.
What have you done for us?
Being a local man, brought up in Trimdon, my dad worked down Fishburn pit, I am passionate about this area. Since getting elected in 2007 I have sought to be a voice for the people of Sedgefield. My prime concern has been job creation and it always will be. My proudest achievement was to lead the campaign to bring Hitachi to South Durham, creating over 730 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain. I also worked towards bringing the University Technological College to Aycliffe Business Park so that our young people can learn the skills they need to get on in industry.
When I was first elected, Aycliffe town centre was in decline and had not been invested in for a number of years. But now we’ve seen demolition of some disused buildings and £2m refurbishment with the final phase of development under way leading to impressive changes over the last few years. My office continues to work with the town centre management and local community to ensure more retailers fill the shops. My office also helped and supported thousands of constituents with problems from changes to benefits to housing to consumer issues and everything in-between.
People want to know if Labour will form a coalition with the SNP?
There is no way that I would want to go into coalition with the Scottish National Party and I agree with Ed Milliband when he says it isn’t going to happen. The SNP sees itself as a ‘progressive’ force in British politics, but there is nothing progressive about wanting to break up the United Kingdom. The Tories keep saying Labour will enter into a coalition with the SNP as a scare story which is not based upon fact because they have nothing else to say.
What will Labour do about the bedroom tax?
One of the first things a Labour government will do is abolish the bedroom tax. It is affecting a lot of people, particularly those in my constituency where there is not enough one bedroom properties for them to move into and it is instead driving them further into poverty. Labour already has legislation ready to abolish the tax.
People are worried about the future of the NHS, what will Labour do to save it?
Through our ‘time to care fund’ raised through a mansion tax and tackling tax avoidance, we will invest in our NHS. We will recruit and train 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within a week. We’ll provide 25 hours free childcare and ensure smaller class sizes for 5 to 7-year-olds. None of our manifesto commitments require additional borrowing and we’ll balance the books and cut the deficit each year. Our NHS and public services need a Labour government to secure their future. Labour created the NHS and we will always defend a health service, free at the point of need.
What do you think about plans for the removal of street lighting on A167?
I have raised this with the county council and asked them to look again at their decision. I know the council is suffering severe cuts to its budget, but our priority must be the safety of pedestrians and road users. Turning off street lights is happening all over the country not just in this area and it is because of the extreme cuts made by the current government. We must find a way of keeping people safe, despite financial pressures.
What is happening about EON’s plans to build a huge Windfarm at the Isles?
I am opposed to EON’s plan to build 23 high wind turbines 100m+ at the Isles between Bradbury, Mordon and Chilton. This does not mean I am opposed to wind energy, but it does mean I am opposed to the cumulative impact of having so many windfarms in one area. County Durham continues to play its part in providing renewable energy, but I think we have our fair share of windfarms considering the windfarms at Red Gap Farm, Lambs Hill and Moorside Farm have been approved but are yet to be built.