Di Martin, the Prospective Labour Parliamentary Candidate for The Forest reacts to Mark Harper’s Column in The Forester…

Mark Harper says that a ‘lot has been achieved since 2010 to help with the cost if living’.
But in our constituency, women are feeling the pinch having lost £63 a week in real terms since the crash of 2008. The South West TUC analysed figures from the Office of National Statistics to calculate a 21% fall in average pay. Men in the Forest have lost £41 a week – a 8% cut in real term. In the constituency, 1 in 4 people are judged financially stretched.
In the constituency, many women of my age have lost years of state pension as the pension age was increased to 66 years, and now men by another year.

Mark Harper seeks to sell us the Tory track record yet he fails to acknowledge its impact on us, his constituency!

Mark Harper praises the Tory’s ‘balanced approach the the economy’.
I say the pound is down, growth is falling, productivity is falling. The economy has stagnated. In the constituency, we see young people having to leave in search of education and a career, an increase in zero hour contracts and part time work. Many of the 1 in 4 people who are financially stretched are households where people are in paid work.

As Mark Harper praises the national economy, he does not speak of our local economy.

Mark Harper applauds cash for the NHS and I welcome any cash injection but in the Forest funding has not kept pace with need. In the constituency, people talk of waiting longer for appointments, travelling further as services drift to a cities, medicines being disputed because of price. I know the biggest challenges to our health service has been the £8b slashed from social services that left 1.4m left with out care support!

In this constituency, cuts in care meant the loss of 38 residential beds with the closure of Townsend House in Mitcheldean and there will be more to come.

Mark Harper, please release evidence that you have lobbied for funding for health and social care in this constituency.

Mark Harper says funding for primary and secondary schools will increase. The Data seems to show that per pupil spending on schools will be lower in real terms in 20/23 than it was in 09/10!

In the constituency, per pupil funding has fallen. In the 4 years to 2019, funding in Newent has lost per pupil funding of £169, Wyedean – £239, Dene Magna – £381 and Forest High – £416.

I say these cuts have undermined and in some cases destroyed the opportunities available to our children and young people.

Two things are clear. The Tories have a short term strategy to buy votes with some inadequate investment. Mark Harper has prioritised telling us how well the ‘strong and stable’ Tory government and policies have done. He has not prioritised representing our lived experience, the needs of the Forest and its communities.

Do not be sold a pig in a poke.

We face daunting challenges. Labour will invest in public services delivered by public servants not driven by private profit. Our proposals on investment in the economy are designed for the economy of the future when automation will mean job loss and every development will be assessed against the challenge of reducing carbon emissions. We propose new models of investment in joint ventures, where public investment seeds new markets in wind and medicines to name but two from conference, and delivers social benefit and profit to the many of us not private profit for the few.

I will continue to invest in our Constituency. My life, my family and my heart is here.
I will always speak for us.


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