Voters will go to the polls tomorrow (Thursday) to decide who will represent their consituency in Parliament.
A high turnout is expected to vote in this general election, with Brexit, health and social care, education and national security prominent issues in candidates’ campaign trails.
Here, in alphabetical order, candidates standing in the Rutland and Melton constituency tell readers why they deserve their vote and what they will do for them.
** SIR ALAN DUNCAN – Conservative Party
I was first elected as Rutland and Melton’s MP in 1992, and live in the constituency with my civil partner, James, and Noodle our Cockapoo. After Oxford and Harvard universities, I spent 15 years in the oil business, gaining extensive experience in the Middle East. I have previously served as Minister for International Development and am currently Minister of State for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During the last 25 years in office I have gained considerable knowledge of local issues and experience in dealing with all levels of government to secure a better deal for constituents.
Nationally at this critical time, the country needs strong, stable leadership. It is simply not worth taking the risk of Jeremy Corbyn becoming our Prime Minister in charge of Brexit – supported by Lib Dem, Green and SNP votes. We will all pay with higher taxes, fewer jobs, more waste, more debt and a less secure future for our nation. We need to deliver a fair Brexit deal for Britain – and every vote will strengthen Theresa May’s hand in those negotiations.
The challenges of an ageing population mean that we need to look carefully at how we deliver social care to those vulnerable members of our society. The Conservatives are the only party prepared to face up to this problem, and we have put forward a proposal, which will be subject to proper scrutiny and consultation, that does not simply seek to raise taxes and increase pressure on our children and grandchildren. That is the sensible, fair thing to do.
As we develop future plans for our local health services in Rutland and the surrounding areas, I will continue to work with the NHS to address local concerns. We must get this right and preserve the hospital in Oakham.
I want the very best for our local towns and businesses – only a strong economy can support growth and sustain our public services. This will be based on sound public finances, low taxes, and better regulation, as well as through new free trade deals with markets around the world. Our manifesto promises to make education funding fairer for Leicestershire and Rutland, and our defence budget will continue to rise every year.
My priority will be to continue to defend the interests of constituents in Rutland and Melton and ensure views on important issues are heard.
** ALASTAIR MCQUILLAN – Green Party
Alastair McQuillan, 31, was born and raised in the constituency and works in Oakham. A graduate from Northumbria University he has previously worked in biological research in Latin America and Indonesia.
Alastair said: “As someone born here and who lives here I rely on the same shops, roads, schools and health services as the voters and will stand up to protect them.
“In this election I pledge to protect local services that we all rely on. I will stand up to savage Conservative cuts to our schools budgets, that could see teachers made redundant from every school in Rutland. I pledge to stand up for our NHS by protecting local hospital services in Oakham and Melton, to stand up for our environment by ensuring no fracking will take place in the Vale of Belvoir, stand up for animals by keeping the ban on fox hunting and stand up for our democracy and jobs by letting the British people have their say on the negotiated EU deal.
“It will be my mission to give the community more control over future housing developments. Drive through the requirements for better quality building, give the residents of Rutland and Melton a voice in the local political process and fight for quality local jobs.
“At the last general election, the Greens were the only party that stood against savage Tory cuts; who fought against the fracking of our landscape and opposed the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Many of our flagship policies from 2015 are now mainstream, proving once again that it is the Green Party that is setting the agenda on progressive politics.
“I look forward to engaging with other parties to challenge their views publicly and to maximise opportunities for widening a discussion about the future for us all.
“It’s time to do politics differently; it’s time to vote Green.”
** DR HEATHER PETO – Labour Party
Dr Heather Peto overcame a rare childhood illness and time rough sleeping to research neurological diseases with Nobel Prize winner Max Perutz, at the University of Cambridge.
As a child, Dr Peto suffered from Kleine Levin Syndrome (KLS), a neurological disease that leaves children and adults sleeping almost continually for months, and confused when awake. The illness has a huge impact on patients’ lives, and many periods of Heather’s life she cannot remember. During one period when ill she was homeless in London. Being unable to look after herself and too confused and sleepy to get help she ended up sleeping rough.
“Fortunately, my illness means I cannot remember much of it, only horrible flashbacks. I remember being cold and damp, having my sleeping bag stolen, being beaten up and sexually assaulted. I was ill and the cold, damp and hunger was making me worse. This happens to so many rough sleepers. You think there is a safety net to stop destitution but there isn’t if you are too ill to get help. These setbacks have given me tremendous drive to make something of my life and put back into the community.” Dr Peto said.
“Labour’s policies are all about socially insuring people in need. If you get dementia in old age or MS or other neurological diseases when you’re younger, the Tories will sell your home to pay for your care. Labour will make social care part of the NHS, free to all when needed.
“The Tories are stealthily privatising the NHS. The recent sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) aimed to move patients out of hospital to being treated at home. Now the Tories say you will have to pay for this if your house is worth more than £100,000. Many families have saved to leave an inheritance to their children to help them on the housing ladder or to pay off their mortgage, but that is all gone if the Tories win.”
In addition to guarantee a limit on care costs, Labour are also committed to reversing the STP closure of overnight beds at Rutland Memorial Hospital and St Mary’s Birth Centre.
Labour’s investment in infrastructure will include the Melton Mowbrary bypass and housing development.
We want to dedicate bridges and junctions on the bypass in remembrance of fallen and injured soldiers from Melton, such as Marcin Wojtak.
Further infrastructure investment will include complete 4G coverage for Rutland.
** ED REYNOLDS – Liberal Democrat
Edward Reynolds, who is 40, is truly a local candidate; his family were tenant farmers in Cold Overton for 50 years, he grew up in the constituency and now lives in Oakham with his wife Robyn and 18-month-old daughter Tilly. Ed works for a local company in the renewable energy sector.
Speaking at his campaign launch at Oakham Castle, Edward said: “I am incredibly proud to stand for parliament in my home constituency. I understand the local issues that are important to us all; I know how important it is that we keep our local NHS services open, we must make sure that our schools receive the funding they need and that we improve our rural transport links. I will fight for more affordable housing in our constituency and I will make sure that house builders are forced to deliver on the infrastructure and amenities they promise.
“Both Melton BC and Rutland CC have been dominated by the Tories for far too long. They seem to be able to make decisions without scrutiny and without listening to the people they are meant to represent. If elected, I will give a voice to ordinary people on local and national issues.
“On a national level, every government needs to be held to account and only the Liberal Democrats can do that effectively. I believe that we must avoid the economic shock of a hard Brexit which will be brought about by the arrogance of Theresa May. Instead we must negotiate a settlement to get the best deal for our local businesses, local farmers, and everyone’s future.
“I believe that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn would be a disaster for our country and god help us if the Tories get a large majority; they plan to scrap the triple-lock pension, end free school meals and strip your assets to pay for social care.
“People are disengaged from politics and trust in politicians is at an all-time low. The public are fed up with part-time MPs who earn fortunes from directorships. I believe I can reconnect voters to the political process and start rebuilding trust in politicians. If elected I would be a local MP who would always put my constituents first. After 150 years of Tory MPs in our constituency and 25 years of Alan Duncan, it’s time for change!”
** JOHN SCUTTER – UKIP
I have lived and worked in Melton Mowbray for over 20 years and am a life-time member of the Melton Rugby Club.
UKIP has set six tests to show that Brexit truly means Exit. I fully support them. They are:
The Legal Test: Parliament must resume its supremacy of law-making with no restriction on its future actions. Britain must wholly remove itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.
The Migration Test: Britain must resume full control of its immigration and asylum policies and border controls. We must not be bound by any freedom of movement obligation.
The Maritime Test: The UK must resume complete control of its maritime exclusive economic zone – stretching 200 miles off the coast or to the half way point between the UK and neighbouring countries. We must ensure that no constraint other than its own physical capacity or the needs of stock preservation as decided upon by the UK parliament applies to our fleet.
The Trade Test: The UK must retake its seat on the World Trade Organisation and its right to sign its own trade agreements with other countries. The UK must have full legal rights to set its own tariff and non-tariff barriers consistent with WTO rules. This means leaving the single market and the customs union. Continued tariff-free trade may be offered to the EU, but if the EU declines the offer then WTO terms are the acceptable fall-back position. Post departure, both sides will have the ability to further liberalise trade.
The Money Test: There must be no final settlement payment to the EU and no ongoing payments to the EU budget. We must reclaim our share of financial assets from entities, eg. the European Investment Bank.
The Time Test: Given that the referendum was held in June 2016, it is clearly reasonable to expect the Brexit process to be completed well before the end of 2019. To leave loose ends left untied or open ended transition still in progress would risk plunging the country into a new era of uncertainty and emboldening those who wish to overturn the referendum result.
I am the only true conviction Brexit candidate, working here for you in Rutland and Melton. Please VOTE John Scutter.
* We will be covering the general election count and results in the early hours of Friday morning. The results and reaction will be published on our website as they are announced.