Election questions - a virtual doorstep

In relation to the county council elections, in which I am standing for the "Egremont North & St Bees" division which includes St Bees, Moor Row, Bigrigg, and a chunk of the Mirehouse area of Whitehaven, Jim posted four questions yesterday, which I promised to answer today, and I've had a few on the doorstep. So here is a "Virtual Doorstep" with my answers to these questions.

1. The closure of the public toilets in the area, would you cut other spending in order for them to be re opened or not?

This is a Copeland Borough Council responsibility rather than a Cumbria County council one, so I am not in a position to promise that if elected to Cumbria County council I would reverse or vote against the decision of the Labour majority on Copeland to close the toilets.

However, I do consider that this is a great deal more important than some of the things which Labour in Copeland is spending money and this would be third on my list (after Parking and Bin collection in that order) which I would like to see reversed, funded by the efficiency savings which Copeland refuses to consider. It says something about the different quality of administration of different councils in Cumbria, all of which are coping with the same different financial situatoion, that Eden can keep public toilets open in a small village like Threlkeld while Copeland can't in a town the size of Whitehaven.

2. The condition of the roads here in Copeland, (meadow road looks a lot like the dark side of the moon at the moment. Would you use more of our money to fix them?

This one is a Cumbria County Council responsibility and the condition of the roads needs to be improved. I would look to improve the standard of road maintenance by doing it in a more cost-effective way e.g. getting it right first time:  fix roads properly with one visit rather than putting in a series of temporary repairs which have to be done again after a few weeks, costing more in the long run. I'd like to see a higher proportion of the budget spent on maintaining our existing infrastrucure properly rather than putting in new schemes which we don't have the money to maintain.

3. Bin collections, would you aim to cut other spending in order to fund weekly bin collection?

Another Copeland one, but I would certainly support weekly bin collection, and what's more it would not cost local taxpayers much because central government offered to pay most of the tab for councils which go back to weekly collection. Sadly Copeland Council has a "not invented here" syndrome with almost everything the government proposes and turned it down.

4. Parking charges in Whitehaven, would you aim to help the town regenerate by reducing or better still eliminating parking charges?

Absolutely yes. Again, parking is mainly the reponsibility of Copeland Borough Council but in 2011 when I was a Copeland councillor I voted to amend the budget by reducing the Special Responsibilty Allowances paid to councillors and using the money to cut Car Parking charges, including a period of free parking. So although I can't promise to deliver this if elected to Cumbria County Council, it is on the record that I voted for it when I was on Copeland Borough Council.

What is your attitude to the Reponsitory proposals?

We already have hundreds of tons of nuclear by-products right here in West Cumbria and we need to work with the nuclear industry, all levels of government, and local communities to find a safe, appropriate long-term solution.

I supported the MRWS process as a means to establish the facts around where and when a suitable repository might be built. Any such proposal would have to be geologically sound and have majority support in the local community, proven through a district-wide referendum.


Jim said…
Thanks for your answers Chris, that answers that :)

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