MP Hopefuls go head-to-head for retirees’ votes at McCarthy and Stone hustings event

08 May 2015

Six parliamentary hopefuls bidding for the Southport constituency took part in a hustings today to win the votes of the town’s retirees.

Key Topics Discussed:

  • HOUSING
  • NHS
  • INDEPENDENCE FROM SEFTON

In the hot seat was Liberal Democrat candidate, John Pugh, Councillors Damien Moore of the Conservative Party, and Labour’s Liz Savage, UKIP contender Terry Durrance, Jacqueline Barlow from the Independent Southport Party, and Laurence Rankin of the Green Party.

Among the topics for discussion were pension reforms, the NHS, care for veterans, Sefton independence and the housing crisis, which was chaired by McCarthy and Stone Northern Regional Managing Director, Steve Secker.

Over 30 people attended the hustings, the majority of which were over 55 retirees from the local area, including McCarthy and Stone homeowners keen to have their say.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Speaking at the special pre-election event held at McCarthy and Stone’s Assisted Living development, Brunlees Court, the candidates all took to the floor to set out their policies. Jacqueline Barlow of the Independent Southport Party said her focus would be on challenging the status quo in Southport, and stopping Southport being used as a “cash cow for Sefton”.
John Pugh, Liberal Democrats, was keen to stress that more jobs were needed for young people in Southport, along with better services and transport links for older people. He called for “a more compassionate Southport”, especially in support of Dementia.
Laurence Rankin turned the focus more towards clearing the deficit and the support needed for local businesses in Southport, whereas Terry Durrance laid out UKIP’s plans to scrap HS2.

Labour’s Liz Savage took to the floor talking passionately about her Dad’s misdiagnosis with Dementia and how she was supportive of developments such as Brunlees Court where the hustings event was hosted. She took a firm stance that Labour would not ring-fence respite care but ensure that the best care provisions are in place with set care times so that pensioners are no longer ignored.

Damien Moore, Conservatives, talked about the future of Southport stating “the best days were ahead of them”, and said he was proud of the way his party had tackled immigration.  
 Moving to questions from the floor, a Mr Knight asked: “now people can withdraw their pensions, what happens if they just blow it?”

In response, John Pugh, Liberal Democrats said that while the policy was intended to provide early access to people’s pensions so they could use the money for things such as helping their children buy a home, there also needs to be an adequate state pension in the first place.
Terry Durrance, UKIP stated that the policy was not well thought out and that not everyone could be trusted to make sensible decisions with their money. In agreement, Laurence Rankin said that not enough advice is given to people on how to use their money wisely and that this needs to be addressed.

Jacqueline Barlow however was keen to dismiss this claiming “it’s just pure common sense”, something which was echoed by Labour’s Liz Savage in which she referred to the policy as “just a way to get more votes.” 

HOUSING

Talking on the subject of the ‘housing crisis’, Jacqueline Barlow said that more choice for housing was needed but that affordability was a massive issue in the area.

John Pugh continued by saying he was in “support of Assisted Living like that offered by McCarthy and Stone as it offers a viable solution” to such issues, but that a sense of community is important to ensure that older people are not isolated.

Liz Savage agreed with this claiming she was also in support of developments like McCarthy and Stone’s Brunlees Court, and that Labour would build 200,000 more homes by 2020.
Laurence Rankin summed up the discussions with his take on the topic, stating: “too many people think houses are investments, mine isn’t. It’s a home. I live in it.”

NHS

On the topic of the NHS, Liz Savage began by laying out Labour’s plans for a one point of contact only structure to take each patient through the system, and to clear the A&E back-log.
John Pugh however stressed that the NHS did not need a re-organization but needed to better integrate healthcare with social care and that this should be the main focus.

Damien Moore was clear in his position stating that the Tories would “ring-fence” NHS spending, although it was not about how much money is spent on the NHS, but rather what it’s spent on, calling for more money to go on cancer treatment in the UK.  

Terry Durrance closed the NHS debate with a witty remark stating the more money that’s spent on the NHS the more “it’s like pouring water into a colander.”

Laurence Rankin was insistent in his view that the NHS should say a free service for everyone as a point of principle.

INDEPENDENCE

The panel were quizzed on whether they thought Southport should be independent from Sefton.Jacqueline Barlow took the lead stating that “Southport had long been losing out with 14 years of asset stripping from Sefton.”

Terry Durrance concurred: “Most people who live in Southport want to be out of Sefton. There is no compatibility between the two areas. Southport is the golden goose and Bootle is happy to accept our council tax.”

John Pugh conveyed a more balanced view stating that a honest and clear debate was needed and that we needed to acknowledge the benefits of being in Merseyside but that there was not enough accountability from Sefton Council. This was echoed by Damien Moore who said that if the Conservatives were to get in there would be big changes in local government and that it’s “the people’s choice where they want to live.”

Liz Savage added to debate in the room by claiming that Southport had lots of European funding because of the deprivation of Bootle and it was not just one-way traffic as her fellow Councillors would suggest.

Steve Secker, Regional Managing Director for McCarthy and Stone Northern, who chaired the event comments: “The hustings was a great opportunity for the people of Southport to hear what their parliamentary candidates have to say, and to challenge them to be accountable to the views of local people.

“Having experienced great success in the Southport area since the launch of our Brunlees Court development in January, this event is exactly the kind of thing we want to do more of in future to engage and excite the Southport community. The event went down really well with our homeowners and many were able to meet and question the candidates personally, and to discuss the points that really matter to them. It will be interesting to see what happens on polling day!”

The special event at Brunlees Court also provided an opportunity for those interested in finding out more about life in a McCarthy and Stone Retirement Living development to take a tour of some of the new show apartments, and meet with the experienced Estates Team to learn about the flexible care packages available.

McCarthy & Stone’s Assisted Living developments aim to bridge the gap between conventional Retirement Living and residential care. Homeowners are able to retain independence in the form of home ownership, with their very own front door, yet still have the peace of mind of a range of additional 24/7 security and support services.

ENDS

For further information, please contact Corinna Henson at McCann PR on 0121 7133621 or email Corinna.Henson@mccann.com.