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Ask the candidates 2015: Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrats

Earlier this month we asked for your questions to put to the candidates standing for election next week in Altrincham and Sale West.

Earlier this month we asked for your questions to put to the candidates standing for election next week in Altrincham and Sale West. We received well over 50 in total, and have pruned them down to a final selection of 15, chosen so as to provide the candidates with a broad mix of local and national issues.

Each day this week we’ll be publishing the answers to those question as given (in reverse order of the result of their party in the 2010 election) by Nick Robertson-Brown of the Green Party, Labour Party candidate James Wright, Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy and the incumbent MP, Graham Brady for the Conservatives.

Today, it’s the turn of Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy.


1. Altrincham market area is fabulous! However, the smaller shop units in town centre are unsustainable for small businesses due to ridiculous high rents and unfeasibly high business rates. What are your plans to change this? (Submitted by Tilly Wine)

Jane Brophy: I would address the high rents and business rates. Also all new start-ups should have a good business plan, and many of the units that have high rents are privately owned.

2. What is your view on the most appropriate way to manage MPs’ expenses, and should MPs be subject to more lenient guidelines than anyone else? (Tom Barton)

Jane Brophy: Guidelines for MPs should be the same as for anyone else.

3. Should we continue to give financial aid to countries that do not feed their people but have nuclear weapons? (Taxi Mike)

Jane Brophy: Overseas aid should be allocated to the most needy countries on a case by case basis.

4. Do you think the pensions’ budget, which absorbs considerably more of the Department of Work & Pensions’ budget than welfare, should be reduced? (James Harper)

Jane Brophy: Under a Lib Dems Government the whole Work and Pensions’ budget would be reviewed and allocated fairly to pensioners and to those who need welfare.

5. What do the you feel about the fact that since the last election we now have people in the constituency who have to resort to using food banks to feed themselves (and their families) and what will their party do to help those on low incomes, particularly children living in poverty? (Gwyneth Brock)

Jane Brophy: I feel strong empathy for people who have had to resort to local food banks. The Lib Dems have policies to address this. I would like to see a future government do more to help people out of poverty. The work of the Trussell Trust is highly commended, as are the local volunteers that are providing support to those in need.

6. Would you do anything to save the 360 acres of Davenport Green earmarked to be built upon? (Pete Hughes)

Jane Brophy: Yes in principle I would like to save the 360 acres of Davenport Green from development. We must monitor our decisions to ensure we protect our natural heritage and our local environment. In many areas of Trafford development activities are contributing to the loss of our green spaces. We must make sure we get the balance right.

7. Do you agree that there is a dire need for an A56 bypass, especially as yet another supermarket is to open in Broadheath? (Pete Hughes)

Jane Brophy: I would like to look into the details of the case for an A56 bypass. Anyone living near the A56 (as I do) will know the road is a nightmare. Dynamic and imaginative solutions need to be looked at to address this problem especially with yet another supermarket.

8. When will Altrincham FC finally stop playing second fiddle to the ice hockey teams who get council funding, whilst the true local sports team get none? (Jay Jackson)

Jane Brophy: I would like to see fairness in funding for all local sports teams.

9. Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? (Abi Richardson)

Jane Brophy: I think our political systems would be enhanced by having more elected people who better represent the population. I am a feminist in some ways.

10. Should consumers be protected from further energy price rises? (Sue Greenstreet)

Jane Brophy: Fuel poverty must be addressed. The Lib Dems have been pioneers in getting green policies passed and into reality for example by offering incentives to insulate homes. By becoming more self-sustaining, and using more renewable energy, such as solar, our energy bills should come done.

11. As a governor of a local school I can state categorically that schools funding HAS NOT been protected. Budget cuts and additional expenses regarding staffing amount to approximately 10 teachers’ salaries. How do you propose that our schools be protected in order that we can continue to deliver the excellent standards of education we are noted for in Trafford? (Sue Greenstreet)

Jane Brophy: The Lib Dems would raise budgets and offer more funding for schools and education. Lib Dems introduced the Pupil Premium that has massively helped our schools support our disadvantaged children. Our fully costed manifesto gives details of how we will increase funding for teachers’ salaries and increase funding for education.

12. Why are our green bins demanded every week? We recycle as much as we can and still don’t fill it week on week. That means a dirty great dumpster trawling the streets for nothing, and lots of families making extra trips to the ‘recycling centre’ (tip). How is that ‘green’ or even sensible? (Chris Hanley)

Jane Brophy: Since we started collecting food waste for safety and hygiene reasons the green bins have to be emptied every week. I would like to see the bin system reviewed again to get the balance of recycling right. We could do a lot more to be green and environmentally friendly and that includes avoiding extra trips to the tip. Making people think about what they throw in their bins must be the way forward. To keep rubbish to a minimum in the grey bin, that goes to landfill, we must address excess packaging and other non-recyclable waste.

13. What do you think should happen to the big eyesore that is the old McDonalds? (Adam Wilkinson)

Jane Brophy: It would be lovely to see a thriving community facility here.

14. Do you support HS2? If it was scrapped, what would you spend the £50bn on instead? (Richard Smith)

Jane Brophy: High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) has been approved to provide the UK with a sustainable transport policy well into the 21st century. HS2 increases capacity on an over-stretched and aging rail network bringing economic benefits to the regions making the UK economically competitive. High Speed Rail brings greener transport a step closer with studies showing that HS2 with the UK’s current energy mix will be carbon neutral.

As the new high speed network becomes a familiar part of our day to day transport choices its environmental benefits are likely to increase, with potential stops at London airports and regional airports such as Manchester removing the need to make needless regional flights. All major parties welcome HS2 for its environmental and economic benefits.

15. What would you say to encourage the 32% of local electorate who didn’t vote last time, to vote this time? (Jamie Murphy)

Jane Brophy: Please vote. In other parts of the world people are dying for the cause of democracy. Voting is a chance to have a say in how our local authorities and country should be run. It should be part of a wider process of engaging people in our political systems to make sure decisions made are accountable to the people who are impacted.

For more on the Liberal Democrats’ policies, view its 2015 manifesto here.

Tomorrow: Graham Brady, Conservatives