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Ask the candidates 2015: Graham Brady, Conservatives

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

Sir Graham Brady has represented Altrincham and Sale West since 1997

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 Conservative Party candidate Graham Brady.


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)

Graham Brady: The market has been transformed by Trafford under Conservative leadership. The Market House in particular is drawing more customers into the town centre which should benefit other businesses. Rents are usually a commercial decision for landlords but government can help small businesses with rates and other taxes.

In this Parliament we have introduced small business relief from employers’ national insurance contributions and extended business rate relief. I have been pressing for a more fundamental review of business rates and am pleased that the Chancellor has agreed to undertake this in the new Parliament.

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)

Graham Brady: MPs’ expenses should be managed exactly like anyone else’s. The system introduced in 2010 is completely independent and fully transparent. Given the amount of scrutiny (rightly) applied to MPs, transparency is the key to avoiding abuse.

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

Graham Brady: There is an important role for overseas aid and most people support it when it is properly spent and directed to helping people in real need. I do not think it is right to continue to guarantee increases in overseas aid at a time when the need to straighten out our own public finances means some really painful funding decisions at home.

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)

Graham Brady: I think it has been right to protect the state pension. It is by far the easiest way to ensure that all older people can live with a degree of dignity. Means-testing pensions would send all the wrong signals, discouraging people from saving to make provision for themselves. Wealthier pensioners are taxed and that is the best way of ensuring fairness.

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)

Graham Brady: Visiting food banks and helping out with the collections at supermarkets, I have been impressed by the generosity of so many people. It would obviously be better though, if this kind of help was not needed. The growth of food banks has come largely through three causes.

Firstly, more people are being directed to food banks for help when they are in temporary need. Secondly, some people find themselves in need because they have broken the rules for benefits claims and are subject to a ‘sanction’, people in need should be supported through the process of claiming, but ultimately there do need to be some rules. Thirdly, sometimes claims take much too long to process, this is plainly wrong and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

People on low incomes are being helped by a rising minimum wage and big rises in the tax threshold. For any improvements in the standard of living to be durable, the most important thing is to continue growing our economy, creating jobs and providing the conditions for more productive and profitable businesses.

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

Graham Brady: I wish I could, but these are decisions that were taken a long time ago. We should though, make sure that any development is as sympathetic and sustainable as possible. I hope it will include areas for wildlife and protected countryside. If HS2 comes to Manchester, we should also make sure that it goes to Manchester Airport itself rather than via Davenport Green.

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)

Graham Brady: The A56 is very congested some of the time but it is very difficult to see what acceptable route could be found for a bypass. I hope the improvements to the M6/M56 link will help to alleviate the problem. We also need to continue to invest in and expand the tram network.

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)

Graham Brady: All our local sports teams and clubs are able to apply for some grants and lottery funding and I have always been happy to support their bids. If re-elected, I will continue to do so.

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

Graham Brady: I believe everyone should have equal opportunities regardless of sex, gender or race. People should be judged on their merits: I think that makes me a feminist.

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

Graham Brady: Yes, we should ensure that we have a secure and plentiful supply of energy, we should prioritise better insulation – especially for vulnerable people and we should do everything possible to ensure proper competition amongst suppliers.

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)

Graham Brady: I spend a lot of time supporting local schools and I am aware of the challenges that we face. Pupil funding up to age sixteen has been protected but some costs have risen more and ‘over sixteen’ funding hasn’t had the same protection.

Trafford gets the best results in the country but has never been as well funded as some areas. I want the proposed move to a National Funding Formula to happen much more quickly. The formula would still adjust to help areas of deprivation or with large numbers of children with English as a second language, but putting us on a level playing field would help our schools to do even better.

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)

Graham Brady: This is really a question for the council. I meet lots of people who like the system and lots who don’t. All I can say is that Trafford’s recycling rates have improved dramatically so overall, it does seem to be working.

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

Graham Brady: It should be redeveloped either as business or residential premises. As our economy returns to growth and as we see improvements like the Interchange and our new hospital, the town centre is gradually becoming more attractive and marketable.

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

Graham Brady: I would rather have seen the money used on a big improvement of transport links across the country, through Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull. I think that would have brought better returns for less cost. If HS2 is to go ahead, it should go straight to Manchester Airport; it should follow the side of the M56 where there are no houses, not the Hale Barns side where people live, and it should not have a needless spur through the village of Warburton.

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

Graham Brady: I would say that voting really does matter. Looking around our area you can see the results of political campaigning locally and nationally bringing benefits to local people. The campaigns we have fought to keep the best schools in the country; the battle to save a hospital for Altrincham; the new Interchange; the new jobs and opportunities being created.

There are many things wrong with our democracy – I want to see Parliament having more power to hold Government to account, more independence, more free votes – but democracy does more to protect freedom and give you a voice than any other system. Politics is the same as any other part of life, you can stand by and complain or you can get involved and make a difference.

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

See the other candidates’ answers:

Nick Robertson-Brown of the Green Party
Labour Party candidate James Wright
Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy
Chris Frost (UKIP) did not respond to our requests to take part.