This post is the latest instalment in my by-election series where I will interview the candidates standing in Chesham and Amersham this month.
Today, I am feature Carolyne Culver, the Green Party’s candidate in the by-election on 17 June. With issues like HS2 at the forefront of the election, Carolyne is hoping a victory will send a strong message to the government and help stop HS2.
Here’s what she had to say…
Any views expressed in this post are not my own, but those of the interviewees.
- Social mobility
- Affordable housing
- Green New Deal
- Universal Basic Income
- Electoral reform
The Chiltern district is seen as a desirable place to live and is a very affluent area – for the most part.
However, poor social mobility continues to be a very real issue for many people who are born poor in Chesham & Amersham.
“At a basic level we need to make massive investments in improving state education, in supporting the vulnerable within our communities, and create well-paid, secure green jobs in the economy of the future,” Carolyne said.
The Green Party wants the minimum wage to be at least £12 per hour. This would apply to all workers, including apprentices and under 18s.
“If you’re doing the same day’s work you should get paid the same money. How else do you expect young people to be able to save for the future like previous generations did?” She questioned.
Sian Berry, the party leader and London mayoral candidate, pledged to scrap Transport for London’s fare zones in favour of a flat-rate fare across London – including the Metropolitan line in Chesham and Amersham.
Carolyne believes this would make a “massive difference to young people who need to work in London”.
More generally, the Green Party seeks to make society more equal, so that social mobility becomes a redundant concept.
“Affordable, secure and comfortable accommodation is a basic human right.”
The Green Party is concerned about the government’s planning reforms. They believe the reforms serve the interests of developers, not communities.
Instead, Carolyne wants to give local communities a greater say in local housing policies and to ensure that new houses meet locals’ needs.
“We need to regulate landlords and introduce rent controls, ensure a wide mix of tenures and house sizes are available, including social and co-operative housing. New-builds must be well-insulated and built to the highest standards, and we need to retrofit older houses to improve efficiency and reduce fuel poverty.”
Carolyne also mentioned the Help to Buy scheme. She believes it only increases prices.
“With proper regulated housing, it would not be needed.”
Green New Deal
In the wake of Covid-19, Carolyne stressed that we cannot go back to business as usual.
The Green Party wants there to be a Green New Deal.
She wants to create sustainable and well-paid green jobs. These would include retrofitting homes to make them warmer and more efficient, revolutionising transport and rolling out renewable energy.
“All of these plans would create thousands of jobs – and benefit every community. We would prioritise real training and skill development to equip people for new, life-long careers,” she explained.
Universal Basic Income
Universal Basic Income (UBI) has long been a Green Party policy. The idea of UBI is that everyone gets an income to cover their basic needs. This can then be topped up with what you earn from your job.
Carolyne argued that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown there’s money available to support “millions” of people’s basic needs.
“It is only a relatively small step from the furlough scheme to a universal basic income.
“We know that this will be particularly beneficial for young people and women, not just by putting money directly into people’s hands but by ending child poverty, and making it easier to leave abusive relationships,” she added.
Describing HS2 as the “single biggest issue” in the constituency, Carolyn reiterated her – and her party’s – opposition to HS2.
“The results of this election will not alter the balance of power in Westminster, but if I’m elected it will send a powerful message to the government that people here do not want HS2 and are not prepared to stand by while the water supply is threatened and countryside is torn apart for a project that will bring no local benefits,” Carolyne added.
She has long been an anti-HS2 campaigner. Regardless of the election results she will keep supporting local campaigners, she said.
Fundamentally, we need electoral reform so that authorities and government can be held to account. We can’t allow them to assume that constituencies such as Chesham and Amersham will simply keep returning the same Conservative MPs to power, Carolyne stressed.
Concluding, Carolyne acknowledged “it’s easy to feel disheartened and un-represented by our current political system, but things are changing.
“I would urge young voters to use the voice that they have in casting their vote.”
Are there any questions you’d like me to put to the candidates in the Chesham and Amersham by-election when I speak with them? What issues most concern you right now?
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