Labour Candidate, Steven Haynes, shares why he is standing in the Flexbury and Poughill Ward By-Election. Other candidates are most welcome to do the same.
My previous opinion articles for Bude and Beyond have been as Chair of Bude Labour Party, but this time I am writing as a prospective Town Council candidate for Flexbury & Poughill Ward. There has not been a proper Town Council election in Bude for far too long; most places on the council have been filled un-opposed, or as an appointment through a casual vacancy process. It is refreshing that Flexbury and Poughill Residents will, at last, get a chance to democratically vote from a choice of four different candidates.
I was previously a Town Councillor before coming to Bude, and I have now worked in the town for over six years. As the Labour Party candidate, I am making five key pledges that I feel will make life better in our area.
- Saving Stratton MIU Overnight Services.
Last December, we were shocked to learn of the sudden ‘temporary’ withdrawal of Stratton MIU’s overnight coverage due to issues that reflect the nationwide staffing crisis in the NHS and Cornwall NHS’ worrying agenda of restructuring that threatens to leave people in Bude, Stratton, and the surrounding communities, high and dry. ‘Temporary’ was originally meant to be until February, but the potential resumption of services has been pushed back again and again. Last week I travelled to Truro to attend a Health Scrutiny Meeting at Cornwall Council where Health managers, responding to my question, admitted that there was a danger that overnight services might not properly return until October 2020!
Local people have been told they do not make enough use of the overnight service, discouraged from using the MIU, encouraged to dial 111 or 999 or use a phone app to discover which is the best alternative hospital is available. They have been told that the closure is an ‘opportunity’.
We are further from an A&E hospital than anywhere else in England, and our population is growing as our services are reducing.
I helped found and organise the ‘Save Stratton MIU’ group, our demands are simple:
- Re-open Stratton MIU overnight services as a doctor-led 24/7 hospital.
- Upgrade Stratton Hospital to an Urgent Treatment Centre.
As a town councillor, I will continue to campaign for these key objectives and will work with other councillors to lobby the various NHS decision-makers, so that they know we do need our local hospital and are willing to fight for it.
- Protecting Bude’s Environment
We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but we are also living at a time of Climate Emergency. We are losing 200 species to extinction every day.
At the end of 2018, the UN Secretary-General warned us that humanity and life on Earth now face a ‘direct existential threat’, and that the world must act swiftly and robustly to keep global warming under 1.5°C and try to avoid utterly catastrophic impacts to life on Earth.
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth we plant in, the food we eat, and the beauty and diversity of nature that nourishes our psychological well-being, all are being poisoned.
Bude-Stratton Town Council’s positive approach to our local environment is welcome; their ‘Bude Green Five’ requirements in planning and engagement with local groups is heading in the right direction, but we need to do so much more.
Our Council needs to declare a Climate Emergency (echoing recent motions in Cornwall Council and other local authorities) and must seek to integrate requirements in every decision making process to combat the emergency, protect our local environment, and work towards making Bude a Zero Carbon town by 2030.
The Council also needs to proactively lobby for a solution to our ongoing problem of sewage in our ocean, and encourage rewilding in our local area to safeguard local biodiversity and play our part in taking carbon out of the air.
As a Town Councillor, I will work with our Council and our neighbouring Parish Councils towards a joined-up approach to these urgent priorities.
- Building Community Wealth
Community wealth building is a new Labour approach to local regeneration framed around co‑operative values of self-help, participation, social responsibility and democratic accountability.
Buying goods and services locally means local businesses, social enterprises and co-operatives can thrive and grow, resulting in money remaining in our local economy and new local employment opportunities.
Bude-Stratton Town Council should commit to promoting local economic growth and to use local small and medium-sized businesses as much as possible.
I will work with other town councillors to promote policies that build Bude’s community wealth.
- Listening to Local People
I will reintroduce weekly councillor surgeries in Flexbury and Poughill by bringing the surgeries to you. This will include an advertised regular Councillor ‘Walk Around’ of the ward, where I will come out and listen to residents’ concerns.
We need to break the mould of how our Town Council engages with all Bude-Stratton residents, and I will work to establish changes to how we structure meetings so that public panels become a regular part of council consultation and planning.
- Prioritising the Vulnerable
Bude is a beautiful place, and life here can be wonderful. There is a real sense of local community. But poverty can hide beneath this beautiful surface. Bude has a thriving foodbank.
29% of children in Cornwall live in poverty, and North Cornwall is one of the ten worst areas in the South West for Child Poverty.
The UK is in the middle of a housing crisis, but Bude Young People’s Foyer (purpose-built for homeless and vulnerable young people) remains closed.
Rents are rising faster than incomes, new affordable house building is at a 24-year low, and Bude is one of the most expensive areas in Cornwall to live.
Last December I wrote an article and campaigned about the threat of Bude Young People’s Foyer being turned into luxury flats, resulting in the Home Group (who have responsibility for this building) reaffirming their commitment to refurbish the Foyer and use it to house vulnerable young people. Unfortunately, the Foyer remains closed.
As Town Councillor, I will continue to lobby the Home Group to make good on their promise to refurbish the Foyer and house vulnerable people there, and I’ll continue to speak up for those in Bude who find it hardest to live here.