I’m humbled and honoured that local Labour Party members and councillors have asked me to stand as Labour’s candidate for Elmet and Rothwell in the 2015 general election and want to let you know that I’ve decided to stand for selection.
We don’t yet know what the timetable will be, but over the next few weeks I want to meet every single local party member to talk about how we win Elmet and Rothwell back for Labour.
As I live in Rothwell, in the constituency, and am a councillor here, I believe that I’m in the strongest position to beat the Conservatives. In fact because of council ward boundary changes I’ve actually been a councillor in three out of the five four council wards that make up the constituency as I used to represent Garforth, Swillington and Methley. I’ve also lived in both Methley and Swillington. This gives me a unique local knowledge and experience.
Elmet and Rothwell is a seat that Labour must win if we are to beat the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition. I know just how hard that fight will be and I’m more than up for the challenge. Since I won the first council seat back off the Liberal Democrats in 2011 we’ve won a second so there is only one left in the constituency. However, we still have a strong base of Conservative councillors that highlight the challenge that we’ve got.
I already use this blog and my Twitter account to take on the Liberal Democrats here in Rothwell and also to challenge Alec Shelbrooke MP our local Tory MP in Elmet and Rothwell. You’ll be seeing even more of that over the next few weeks as we can’t put fighting the Tories and Lib Dems on hold while we decide who Labour’s candidate will be.
I’ve also set up a Karen for Elmet and Rothwell Facebook page that initially I’ll mainly use to have conversations with Labour Party members so that I can build a strong campaign platform to beat Alec Shelbrooke.
I’ll be contacting the local Labour Party members who already know me (and that’s most of you!) shortly to arrange a good time to meet. But in the meantime don’t hesitate to get in touch with me by texting 07534 822479 or using the contact form.
UPDATE: Quick thanks to Alec Shelbrooke MP for pointing out the typo where it should have said five wards, not four!
UPDATE 2: Added photograph so that the post will display properly in the featured posts list.
At Rothwell Tenants and Residents meeting last night people were very angry and upset about the Tory/Liberal Democrat ‘bedroom tax’. People found it hard to understand why this was happening when there aren’t any properties coming up for people who will be hit to move into to ‘downsize’. Comments like ‘unfair’ and ‘ridiculous’ were made.
In Elmet and Rothwell constituency for every home that comes up there is a very long list of people applying for it. Many of these people are high priorities so are desperately in need of a home, but they are turned down as there are so many applications above them.
Stark choice between eating and heating or losing their home
Time and time again I have been contacted by people wanting to downsize often by people whose families have ‘left the nest’ and are living alone in a three bedroomed house but are simply unable to find a suitable smaller home. These are some of the people who are suddenly being hit with finding up to £22 a week extra just to stay in the home they’ve lived in for years. For many the stark choice is between eating and heating or losing their home.
Some of those worst hit by the bedroom tax include parents who are separated or divorced whose children only stay with them part of the time, soldiers on leave from Afghanistan or Iraq who want to stay with the parents, disabled people living in adapted or specially designed property.
The biggest problem for those wanting to move to a smaller home is that there just isn’t enough social housing for the demand in the Rothwell ward or indeed the rest of the Elmet and Rothwell constituency.
This Tory/Lib Dem ‘bedroom tax’ is designed to hurt some of the most vulnerable and deserving people in society. And the Tories claim they are no longer the ‘Nasty Party’!
The more I talk about HS2 to local people in Woodlesford the more angry I become. There is a legitimate debate to be had about the pros and cons of HS2. There is a legitimate debate to be had about the exact route it should take. There can be no debate about how the consultation and compensation process has been handled. It is a complete and utter disgrace.
It is more than two weeks since the government announced the proposed route for second phase of HS2 yet local people still haven’t been contacted by HS2 Ltd. Both HS2 Ltd and Tory secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin have shown utter contempt for local people that they can’t even be bothered to send letters to the homes that will be immediately affected. David Nagle and I have already written to every home in the immediate area so we can start to collate a list of peoples’ concerns that we will present to HS2 and the secretary of state.
Last Saturday the three Rothwell councillors and Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke met local residents from the Maltings and Locks estates at two open air meetings attended by more than 100 local people.
Local MP refuses to speak up on behalf of local people
I’m also dismayed that Alec Shelbrooke doesn’t want to stand up in the House of Commons and ask the prime minister David Cameron and Patrick McLoughlin to answer questions. Local people quite rightly expect more of their MP and it’s not good enough for Alec to glibly dismiss asking questions in Parliament as “just pontificating” as he did on Saturday when I challenged him about this. He’s happy enough to pontificate on taking benefits off working families that need them, but not on behalf of his constituents! As all three political parties support the principle of HS2 I really thought that all local politicians could work together on this.
Alec is the only one of us that can stand up in Parliament and ask those questions. He’s the one we elected to send to Westminster. My colleagues and I would certainly be asking those questions.
The consultation process is so feeble that neither HS2 or the Department of Transport have even bothered to contact local councillors so that we can properly help our constituents. Both residents and ourselves are forced to rely on an inadequate website and residents who’ve emailed HS2 haven’t even had a reply.
The responsibility for this incompetent shambles lies directly Patrick McLoughlin. He might claim the plans for consultation were drawn up under his predecessors Justine Greening and Philip Hammond, but that’s no excuse for not improving them. I’m calling on McLoughlin to start treating local people with some respect and consideration. It is unacceptable that neither HS2 nor his department have yet been in direct contact with local homeowners and local councillors.
The Tory/Lib Dem government has already demonstrated its incompetence in managing transport with the fiasco of the west coast rail franchise so McLoughlin needs to get a grip on his department. I’m calling on him to instigate an immediate review of the consultation and communication for HS2 and to implement a new plan that truly listens to local people and lets them know what is happening.
The route into Leeds through Woodlesford is one of the most important sections of the HS2 line so I’m writing to Patrick McLoughlin to ask him to visit us and see for himself how it is affecting local people.
I’m very excited to have been chosen by Labour Party members in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton to be their candidate in the May elections and helping to take Rothwell Labour Party into a new era. This is a very serious job for serious times.
These are tough times and there will be tougher times to come - at the top of my list of priorities will be fighting to protect local people against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government’s cuts. The most vulnerable in our community must be protected from the savage cuts which will be imposed on to Leeds City Council.I will do everything I can to protect local older people, those with disabilities, our young people and our children – in fact everyone who relies on our essential public services.
I am already fighting to protect our local environment where there are threats to our local area such as the Yorkcourt Properties planning application on Newmarket Lane towards Methley and potential development on Oulton Hall Estates land. Local residents can be assured that Rothwell Labour Party will always fight to protect the greenbelt.
I know from speaking to people locally that many feel that they have been ‘sold out’ by the Liberal Democrats as when they voted for them they weren’t voting for a Conservative government, but that’s what they’ve got along with the most savage cuts ever. Rothwell Labour Party understand how people feel and we are on your side!