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CLAREMONT BY-ELECTION, CANDIDATE Q&A 2017
We asked the candidates standing in the Claremont By-election some serious questions, about some serious issues? Who do you think responded best?

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With the upcoming Claremont By-election just a few weeks away (Thursday 5th October 2017) we thought we would ask the candidates to get involved in a little questionnaire we put together.

The aim being to help those they are seeking votes from to get a better understanding of each candidates views on a number of both local and City wide issues.

Before going any further though I wish to take a few moments to reflect on the reason for this By-election, the sad death of one of Salford's finest Councillors, a man who was held in high esteem by not only his colleagues, his local community and the whole of Salford but also myself who gave him nothing but the highest praise. His death came as a blow to Claremont and local politics alike and I am sure that all candidates involved in this article would agree that whom ever wins, they have huge shoes to fill.

I am talking about no other but Councillor Joe Murphy, a true, proud and honorable Salfordian in every sense of the word. 

A week or so back we contacted ALL candidates standing in the Claremont By-election, it took a while to get all of the responses in but I am happy to say that apart from just one, they all responded.

Sadly for whatever reason, we were unable to gain a reply from the Green Party and their candidate Daniel Towers, there could be many valid reasons for him not responding so I ask that people do not read anything into that as he was under no obligation to take part.

We did make several attempts to make contact but unfortunately it was not to be and so unfortunately we can not bring you his answers. However the door is always open and should it be decided differently then I would be more than happy to include them and update this article.

 

To that effect I have added his name above to show that he is a candidate but I have left his photo blank and where applicable I will simply place the words 'No Reply' in place of any answers.

So as to be fair and not show preference to any candidate in the order of their replies I will try to randomise replies the best I can....  and so without further ado let us begin..

The first question candidates were asked was simply..

What issue do you identify as the most important Claremont Community faces and why?

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

People want to live where they feel happy and safe. Whilst bins, litter, drains and anti-social behaviour may seem like small issues, combined they can impact upon how residents feel about living in a community.

If I was lucky enough to be elected as the representative for Claremont, I would fight daily to improve our area wherever possible, working with all members of the community to make Claremont an even better place to live. 

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

Claremont feels to me like a neighbourhood that has been abandoned by those in power, as it doesn't tick any of the boxes.

It is relatively affluent, but doesn't have the wealth or influence of other areas. It has its share of crime and poverty, but can't compete with inner city wards, so just gets forgotten.

Over recent years, its Youth Club has closed and the premises boarded up. The Children's Centre at Summerville has been moved to Swinton.

The nearest leisure facilities are in Langworthy , Swinton or Eccles. There is no community centre no decent restaurant although the local churches are doing what they can.

The shopping parade along Bolton Rd is a shadow of its former self and looks sad and neglected. The streets and alleyways are strewn with litter and piles of rubbish, which no one has the heart to deal with.

The ward itself is cut in half by the East Lancs leaving the area around the old hospital isolated from the rest of Claremont.

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

This depends on which part of Claremont you live in, off Lancaster Road there is the problem of on street parking from the Hospital, and the Duncan Mathieson plating fields, Claremont Road, there is the problem of traffic using this residential road as a cut through and driving dangerously.

Around the park people want to do more to get more use out of the park for local residents and to improve the facilities there. Around the college there is the problem of buses clogging up the streets morning and evening picking up and dropping off students.

Then there are the problems of fly tripping around the back streets off Bolton Rd. The increase in properties to let, which uncontrolled, can lead to a transient community and a less than positive community spirit. There is the continuing problem of street litter; although FOLP organise fortnightly litter picks in the park. ASB continues to be a challenge, often in parks.

A major problem for families with young children is the Governments current plans for schools funding, which will see another cut of up to £500,000 between the 3 primary schools in Claremont which equates to a loss of 7 teachers.

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

I think the best people to answer that question are the residents themselves. A private company in June of this year did a questionnaire in Claremont. These are the answers given by residents in the ward.

Drugs and alcohol.  This came up frequently

Community Sprit 58% of people they spoke to said there wasn't a good sense of community in Claremont

local environment.  Rubbish,litter,fit topping and dog fouling was highlighted

Employment and training.  46% said there were not enough jobs in the area.opportunities were limited.Better information about support that is available. More job clubs were needed.

Crime and safety.   crime and anti social behavior in the area.especially fighting and noise nuisance.

Health and well-being.  54%  of people taking part they would like to see more affordable activities taking place in Claremont to help keep them healthy and improve their well being.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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The second question asked was 

How do you propose to tackle it?

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

These are just an example of the important issues the community face, some are much more problematic than others, especially where Government have made it easy for developers to virtually build where they want, It is vital to talk with the residents most affected and help them to organise themselves into groups to collectively resolve the problems, with the support of councillors.

This, after all, is how the CCA was formed in 1984 and more recently, FOLP. Light Oaks Park I intend to work with the friends to identify national funding streams to assist with the development, Buses around the college, there needs to be a dialogue with the college to come up with a planned route which does not inconvenience local residents but also does not put the students at risk.

On Claremont Rd we could investigate reducing the spend limit to 20 mph and introducing cameras also could look at access only solutions.

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

Somehow we need to bring the community together and give it back its heart. To this end I have been trying to get a range of initiatives underway.

I have enlisted the support of the Mayor and the local MP in getting the former Youth Club premises restored as a Community Centre. I have been working with Aldi, local retailers and the private owners of the land between the shops and Bolton Rd.

To improve the shopping area by more planting, the provision of seats for the elderly and a community noticeboard in store.

I have gained the agreement of Salford College to open up the facilities at Pendleton Sixth Form College for the community and have set up the Claremont Art Circle which runs each Thursday evening.

I am working with Environmental services to provide regular reports on fly tipping and abandoned rubbish which is then removed.

I am in the process of encouraging groups of local residents to get together to clear the gated alleyways behind their houses to provide safe spaces for children to play.

I have joined the Friends of LightOaks Park helping them with their events and maintenance of the park

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

Drugs drink and crime and safety.

I would first look at the last 12 months crime and anti social behavior record for the ward.Find the hotspots and have meetings with our community police officers. I must say I haven't seen a visible police presence within the ward for a very long time. we have to work with the resources we have available.

Community Sprit within the ward. I know we have a very active Friends of light oaks Park. this is good for our younger members of the community.But there is not a great deal going on for our older residents.If there is,it is very poorly advertised. I would go into our residential homes and church groups to find out what they would like. We no longer have a youth club in Claremont, which I only found out in the last few weeks. We have had an active youth club all my adult life.That would  be very high on my "To do list"

Well I think we all know my options on our environmental department. Think a sit-down with officers and talk about common sense.

The issues with training I will hold my hands up, I don't know what if any is available in the ward. I am sure it is out there,just needs advertising in Doctors,the library, churches and schools.

Health and well-being.  I do know we have a health improvement team, but again I would have to look at how it is taken out to the community and sold to the residents. it's ok taking it to Community committees, but you find it's the same people who attend.

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

In order to identify and tackle the issues facing residents, I pledge to hold frequent surgeries in the ward, canvass residents all year round - not just during election time, establish a frequent community newsletter to provide residents with an update on what I’ve been doing on their behalf and ensure I am easily contactable should residents wish to raise concern.

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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In order to find out a little insight into how the independents view themselves against their competition we asked..

What sets you apart from your fellow candidates?

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

For a start I live in the ward,and have done all my life.The other candidates are not residents. I have been the ward Councillor  for 4 years. Before that I was Chair of the local community association and I have continued since my time in office. I am well known in the area.The problems that effect the ward also impact on myself and my family.

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

While I have lived in Salford for over 40 years, I live outside the ward, as do all the other candidates except Mary. I have, therefore, tried hard to get to understand Claremont and the issues faced by its residents. To that end I have joined a number of local groups and now use the library, local shops and services.

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

I believe that I will bring fresh new ideas to the Council. Being a councillor is not something a 23 year old person usually aspires to, but I am passionate about our area and would like to give young people more of a voice in our democratic process.

As well as being a representative for the residents of Claremont, I would use my role to speak about issues facing the young people of today, including increasing house prices, the cost of living and employment opportunities.

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

It’s not about me but what the team can do working together in Claremont for the good of the residents to help improve their lives.

In my previous job as a community outreach worker in Langworthy I involved local residents and other agencies to engage in different projects in the area so that residents were providing the answers and solutions and taking ownership of mthe task such as Seedley and Langworthy In Bloom.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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To gain some insight into each candidates backgound and experience in politics we asked them all...

What experience in local government do you have? Please be specific.

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

School Governor for the past 26 years at Sommerville, Langworthy Rd and now Walkden High.

Member of the Seedley and Langworthy Partnership Board 2001 – 2007.

Board member of Seedley and Langworthy Trust since 2001.

Worked with various council groups during 2001 – 2004 during regeneration of Seedley and Langworthy.

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

I was a ward Councillor from 2006 to 2010. I sat on the Planning committee, licensing committee.

I attended full Council and have a track record for being outspoken and not frightened to ask questions and challenge decisions.

I have been i involved in campaigns over the years. Helped save the Height cottages.

Campaigned to keep funding for the Salford Women's center. which is going from strength to strength.

Questioned the proposed Hotel in buile hill park. to name a few..

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

I stood for election to the Claremont ward earlier in the year, during the first by-election in the ward.

Sadly, I was not lucky enough to be elected but I have chosen to stand again as I would love the opportunity to represent Claremont and local people.

Whilst I have not previously been elected to local government, I take an interest in what happens at Salford City Council, as well as in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, including on big issues such as the GMSF.

I also volunteered on the Conservatives' campaign during the Mayoral election earlier in the year. It was great fun and it added to my knowledge of how the tiers of local Government intertwine. 

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

Trained as a child psychologist, I worked as a local government officer across the North West for over 20 years, including 4 years in Salford.

I have also worked as a volunteer with Salford Citizens Advice and at the Lowry since it opened.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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Question 5 was split into several parts in order to gain an insight into the views each candidate held on a number of local Claremont and Salford wide issues.

What are your opinions on the following issues

a. Homelessness within Salford 

b. Local development plans for the area

c. Anti Social behaviour in Claremont

d. Child poverty in the community and wider area.

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

a. Homelessness is an issue close to my heart - everyone deserves a home to call their own. Unfortunately, homelessness isn't a straightforward issue with straightforward answers. Instead, it needs a joined up approach, including with our health and social care providers, to ensure that those without a home receive thorough and appropriate help. I support the devolution of powers in relation to health and social care so the Greater Manchester can establish its own policies to best suit our residents, something I believe will aid in helping to tackle the homelessness issue current facing the region. 

b. Salford needs new affordable homes but they need to be the right homes in the right locations, with the right local infrastructure needed to support those homes – especially transport, schools and health services. If elected, I’ll work with local residents to ensure that the new local plan delivers the new housing our young people need and respects the views of existing residents in Claremont and across the City.

c. Nobody should feel unsafe in their own home and anti-social behaviour is completely unacceptable. If I was elected to represent Claremont, I would seek to build strong relationships with the local police / PCSOs and the relevant officers at the Council in order to communicate with these individuals on behalf of residents. 

d. As in the case of homelessness, child poverty is not usually a two dimensional issue. Instead, tackling the issue of child poverty is best achieved with the collaboration of a number of council, community and Government funded services. If elected, I would seek to engage with the community and local schools in the first instance to see how best I could help to tackle the issue of child poverty. The best way to prevent child poverty is to ensure that families are able to work, so it is great news that more Salford residents are in employment than ever before.

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

a. Homelessness is a growing problem across Greater Manchester, linked closely to problems of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse. If we are to tackle the issue, resources must be increased to deal with the underlying problems. In this area Salford is one of the better authorities in the North West, but could always do more.

b. In response to the question on the local development plan, I dug it out and was amused to find among its priorities for 2020 the following: The development of green neighbourhoods including a 20 mph speed limit on Claremont Rd. In cooperation with businesses on Bolton Rd. to improve the appearance and range of shops. To bring the Duncan Mathieson Playing Field back into use as a sports field Wouldn't it be nice if the recommendations in the plan were actually carried out!

c. Crime figures reported by the police at the Claremont and Weaste Neighbourhood meetings show that Antisocial behaviour is only a minor problem in Claremont. However with lack of local facilities, benefit cuts and limited job opportunities things could get worse.

d. In a time of massive funding cuts, Salford Council clearly needs to rethink its financial strategy to focus on those in most need and less on helping developers and Sports Clubs. It also needs to reevaluate its reliance on PFI funding which leaves a legacy of debt in its wake. But while it conducts its decision making in a climate of secrecy, it will be very difficult to question its actions.

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

a. I fully support the Mayor’s Homelessness programme to eradicate this terrible situation for homeless people in the City, building new social housing and affordable homes in the city to replace the 100s of council houses that were sold under the Tory “right to buy” scheme which meant people could buy their homes but the council could not replace it, leading to the situation we see today with record number of families now homeless. As a non-paid director of the Seedley and Langworthy Trust, we used a Government grant in 2015 to purchase 5 houses in Salford which had been empty for other 6 months. These were then renovated and brought back into use providing homes for 5 families paying not market rents but social rents making them affordable.

b. Local development plans for the area The Duncan Mathieson playing fields, off Lancaster Road, are owned by a charity, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Manchester. The playing fields have been proposed for continued recreation land in the Council's draft Local Plan. The plan says there is a shortage of playing pitches in the area and better use should be made of the Duncan Mathieson playing fields. ,Consultation on the Local Plan proposals has just finished. One of the responses to consultation was from the charity and Barratt Homes. They suggested that the land should be developed for housing along with the neighbouring Lancaster Road school playing fields which are owned by the Council.

Ward councillors have strongly objected to the Barratt Homes plan and a public meeting to seek residents views attracted some 300 people. Sport England is monitoring this issue.
We understand that the charity needs to raise money but we cannot afford to lose playing pitches in this part of the city. There are no plans to sell the Lancaster Road playing fields which the council own, and no one has  submitted evidence which challenges our view that there is a shortage of playing fields.

We do need to work with partners to see how best we can make the playing fields usable.
Support for friends of parks groups. For example, the use and development of the unused summer shed in LO Park could provide basic services such as: running water; toilets and a cafe etc. 

c. Having suffered ASB personally in the past I know how it feels to come home from work and then spend your time worrying about what will happen next. I and my Labour colleagues are keen to work with residents and Police to address this problem and give residents a better life.

We also, need to link up with other providers in order to resolve the problems. A good example is the way in which the youth service were involved in meeting with children in Lo Park after bouts of ASB (FOLP helped to co - ordinate this). We also, need better facilities for young people e.g. Improved tennis courts and organised sessions of tuition etc. With the help of recreational services (who might be able to utilise the improved facilities in the
summer shed!).

d. To think we are in the 21 st century and children are going to school hungry, spend school holidays starving and their parents have no means to address this due to the Tory Government’s Austerity programme. It is wrong that one of the biggest growth areas is in food banks, with average families facing £1000’s in cuts. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists “could have been written today rather than 105 years ago.

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

a. I have found a lot of the young people living rough are the result of reaching the age of 18 and being within the care system. We need to look at putting in place some form of after care. we need to work with groups like "Coffee for Craig"

b. local plans for the area. When I was a Councillor I worked with local residents from both Claremont and weaste. There were other councillors and officers .We spent months and months on a plan for the future.It now sits on a shelf somewhere within the civic. it's fantastic all the planned Building for Salford as a hold. but where are the affordable House's,where is the inferstructure, Schools,are now bursting at the seams, Doctors, Dentist.What about the Roads. Claremont at the moment is one big rat-run.The proposed development on Duncan Mathieson playing fields.100 houses,and could be more. Lancaster Road is now tail to tail traffic.how will it copy with 200 more cars, because you look at 2 cars per household

c. Think I covered that above

d. We have within the city a quarter of children living in poverty.I know the council have done a strategy on how to combat the problem. The Government cuts have done nothing but harm to our most needy within our city. it's hard to believe we are living in the 21 century and we have people living on the streets,food banks and children going to school hungry.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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Question 6 was regarding what issue each candidate identified as the most important facing Salford as a whole.

Which issue do you identify as the most important across the whole of Salford?

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

I think there are lots of issues which effect the whole of the city.The major cutbacks have brought poverty,an increase in crime. Famlies are finding it hard to live day to day.

Do they pay their rent or put food on the table. Our Council are not helping by the growing amount of loans we have committed the city into.

The interest comes from the pot of money that pays for our main services. Our Council appear to be putting the developers first.No affordable housing, no planning fees and no 106 monies.the latter would help with the infrastructure.

So I think the housekeeping within our Council is a major issue.

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

Austerity is attacking every Salfordian with the Government cutting £187m from the council budget or 42% since 2010, this affects roads, public transport, bin collections, schools, local schools stand to lose a further £500,000 which equates to 7 teachers. We also see a rise in crime as police numbers are cut and longer waiting times at Salford Royal because Salford residents cannot get an appointment with their GP and this will only get worse as we approach winter.

The CPSO's have proved to be a huge asset on our ward and they are well known, however, even these have suffered from the cuts!

Given that we have suffered considerably from the cuts, could we not use the existing services more effectively by integrating support when necessary? For ASB, maybe the youth service, police, councillors, community groups and recreational services.

Recycling is another area where due to government cuts black bin collections have now gone to 3 weekly cycles which is common in the majority of the country, this was piloted in the west of the city and was very successful. Food waste and garden waste are still collected weekly with paper and bottle/plastic collections fortnightly. Other parties may say they will want to return to weekly bin collections which now is not economically viable and is also an attack on the environment, there is only so much landfill space.

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

Probably housing. The provision of affordable housing linked to the growth in homelessness and the question of safety and cladding of tower blocks.

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

The face of Salford is rapidly changing. Increased investment and growth in Manchester stemming from the Northern Powerhouse project has undoubtedly impacted Salford.

A stronger conurbation has been positive (for example more jobs -especially skilled jobs - is always good news for our residents) but we need to make sure that no-one is left behind, and that new opportunities are available to residents.

With further devolved power and forthcoming infrastructure such as HS2 and the Ordsall Chord, these issues will become even more apparent. 

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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Upon hearing what candidates view as the most important issue facing Salford we asked..

How do you propose to tackle it?

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

I care about Salford and I care about our communities. If elected, I will lobby our regions politicians to ensure our communities benefit from these forthcoming powers to ensure that we get the best deal and continue to remain a welcoming, inclusive and enjoyable place to live. 

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

To resolve this problem the council must stop letting developers off from their legal responsibilities to provide section 106 money and include a proportion of genuinely affordable houses or flats in their glossy new developments.

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

Working with my fellow Labour councillors and the Labour elected Mayor we will further
lobby the Government to treat Salford residents like it treated Surry residents and provide
more money to city.

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

I would question every decision regarding funding and planning fees. I would challenge decisions made behind closed doors. I would bring anything I found to be questionable to the powers that be. And the community.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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We then asked... 

Why should the electorate vote for you?

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

I will regularly get out on the doorsteps and listen to residents concerns. 1 will take up issues with relevant council departments and keep on at them till a solution is found.

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

Only Labour can deliver for the people of Claremont, lone voices “highlighting” this that and the other does not get things done, we have seen many 100’s of jobs already created on the Quays for Salford people by the Labour Council’s vision for what was an industrial waste land 25 years ago, something other candidates may wish it would have stayed that way.

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

I would be humbled to be a representative for Claremont's residents on Salford City Council. I am excited about the opportunity to serve local people and have a genuine fire in my belly about the opportunities available to the community. I would work tirelessly for those I represent and I would not simply be a backbench Labour lackey - I would be someone willing to fight for our community, no matter what. 

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

I am passionate about Claremont and my city. I am rather gobby. I am not frightened of standing up and asking questions, or challenging decisions that I feel are not in the best interest of Claremont or the city.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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Don't worry its nearing the end now folks, we asked each candidate how they think the area would benefit by choosing them Councillor.

How will choosing you as local Councillor benefit the area?

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

Working as a team and using our experiences from our work in the other areas of the city, working in the community, in advisory and advocacy capacities and union reps can only be a force for good for the people of Claremont.

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

This is my home. I have brought up 4 children,2  live in the ward. I want the best for them and my grandchildren. So I think my skill would be my love for Claremont.

I want to see the area getting better and better. I would do my very best for the people of the ward.

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

I will work with Councillors across all parties to improve services . I will work with traders and local businesses to make their lives easier and their businesses more successful.

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

I am a hard worker who doesn't give in. Colleagues have referred to me in the past as a "work horse" as I am always 100% committed to the things I chose to do.

I hope I can be something different, some fresh blood who has new ideas about the Council and how it's services can be run. But most importantly, I will know I will serve the Claremont community well and be the voice the community needs. 

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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And finally the last question we asked was about what skill candidates considered to be their most valuable that would help them serve as a Councillor.

What is your skill that will serve you best as Councillor?

 

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Mary Ferrer - Independent

I think I have served the community as best as I can over the last 30 years

 

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Stef Lorenz - Liberal Democrats

I will be a voice for Claremont whenever and wherever I can.

 

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Charlotte Woods - Conservative

I'm a doer. I don't take no for an answer and I'm willing to fight for what I believe in. If elected to Claremont, I promise to get things done. 

 

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Mike Pevitt - Labour

Getting people to come together to organise and work for their community to improve their lives in the area and them to work together to overcome many everyday problems. Working with team Labour to improve the lives of the many and not the few.

 

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Daniel Towers - Green Party

No reply

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And there you have it folks, we really do hope these few questions will help give an insight into each candidate and allow you to make an informed judgement on which one best represents you best.

Our aim here is not to show bias towards any candidate, simply just allow them to answer a number of questions that concern both Claremont and Salford. 

I would like to thank all Candidates for taking part in this article, without their involvement it would have not happened and so I can not thank them enough.

I personally wish each and every one of them the best of luck in the upcoming election, no matter who wins or who looses they are all community champions and winners as they are standing up for what they believe in and making their voices heard.

So you have seen the questions, read their answers, all that is left now is for the people of Claremont to get out there and vote, so make sure that vote counts and your voice is heard by heading down to the booth's on polling day and putting your mark where you think it will have the most impact.

We will be there at the count to bring Salford the results LIVE as they are announced.

And with that I now conclude this article the way it started, by saying a huge thank you to Councillor Joe Murphy who put his heart and soul into his work, tirelessly served his community and will be sorely missed by all. May he rest in peace.

For Joe.


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