Leeds West general election Yorkshire Party candidate Bob Buxton, answers readers’ questions ahead of the election. A full list of candidates and their responses can be found here.
1. What is your party going to do to make sure my kids have good educational opportunities?
Yorkshire secondary schools get £1000 less per pupil per year than those in London, even though we have the worst GCSE results in the country. London schools used to have the worst, before the introduction of the London Challenge, which involved more staff training, collaboration between schools and extra funding. It’s time for a Yorkshire Challenge.
As an engineering teacher at Leeds City College, I’m passionate about promoting constructivist education, which is based on promoting autonomy and not just test taking. I’m proud to help students who have not succeeded in school progress to science and engineering courses at top universities, including Leeds.
I oppose the replacement of free school lunches for infants with breakfasts. Ensuring a proper cooked meal for all benefits children’s health and attention in the classroom. The cut will not result in much of a cost saving, since schools will have to open earlier, incurring extra staff and insurance costs.
2. What is your stance on the three million EU citizens living in the UK?
After the Brexit vote, the Yorkshire Party started a petition to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK because we value the contribution they make to our society and economy. 40% of NHS staff are foreign born, including many EU citizens.
3. What would you do to support Social Care in our area, particularly foster care, in a climate of cuts that are seeing fewer workers caring for more children?
As a regional party, the Yorkshire Party has no policy on national tax rates. It would therefore be left to individual MPs to decide such matters.
I personally believe we need to increase taxes slightly, such as a penny on basic rate income tax and larger increments for higher rates, to protect Social Care, as well as the NHS, policing and education.
To not do so, is to take from children’s future and turn a blind eye to the emerging crisis in Social Care. People earning less than £20,000 could still be slightly better off with an increase in the tax free allowance.
4. What will you do to give young people the very best opportunities in life, to help them prepare for uncertain futures in a global world economy?
As well as my policies on education and Social Care, I think we need more quality council houses and cheaper homes for first time buyers. Campaigning on Towler Drive last week, I found a lovely atmosphere of children playing in green open spaces, neighbours chatting and well built new houses; let’s have more like that on brownfield sites.
Unfortunately, Leeds City Council plans too many larger, expensive homes on greenbelt. As well as destroying greenbelt in many parts of Leeds, this does not address our housing needs. This is why I think we should break up Leeds City Council into smaller district councils, like we used to have; we can do a better job with housing.
I also believe in ending university tuition fees and cancelling student debt. It just isn’t fair to lumber graduates with an average of £44,000 worth of debt at the start of their professional lives.
5, When do candidates see austerity coming to an end and living standards and security improving?
When will austerity end? The cuts are so deep, especially in education, that we are harming our children’s future. Then again, maintaining a deficit is also harming the future.
We have to accept that, whoever ends up in government, we will all pay more taxes – maybe more VAT or other stealth taxes, maybe income tax. Income tax tends to be fairer since it differentiates on the grounds of ability to pay.
The wealthiest will pay the highest rate, but almost everyone has to pay more if we’re ever to see an end to austerity. I say this as someone on a teacher’s salary, the sole earner of a family of four, who, like everyone else, doesn’t have much spare cash.
Yorkshire can come out of austerity if the right decisions are made. Avoiding more cuts to education is also key to improving our economy, otherwise we will reduce our skills-base and harm future growth.
To answer the question of when austerity will end, given the uncertainty over Brexit, would be to make a wild guess, based on nothing whatsoever; I’ll ask Diane Abbott.
In 200 words or less, tell us why readers should vote for you/your party?
A vote for me is a vote for cheaper housing on brownfield sites, for better infrastructure and a vote against losing greenbelt. Greenbelt prevents urban sprawl and maintains the character of towns and villages as separate, unique communities. Leeds City Council doesn’t listen to us. We can’t get rid of them because they have a majority based all around Leeds. Let’s have smaller, more accountable councils; if you don’t like their housing policy, you can vote them out.
Education is my profession and passion. I will do everything in my power to protect education from deepening cuts. I also wish to reform the way children are taught; more autonomy, fewer tests.
Leeds is the largest city in the EU without a mass transit system and has appalling air quality. l propose an expert-led Leeds Transport Review, not influenced by politicians. More rail services and stations, improved cycle routes and tram-trains are all possibilities, but let’s have experts weigh up the costs and benefits.
Greater autonomy for Yorkshire, like Scotland already has, will allow us to make the changes we need for a better future. Westminster politics looks after London, let’s look after Yorkshire; vote for the Yorkshire Party.