Terry Savage - Labour Party, Eddisbury

As the country prepares to head to the polls on December 12, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has been interviewing all candidates in Eddisbury.

Terry Savage discusses his hopes of becoming the constituency’s first Labour MP since 1945.

Who are you?

I was an USDAW [shopworkers’ union] negotiating officer, I negotiated for the whole of retail.

Tesco had a distribution centre in Winsford. I came along and thought ‘this is a nice place with nice people’. I was surprised at the value of houses in Winsford compared to Sale where I was living at the time.

So I moved to Winsford and I have been involved in local issues for many years. I retired from USDAW in 2003 and I was appointed as a non-executive director at Central Cheshire PCT.

I was appointed as the chair for community services in the area, and I carried out that role until 2011. I was also appointed as an independent member of the Cheshire Police Authority from 2006 to 2012 when it was abolished.

From 2012 I was appointed onto the Vale Royal CCG governing body as the patient voice, and I currently still sit on there. I have been involved in NHS at senior levels, speaking on behalf of patients in the area, for 16 years.

Is this the first time you have stood to be an MP?

I previously stood to be MP in 1983 in the town of Grantham – Margaret Thatcher’s hometown.

My opponent in those days was Douglas Hogg, the man who had his moat cleared in the expenses, and I think that brought home to me just how far removed politicians are from ordinary people.

What we need in Parliament are people who have got everyday life experience – and I certainly have got that.

I’ve got a lot of experience working in the community, working with people, and I have represented working people at all different levels for 40 years. So I think I have the experience to stand as MP.

And why are you running for Labour?

Austerity was a political choice made by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, it did not have to be like that. Ordinary people did not cause the world financial crash, that was caused by the financiers, the bankers.

People have had to pay the penalty for those mistakes and I think it is about time that ordinary people have the ability to be able to benefit from the wealth of this country.

We are the fifth wealthiest country in the world and yet we have seen the difference between the rich and the poor getting wider.

I speak to people everyday who don’t have any money at the end of the week, they have no savings and they are very worried about how they can continue – austerity has made that a lot worse.

I would be there to fight the argument on behalf of ordinary people living in our communities. We’ve seen public services downgraded, local government – which provides all those services we rely on – has had its finances reduced by an enormous amount over the past nine years.

And public transport, not just in the rural areas which are very difficult, but places like Winsford – public transport is appalling. If you have not got your own transport life is very difficult, you are isolated into your own little areas.

A&E performance hit a record low according to figures released this month. How can that be turned around?

The biggest issue apart from the money is about how the NHS has now been carved up. They’ve introduced a market economy into the NHS when no market exists.

They are pitting hospitals against commissioners, providers against commissioners, and all that means is rather than getting things done, those battles are going on about contracts. That needs to be resolved, we need to eradicate the so-called market from within the NHS.

David Cameron in 2010 said there would be no more top-down reorganisations within the NHS. Since that we have had a very expensive reorganisation and our Cheshire system is going through another reorganisation at the moment – merging the four CCGs into one.

That is to save money and to try and make things better with a level playing field. My worry is that level playing field will see services match up at the bottom end, rather than trying to improve services so everybody gets the best.

Winsford has seen many new homes built, with more on the way, but infrastructure has not matched the numbers. How can that be resolved?

We’ve seen in Winsford families that have got children going to the academy but their younger siblings are having to be bussed out to Middlewich because the places are not available.

That cannot be acceptable to families who are struggling to drop kids off if they are trying to get to work, and if their children have to be dropped off in two different towns, that could be impossible.

We’ve seen the same with health services. GPs are struggling, it is difficult to get an appointment, and there is a lack of dentistry within Winsford.

All of those things need to be part and parcel of any decision making when building in our towns.

Labour wants to nationalise broadband infrastructure, and in Eddisbury there are still significant gaps in coverage. Is your approach the right one?

I think the market has failed, quite clearly, in terms of rolling out fibre broadband – in fact, rolling out any kind of broadband in some areas.

There is no doubt as a country, that if we want to move ahead, that we have got to be leaders in technology for businesses, for self-employed people and for individuals to get the best possible infrastructure.

If people benefit, businesses benefit, and the country will benefit as a result.

HS2 is set to rip through this constituency – what is your stance on it?

I’ve got some very deep concerns regarding the need for HS2. You can get to London from Crewe in less than two hours at the moment, it’s a service I used for many years when working with USDAW.

Overall I’m not sure that being able to get to London 20 minutes quicker is worth the cost of not only the environmental damage, but also the £100 billion and rising for having HS2.

I think there are many other things we could spend that money on in our local communities that would be far better than what is being offered.

Environmentally, people are having their homes taken away from them, they have got to go elsewhere. We need to make sure that improvements in rail meet the needs of our communities rather than having a pipedream.

Poverty has risen in recent years, particularly in Winsford where food bank use has grown and child poverty is rife. What needs to change?

I believe that in the last nine years we have seen a major redistribution of wealth, but it has been going from the poor to the rich.

I think our whole philosophy is about putting people at the heart of the decision-making process – so people don’t have to go to food banks in order to live. I’ve met a number of people in the last few weeks that have relied on food banks.

Homelessness is a scourge that no civilised country should put up with at all, so our programme is about rebalancing the economy, putting people at the heart of things so not just the few can benefit from the wealth of our country, but everybody shares in that wealth.

If everybody shares in it, people will be happier, they will be spending money, businesses will benefit as a result and we will eradicate a lot of the inequalities that have crept in over the last 40 years where people have felt divorced from decisions that are being made.

What would you say to someone who likes what Labour is proposing, but is concerned about the cost of it?

The Labour programme is fully costed. We’ve got a grey book that sets out all the costs that are tied to our pledges. People who are earning more than £80,000 a year have to pay their fair share.

There are so many schemes where people earning significant amounts of money are able to avoid paying tax – it’s time we start rebalancing that so people pay their fair share.

If people at the top don’t pay their tax we are all worse off – all the services we rely upon have to be paid for out of taxes.

Winsford Industrial Estate is on the verge of major expansion – is there a risk that Labour’s plans could put businesses off investing here?

No, I think the problem for businesses is that all the uncertainty we have gone through over the last three years with exiting Europe has meant they have been unable to plan effectively, they have had to increase their stock in case of no deal.

All of that has cost businesses money, and what they need now is some certainty.

Our plans are fully costed, it is clear what would be expected, and business would have that certainty of what they have to do – meaning all the investment programmes would be able to go ahead.

Many people in Winsford voted to leave the EU, so is Labour’s approach the right one to heal divisions?

If you vote Conservative you ignore the 16.1 million people who voted to remain, if you vote Liberal Democrat you ignore the 17.4 million who voted to leave.

Labour’s position is we need to bring everybody back together. People voted for a multitude of different reasons, and who am I to argue with them.

But what is important is the amount of disinformation or downright lies with regards to Europe made it difficult for people to make an informed judgement.

Our position is to negotiate without any of the red lines the Tories had, so that we protect jobs, businesses, the environment and consumer rights, and then put that reasonable deal alongside a remain option.

Whatever that decision is then, that decision would be implemented, and then we can move together.

Labour is promising a ‘Green New Deal’ – could that mean jobs in Winsford?

I think so, I think Winsford has a lot of really keen and key people who want to work, want to earn good money.

Winsford as a town is well placed in order to provide these new green jobs. If you look at where we are, in the centre of Cheshire, the ability for people to provide the kind of jobs we are looking for – people in Winsford are keen to take on those jobs.

One of the biggest stories in Eddisbury last winter involved fox hunting – with high profile incidents in areas such as Darnhall. Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner has called for the Hunting Act to be tightened, what do you think?

I think it is 85 per cent of people that are totally opposed to it. I’m opposed to any so-called sport that involves chasing and killing animals.

It’s wrong, the vast majority agree with that view, and we will tighten up the Hunting Act to make sure the loopholes are taken out.

Finally, you have a day off – no work or campaigning to do. How would you spend your ideal day in Cheshire?

I’m very keen on sport, I was the chairman of Winsford United FC, and I’m keen to see all the different age groups – boys and girls – bringing them all together, providing the facilities for them and getting involved to make sure they enjoy that.

So it would involve going outdoors, seeing people enjoy that outdoor participation.

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