24th May, 2017

General Election 2017: meet the candidates - Alison Gavin

Sarah Mason 18th May, 2017

My name is Alison Gavin. I’m a teacher and I live with my husband Mark in Bentley Heath, having previously lived in Chelmsley Wood.

I previously stood for the Green Party at the last General Election.

Like many local people, I feel abandoned by the established political parties. When I see politicians “booing” at each other in Westminster and shouting names, or claiming exorbitant expenses I despair. If we behaved that way at work, we’d be sacked, and rightly so.

I also despair at the way the economy was being run. We are seeing a handful of people get ever-richer whilst those in the middle see their living standards fall and we see increasing numbers of children living in poverty (now 1 in 3 in the West Midlands). Things absolutely have to change.

We need both a new approach to doing politics, and a new set of policies that benefit everyone and are pragmatic, fair and based on solid evidence of what works. I’m standing for the Green Party as I believe they offer a better way of doing politics that works with people and leaves the old party tribalism behind, and they offer a new set of policies informed by evidence and formed by normal people.

These policies will make sure the most vulnerable in our society don’t continue to bear the brunt of the government cuts – for example, we absolutely cannot continue to see the numbers of people sleeping on the streets we have this last year.

And we can’t continue to see disabled people like me continuing to see the help we need to work and play our part in society cut back again and again. We must stand up for a new politics that works for everyone.

As a teacher, I am horrified by the level of funding Solihull sees for its schools, and a system which is based on endless and unnecessary testing. Since 2015 £2.2bn has been taken out of the education system and between now and 2020 the Conservative government plans to take out a further £3bn.

That’s over £200,000 for every school or £1000 for every pupil. The academies programme has taken schools out of the hands of local authorities and parents and given them over to private businesses.

That means that if a school isn’t performing a commercial interest, it can be shut down at will by the owners, leaving pupils without a school to go to.

At the same time as schools are getting less resources, more is being asked of teachers and pupils. Children are now being tested from age seven onwards, and the fact teachers too are assessed on how well they drill their pupils for these exams – with the shadow of Ofsted hanging over them – means they have no time to do the thing they are meant to be at school for: teaching. The workload for teachers is unmanageable and is forcing them to leave the profession.

We believe in creating an inspiring education system. First and foremost we must make up for the enormous shortfall, the massive neglect, in our education system.

Greens will ensure the education spending deficit of £7bn is plugged, laying the foundations for a transformative education system.

We will scrap SATs so that pupils are no longer subjected to pointless, pressurised testing. And we will put an end to the academies programme and bring existing academies back under local authority control so that our children’s education is in the hands of teachers and parents, not businesses.

We’ll stand up for the NHS to make sure it is properly funded, and we’ll stand up for an economy works for everyone, providing jobs people can build a life on, and affordable homes.

The Green Party is now the second biggest party on Solihull Council. More and more people are choosing to send a message to business-as-usual parties by supporting fresh new politics and voting Green. Please stand with us on June 8 and vote for a new way of doing politics.