General Election 2017: meet the candidates - Antony Rogers - The Solihull Observer

General Election 2017: meet the candidates - Antony Rogers

Solihull Editorial 18th May, 2017   0

Our country has been through a lot in the past decade and the future is uncertain. Now is the time for a committed and truly local voice to represent the people of Meriden and the borough we all call home.

My father is from Solihull and he moved us here when his career brought him back to the midlands in 1987; I was seven. I attended local schools, before earning a degree in Business from Coventry University. I now co-own a small business with an equal partner and we have steered the ship through the recession and remained in business since starting up back in 2007 which took hard graft and good judgement.

I live in Shirley with my wife who is an officer for the West Midlands Police. I have many friends and relatives who live, work and send their children to school in Solihull. I feel very connected to and passionate about our town. I understand the character of our borough. I understand what attracts so many people and businesses to it. I think Meriden deserves a local voice representing it as we look to the future.

So why did I become a Liberal Democrat? I saw the Liberal Democrats as a force for good in coalition government and a much needed restraining influence on damaging Tory cuts to both services and taxes on the very wealthy. I thought Lorely Burt, our Liberal MP for Solihull, did an excellent job and I genuinely believe that Meriden would benefit from a like-minded MP who will really champion the constituency.

As the husband of a police officer, I have seen the damage inflicted by the Conservative Party’s relentless austerity. I have watched on as officer numbers have been cut, leaving officers “single crewed” more often. Without backup, they face even more risk when they put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities. Frustratingly, the cuts also took their toll on civilian staff and vital resources such as custody blocks, which means that the already thinned ranks have been burdened with an ever growing workload and inefficient, lengthy journeys to so-called “super blocks”. This costs us all.

It’s a similar story wherever you look. While the cracks are beginning to show for the police, the NHS is reaching breaking point. Any government needs to be realistic and will have to make tough decisions about funding levels and what treatments do and don’t get prioritised but I don’t believe A&E units should be up for discussion. Yet, like many parts of the health service, they’re in crisis. It’s a damning indictment that the Tory axe has fallen too hard and cut too deeply.

Let’s not return the same Tory MP who wants “more resources” for our local services while belonging to a party that has systematically failed to provide those resources on a national level; however they spin it, NHS spending per person is down.

The NHS used to be a source of national pride. Your Tory candidate is proud of low taxes instead.

We are told to accept the austerity to get public borrowing and spending under control but there’s still more to come. The IFS expects Phillip Hammond to fail to balance the books by 2022 without finding an extra £15bn of tax rises or spending cuts.

It doesn’t have to be this way, so on the 8th of June I’m giving you a choice.

We can slow down the rate at which we tackle the deficit and make a change, so that we dig a little deeper to fund our most vital services.

We are having an honest conversation with the electorate and are calling for an extra 1 penny on the pound for all rates of income tax ring-fenced for the NHS. This will see a person on £30,000 per year’s monthly income tax contribution rise from £308 to just under £324.

This approach would help protect one of our most important services from lack of funding, whilst not resorting to reckless borrowing and failing the long term objective of reducing our national debt.

These issues face us all, right here in Meriden. Let me stand up for you and send a message to the very top of government that Meriden should get the services it deserves and that we’re willing to work together to protect them.

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