We should listen to residents, says Lib Dem candidate in Hollingdean and Stanmer by-election

Alex Hargreaves

Seven candidates are standing in a by-election in Hollingdean and Stanmer ward for a seat on Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday 6 May.

The seat became vacant when Labour councillor Tracey Hill resigned to move to Derbyshire for family reasons.

The seven candidates are Emma Dawson-Bowling née Hogan (Conservative), Leila Erin-Jenkins (Labour), Nigel Furness (Independent), Alex Hargreaves (Liberal Democrat), Zoë John (Green), Des Jones (UKIP) and Rob Somerton-Jones (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition).

Each candidate was sent questions which were submitted by community groups and voters. Below are the responses from Liberal Democrat candidate Alex Hargreaves.

Why do you want to be a councillor for Hollingdean and Stanmer?

I was born and grew up in Brighton and, while I moved away for a few years to go to university and work, I moved back a few years later.

While I absolutely love Brighton, there are some issues with the city that can be improved – for example, the lack of affordable housing in the city – and I would like to help make the improvements.

What do you think you will bring to this role?

I have a varied background, having worked in teaching, recruitment and now the energy industry.

All of these jobs have involved tenacity, pragmatism, problem-solving and communication skills, which align well with the requirements of being a good councillor.

Additionally, I want the best for Brighton, so I will also bring enthusiasm and willingness to work hard to improve the city.

What understanding do you have of the struggles that children, young people and adults and their families face because they have additional needs or a disability?

I worked as a teacher briefly. While I realised that teaching was not for me, it did help highlight the additional pressures on families when children have additional needs or disabilities.

That is on top of the ordinary difficulties (both financial and emotional) that I know all families face day-to-day – I have a young son myself, and while we do not have any additional needs, it can still be pretty stressful – so I can only imagine how much harder it can be for some people.

To what extent do you support the trend of building more homes on busy, polluted roads, exposing more people to it?

I generally think there isn’t enough housing in the city, there are many homeless people, and there is very little affordable housing for younger people, so I wouldn’t want to rule out building homes on busy roads if they were the only place available to build them.

I think the better focus would be to try to reduce pollution on the roads by encouraging people to walk, cycle or use public transport where possible.

How can you ensure that residents of Saunders Park don’t get forgotten as the area is very seldom mentioned or factored in to Hollingdean and Stanmer ward? There are no meeting spaces, no focus or strategy for the area and it is densely packed.

If there was an appetite for it, I would be happy to survey the residents of Saunders Park to find out their primary concerns and see that they are incorporated in a wider strategy for the area.

How do you think a park and ride scheme, as suggested by the Climate Assembly, could be implemented in Brighton and Hove?

I would support a park and ride scheme into Brighton, though my preference would be for the parking to exist outside the main part of the city, to minimise unnecessary traffic coming into the city if possible.

What would you do to improve transport equity in our city for the 40 per cent of households who do not have access to a car?

It is not necessarily a bad thing that 40 per cent of households do not own a car, we should be encouraging people to use sustainable transport where possible.

However, I would like to ensure that public transport is affordable, frequent and useful enough to enable people to live in the city without needing a car.

Our playgrounds are dated, and some of the equipment is broken. How will you champion improving play areas for our children?

I have a two-year-old. I know how much he loves a playground and how useful it is as a parent to get him outside to burn off some energy. I would push hard to make sure broken equipment is fixed when it is reported and that equipment is replaced when it becomes outdated.

There are no youth clubs in the area. What will you do to give teenagers something to do?

This is a great point. It’s true and I as a father to a young child, I do wonder what my kid will get up to as they grow.

I think we need to be exploring the possibility of doing more things like expanding outdoor activity in parks for youngsters, as was done on The Level with a skate park.

What action will you take to tackle dog waste on our streets?

I would ensure that there are plenty of dog bins and adequate signs to encourage dog owners to clear up after their pets.

I would also like to see prosecutions take place for repeat offenders.

What are you going to do about the rubbish problems of missed collections and people dumping their rubbish in communal bins?

I would like to ensure that there are sufficient refuse staff to collect bins and that the service is managed effectively so that there are fewer missed collections.

I would also like there to be some visibility for when a collection will be if the scheduled one has been missed – perhaps on a webpage.

What will you do to make yourself known as an active part of our community?

I would make myself known and available to all the local residents’ associations and community groups.

I think it’s really important to be accessible and to actually listen to residents’ concerns so we can respond creatively and create a better city for all.

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