Lib Dem candidate in Patcham by-election promises a fresh perspective

Madelaine Hunter-Taylor

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

The seat became vacant when Conservative councillor Lee Wares resigned to move closer to his elderly parents.

The five candidates are Bruno De Oliveira (Labour), Charles Goodhand (UK Independence Party), Madelaine Hunter-Taylor (Liberal Democrat), Anne Meadows (Conservative) and Eliza Wyatt (Green).

Each candidate was sent questions which were submitted by community groups and voters. Below are the responses from Lib Dem candidate Madelaine Hunter-Taylor.

Why do you want to be a councillor in Patcham ward?

Standing as a candidate in Patcham is an exciting opportunity to work closely with the community and advocate for issues that are important to residents.

I am a proud Brightonian, a parent to three teenagers who attend the local high school and run a community interest company highlighting the impact of domestic abuse.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched funding cuts deeply impact our communities, and that is not acceptable alongside the challenges of the past year.

I believe it’s important to work together to create a community that feels safe and supported alongside doing my best to shape a city that residents are proud to call their home.

What do you think you will bring to this role?

I will bring a fresh perspective to ongoing issues and a motivation to overcome any barriers we face.

I have a determination to challenge long-standing issues that others are failing to resolve.

In my professional (and sometimes my personal) life, I’m faced with constant problem-solving, engage with lots of different people and work towards solutions to very complex issues.

I’m not afraid of big challenges.

I want to bring an approachable, relatable face to local politics and ensure the local council and democracy is understood and accessible to all residents.

The Liberal Democrats are dedicated to supporting Patcham over the coming years and are looking forward to getting to know its residents.

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 am a parent to a child with hearing loss that was identified in early childhood. I have had to advocate for them and am grateful to the professionals that have supported us over the years in an increasingly restrictive funding environment.

There are many challenges this group face and it is important that everyone has fair access to adequate support.

To what extent do you support the trend of building more homes on busy roads, exposing more people to pollution? What will you do to improve air quality?

Principally, we need to focus on reducing the more polluted areas of the city by designing a more joined-up transport strategy, making cycling safer and ensuring better bus route coverage to encourage less car journeys.

There’s no question that Brighton and Hove needs more affordable housing, in particular, to enable the younger generation to flourish.

This can be achieved through ethical, thoughtful development in conjunction with greener infrastructure, tree-planting and rewilding of certain local green spaces.

We must reduce pollutants going into the air in the first place but also improve air quality by rewilding green areas and encouraging tree-planting in our parks, fields and, where appropriate, along streets.

With proper community consultation, something in too short supply recently, we must develop a joined-up transport plan to encourage people out of cars, be it on to bicycles, public transport or even on foot. For those with cars, we should increase infrastructure for electric car charging throughout the city.

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

While park and ride may be desirable in terms of reducing car journeys into Brighton itself, it doesn’t do enough to discourage car journeys overall and so in part only serves to shift emissions to other areas.

While it may be part of the solution and could certainly be incorporated into a wider plan, improving bus and train connections to surrounding areas is a far more desirable goal in reducing car journeys overall.

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?

We need to make sure public transport is as accessible as possible to all.

This means wider coverage across routes, reducing tickets costs and improving the reliability of services.

On top of that, we need to work with communities to ensure that lone travel on public transport is safe for young people and women in the city.

We also need to work with communities to promote safe cycling and increase bike share availability throughout the city.

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

As a mother to three children and after spending many, many years in local playgrounds, I appreciate a well-equipped, safe play area.

Alongside the child obesity agenda and after a tough year for many children, it’s of vital importance to protect these spaces for the physical and emotional wellbeing of our children.

I will work to educate my colleagues about the importance of high-quality play areas and champion their maintenance, replacement and improvement.

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

Young people are the heart of our community and are disproportionately impacted by the reduction of investment throughout the city.

They deserve local opportunities to thrive outside their home or school settings and I would love to see a range of accessible activities to ensure this is achieved.

Working with local organisations and funders, I would aim to develop a sustainable programme of activities for local young people.

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

We have seen a dramatic increase in dog ownership in the past year and a subsequent rise in dog waste.

We all need to do our best to keep Patcham clean and safe for everyone who uses it and I would encourage all dog owners to bag and bin their dog’s waste.

This is a persistent issue that has dominated conversations for too many years. It’s time for a fresh approach and a solution that works.

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

Firstly, I’d like to thank workers on the streets at Cityclean who have continued to operate through an extremely challenging time, doing their best to keep our city clean in difficult circumstances.

I understand how certain factors can impact collections and, in turn, leave residents feeling frustrated, but concerns relating to bin collection have been raised for too many years.

I want to understand what the barriers have been to delivering a consistent service alongside developing a waste reductive initiative promoting a reduction in waste across the city.

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

I pride myself on my ability to get things done. Bringing people together to understand challenges and barriers and working towards solutions.

I believe that you need to roll up your sleeves and get involved. I’m happy to muck in or lend my voice to local issues and look forward to working alongside the residents of Patcham, working towards a cleaner, safer community.

  1. Jonathan Simons Reply

    Talking about cuts to councils as a Lib Dem is pretty bizarre considering your cosy deal with the Tories caused all of them.

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