THE FOUR contenders for the title of MP for the City of Chester have been announced ahead of the General Election on May 7.
They are: Stephen Mosley (Conservative); Chris Matheson (Labour); Bob Thompson (Liberal Democrat); and Steve Ingram (UKIP).
The Leader asked each to introduce themselves and outline some of their plans and pledges for the city.
Bob Thompson (Liberal Democrat):
A genuine Cestrian, in that he was born within the City Walls, father-of-two Mr Thompson lives in Hoole with his partner Rose.
He attended King’s School and later studied industrial economics at the University of Nottingham.
After graduating he worked for ICI and then Ineos ChlorVinyls in Runcorn as an HR director before he retired in 2007.
He has involved himself in the community, having been chair of the Chester and District Housing Trust, a governor at Hoole Primary School and director of a local homeless charity. He has also been a parish, city and most recently a borough councillor.
A known campaigner, he fought against the closure of Hoole library, helped save Lightfoot Lodge Respite Centre and is fighting to have a safe walkway and cycleway over the Hoole railway bridge.
“If you want the best for your city then you have to be ambitious and reach for the stars,” said Mr Thompson, a grandfather-of-three.
Among his aspirations for the city is the establishment of a tram network criss-crossing the city centre from Lache to the zoo and from Blacon to Vicars Cross.
“Chester is now an easy city to access,” he said. “This would transform the accessibility of the city and relieve environmental pollution.”
He believes Chester’s high street needs a boost – but not by forcing it to compete with Liverpool and Manchester.
“We have to have something different and I think that lies with the small independent shops,” he said.
Mr Thompson would also like to see a new museum for the city and full excavation of the amphitheatre.
Stephen Mosley (Conservative)
Mr Mosley lives in Chester with his young family and is a former city councillor. With a background in business, he was appointed one of the Prime Minister’s Small Business Ambassadors in 2013.
He was the Member of Parliament between 2010 and 2015, and said that during that time he built up a strong reputation as someone who champions Chester and its residents.
Mr Mosley has outlined six priorities for Chester, should he be re-elected.
“Thousands of new apprenticeships have been created and youth unemployment in Chester is at a record low,” he said. “I want to ensure we are creating even more opportunities for our young people.
“The council’s plans for a new theatre will revitalise Chester’s cultural offering. I will carry on backing the plans, making sure it is on time and on budget.
“We have seen the largest investment in our schools in over 50 years, with schools being rebuilt, more school places, and two new schools open in Chester. I will continue to lobby for investment in better schools and higher standards.
“The greenbelt is precious, and I will continue to protect it from unnecessary development.
“HS2, HS3 and the Northern Hub will help to transform our railways. I want to make sure that Chester benefits and is campaigning for the electrification of Chester’s railways.
“Crime is at its lowest level for decades. I will work with the local police to keep the figures tumbling.”
He added: “I will continue to champion Chester at every opportunity and help to make our city an even better place to live, work and visit.”
Chris Matheson (Labour)
Mr Matheson grew up in rural Cheshire and now lives with his wife and two school-aged children in Hoole.
He has enjoyed a varied career that has included working in the electricity industry and for an economics think-tank. Currently he works as a HR manager for a trade union.
If elected, Mr Matheson says he will fight to attract more and better jobs to Chester, support businesses and ensure everyone receives fair pay.
He said: “When I was a child, coming into Chester was a big deal. These days you don’t get that feeling. Chester has declined in the last five years. Unemployment is up and average wages are down – by around £2,000 a year. Hundreds of families can’t afford decent housing or childcare and there’s a sense that we’re passing on to our children a bleaker future with less hope and less security.
“It feels as though Britain works for millionaires in the City of London and not for ordinary people in Chester. We’ve stagnated and declined since 2010. It’s time for a fresh approach.”
He says his priority is “returning prosperity and fairness back to our city”.
“Businesses in the Chester area are great,” he said. “Our people have the talent and the drive. All that’s missing is a government standing up for ordinary people, ensuring when you do a fair day’s work you get a fair day’s pay. It’s simple.”
He added: “I’ll work with employers to attract real, high value jobs to Chester. Labour’s house building programme will provide support for both renters and buyers.
“I’ll also fight against the threat of fracking in Upton or anywhere else that threatens our Cheshire countryside.”
Steve Ingram (UKIP)
Born and bred in Chester, Mr Ingram has been married for 30 years this year with three grown-up children. He runs his own small business and lives in Blacon.
He became involved in local issues in May 2012, after becoming concerned that schools were using biometric fingerprint scanners.
Mr Ingram said: “I understand the challenges facing the City of Chester and UKIP’s policy on local referenda will play a part in giving residents a say on local issues such as planning and unconventional gas and oil exploration. Housing allocation and jobs for residents, dealing with areas of poverty and evictions will play a major role. We will seek to make the most effective use of public funds and scrutinise local spending to ensure frontline services are met and those in need assisted accordingly.”
UKIP in Chester seeks to protect public owned assets from transfer to a public/private partnership, and seeks to ensure all public land/buildings are audited and available for public scrutiny, Mr Ingram said.
He says he will support small businesses and encourage councils to provide more free parking to help boost high street trade.
Mr Ingram will also focus on national issues, pushing for a referendum on the UK’s future role in the European Union and pushing the debate on issues such as immigration and foreign aid. He said: “British politicians have ignored issues such as uncontrolled immigration, a European referendum, EU contributions and excessive foreign aid. Public services are being cut and people are using food banks while we seemingly fund the rest of the world.
“We have to regain full sovereignty and control our own country to be able to provide a future of excitement and opportunity for our children and grandchildren.”
See full story in the Chester Leader