County, District and Parish Councillor

Why I’m standing for Parliament…

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Since I was first elected as a Somerset County Councillor in May 2017, so many of you have asked, suggested and some even demanded (in a nice way of course), that I stand for parliament. I even receive correspondence addressing me as John Hunt MP, which always brings a smile to my face.
A couple of months ago with an election looking imminent, I started to consider seriously whether or not I should stand.My thought process started with: if I don’t become a candidate myself, who would I vote for?
My preference in previous elections has always been to vote for the person not the party and I’m not easily swayed by manifesto promises, although I did fall for promises made in 2010, never again.

So, who to choose? Like many of you that I’ve spoken to recently, I’m afraid my faith in the political parties and those that represent them, is completely trashed.

In Taunton Deane, the candidates seem nice people and I wish them well during the election campaign.
However, we badly need a parliamentary representative who truly represents us all, someone who doesn’t turn up only when the cameras are flashing, someone who has already proven that they don’t just appear when there’s an election on the horizon, but consistently supports the local community throughout their term of office. Someone who is available, accessible and responsive. Someone who doesn’t have to pretend to care or at least show an interest and of course, take a full part in the community in which they live.

I want to vote for someone I can trust to really look after the fabulous people of Taunton Deane and I genuinely believe that someone is me.

I found myself in a position where I want to vote for someone and simply cannot find a suitable candidate, so the decision to stand was therefore a simple one to make.

To confirm, I’m standing as an Independent Parliamentary candidate for my home constituency of Taunton Deane in the General Election taking place on Thursday 12th December 2019.

Standing Up For Taunton Deane.

My first priority, is to look after our County Town and the towns and villages that make up Taunton Deane.
I believe that I offer a strong voice, that’s very much in favour of making Taunton Deane what it should be, a thriving constituency. To have direct input, I need to be your member of parliament and if elected, I will represent your views and be your voice at Westminster.

It is very important to us all to see our county town thrive. From my many conversations with you all, it’s abundantly clear that you share my frustrations. The various administrations have made nothing short of a ‘Pig’s Ear’ of their stewardship of our once great town. There are many examples of their ineptitude, here are my top two:

Firepool – Still an eyesore after 10 years left as a wilderness.
Many of you have come up with many constructive ideas on what should be done here. The most popular suggestion by some distance, is the building of a multi-purpose 1,000 – 1,500 seat venue.
Our current district council has now taken this on board, although I am still concerned that they will only consider this as a stand-alone business case, without taking into account the probable financial benefit to other businesses close by and of course the huge benefit to you, the residents.

The political parties like to take the credit for coming up with this scheme, my only concern is that they please just get on with it. I know and you all know whose idea it was don’t you? That’s right, it was YOUR idea.

Castle Green – What a waste of our money and green it is not. Virtually unused, apart from those using it as a skate park and the occasional events that take place, perhaps once per month. How much did it cost? £3 MILLION pounds plus, unbelievable! What were those that supposedly represent us thinking?

So often the towns and villages surrounding Taunton are forgotten and need support from their MP. Elect me and I’ll make sure that you’ll get my full support.
This is very much one of the issues with the new, Taunton centric Somerset West and Taunton Council. Outlying areas feel, and with some justification, rather left out of investment plans etc. I’ll do all that I can to change that, whilst at the same time pushing for Taunton to become the glorious Garden Town that we’d all love to live in and visit.

The Campaign. Between now and 12/12, you’ll see me electioneering in your area, popping leaflets through your door, canvassing for your valuable votes in each town and village. So if you see me, please do come and say hello, the more of you I meet the better.
A promise. You’ll see a lot of me before the election and if elected, you’ll also see a lot of me afterwards.

Climate Change.

It’s frustrating that Brexit has not been sorted out, because there is no question in my opinion that our Parliament’s obsession with the 2016 referendum has completely overshadowed what should be the most important issue, saving our planet.

Here is an extract from a recent speech I made a local Hustings…

Brexit, is all encompassing and is without question the most important issue in this election.

NOT TRUE, not true. The most important issue is CLIMATE CHANGE.

In the Brexit referendum, whether you voted in, out or shake it all about, is irrelevant.

There is no Back-Stop – There is no Planet B.

If we do nothing, the very existence of the Human Race will be under the threat of extinction.

I’m proud to sit on both County and District councils as an Independent councillor.

As you’ll no doubt be aware, both councils have declared a climate emergency, which of course is a step in the right direction.

According to the Cambridge online dictionary, the word emergency means “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action”. Our councils and country for that matter, are clearly using the wrong word.

The United States use a scale called ‘defence readiness condition’ or DEFCON for short, to show the level of alertness of their defence forces. The scale ranges from DEFCON 5 (for normal peacetime) to a maximum of 1 (for situations of global severity, like nuclear war).Surely this Climate Emergency is a situation of global severity and the scale should be ramped up to DEFCON 1.

My own assessment of the status of our local councils and that of our country, is at best DEFCON 4.

We need to change this up now, or our planet is lost to us.

Locally – I’m keen to see Taunton Deane achieve the target of carbon neutrality by 2030, set by the climate emergency declared by the County and District councils.

With this in mind, I’d want to see the following:

Taunton’s Park & Ride is a service I’ve fought very hard to retain and although I still have concerns over it’s future, I want to see it open seven days a week and operate for longer hours.

Prices should be reduced and the older persons bus pass accepted. It’s so important we get people out of there cars, but to do so we must make the service appealing. This would also give more incentive to Musgrove Park Hospital staff and those who work in central town.

Adding a more frequent, reliable and low cost Bus service covering those living throughout the Deane, will reduce carbon emissions, improve the health of those living near the busiest roads and those shopping in our towns, and of course, would be a great financial saving to those using these services.

Cycling routes need to be an integral part of our future plans and I’m very keen to support both the district council with their Garden Town plans and groups like the Taunton Area Cycling Campaign who are pushing for an extensive cycling network in Taunton Deane.

House building is one area where we should be able to make a real difference. I’d like to see Passivhaus standards used when building the district council’s own regeneration of the Woolaway Homes in North Taunton. Clearly this would be expensive and public money must be spent wisely, however, let’s start with a high bar and see how close we can get.

Passivhaus features extra thick insulation, triple-glazed windows and doors, and a special vent system which allows clean air into the home, while ensuring that heat generated through day-today activities does not escape.
Combined with the use of solar energy, utility bills can potentially be eliminated altogether.

These high standards must in my opinion be adopted by Somerset West and Taunton’s planning department, who will be able to use the excellent example set by themselves, assuming they’ve regenerated its own housing stock to these high standards and insist the major house builders follow their lead, or be refused permission. Clearly, as our MP I’ll be lobbying government to make changes to our laws, regulations and guidelines to make these changes possible.

An example of major developments about to start in our constituency are the 1600 homes in Staplegrove and the 2000 unit Trull/Comeytrowe development. Surely this would be an excellent time to start proving that the ‘Climate Emergency‘ has real teeth and our local council are serious about achieving this difficult but achievable target of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Again, I realise that in practice this will be a huge challenge to implement, however we must set out goals high, if we go for a bare minimum, we are more than likely to achieve very little.

Clearly we’ll need Electric vehicle charging points at all new homes and at all car parks, including the P&R.

Tree planting should be an integral part of all plans and wherever possible wild flowers in roadside verges and living walls giving plenty of places where our pollinators can be allowed to flourish.
These include bees, pollen wasps, ants, flies, hoverflies and mosquitoes, both butterflies and moths, and flower beetles.

Our service sector is in a mess…

After years of austerity from the LibDem/Conservative coalition 2010-2015, continued on by Conservatives from 2015 until now.

Our Country finds itself in desperate need proper investment in most, if not all of our services.

Health and Social Care services are on their knees and as for there being real assistance for Mental Health, which I believe would really help to address issues such as homelessness, drug addiction, etc. clearly more investment is badly needed to bring in dedicated professionals in this all important area of Healthcare.

Most of our Hospitals are out of date, with buildings and infrastructure not fit for purpose.

All services are struggling to retain staff. The workforce is overstretched and feels undervalued.  Local authorities like our own District and County Councils have been starved of funding for the last 9 years of the draconian austerity measures introduce by the government and as ever, it’s the most vulnerable in our society that are being hit the hardest, particularly those requiring social care.

Universal Credit’s effect on Taunton’s Food Bank. As an Independent MP, I will be free to vote ‘against’ similar legislation to that introduced by the Tory/LibDem Coalition in 2012, that brought in the Welfare Reform Act and with it, the disaster that is Universal Credit. Delays in payments, led to a huge increase in the use/need for Food Banks and to the opening of the Taunton facility in the same year.

If elected, I pledge to work cross-party to make changes to Universal Credit, allowing those in need to receive their payments promptly and to seek funding for those services looking after people in crisis and ensure the benefits received are enough for people to live on.

Education, is becoming very unfair. With so little investment being made into our Schools, those that are fortunate enough to attend private schools are gaining an even bigger advantage than ever.

I’m a governor at my local Primary School and we have some amazing staff who carry on regardless, quite how they manage I really don’t know. Just like our NHS nurses, they are so dedicated, they’ll always do their best.

At my school, we are lucky to have a very active PTA and they raise thousands for the school, this provides those little extras that enhance the lives of the children. Other schools are not so lucky and this has to change.

On the day I’m writing this, I’ve just returned from assisting the staff, walking year 6 to the nearby Netherclay Community Woodland, where they planted trees and scattered ‘yellow rattle’ seeds. In all, about 2 hours of healthy educational fun, whilst leaning much about the environment in which they live. It was lovely to see how engaged the children were.
My school is lucky to have these kinds of facilities close at hand, others are not so fortunate, this has to change.

We must offer every child an equal opportunity to learn, not just the better off, but every child from every type of upbringing.

For clarity, I’m certainly not against private education, in fact here in Taunton Deane we have many world class facilities, crucially employing thousands of staff from the local area.

We need investment in our Schools and we need it yesterday.

Thank you all.

And finally, I’m a very lucky man. Not many people find their true ‘calling’ in life, well I can honestly tell you that I have and it’s all down to your amazing support, both prior to and since becoming elected as an Independent County and District Councillor, thank you.

People often wonder why I never take a day off, it’s true, I’m ‘on it’ 7 days a week, not even a holiday.
Yes, like everyone I get tired and yes, I take ‘time out’ each day to relax, but I feel a need to give my all to those that took the trouble to vote for me.

It’s different for those in a political party, as they never know whether people actually voted for them personally or for their party. As an Independent, I know that each valuable vote that I receive, is because you believe in my ability to represent you and it’s very hard to explain how humbling that feels.

Thank you for having faith in me and giving this amazing opportunity. It is my hope that you’ll feel I’ve worked hard enough to deserve your vote again in the upcoming General Election, taking place on December 12th 2019.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me – John@JohnHunt.me.uk

You’ll also be able to find out more and if you choose, you can also get involved in the conversation on my social media offering at Facebook.com/JohnHuntIndependent 

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Best wishes,

John

Vote John Hunt – Independent, serving you, not the interests of a political party.

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