Lib Dem candidate Hannah lives in Faversham and is married with a young family. She runs a vegan catering company and also works in Furlongs pub.
In May’s local elections she won seats on both The Faversham Town and Swale Councils and she worked actively in both roles with a refreshing degree of transparency. A passionate and well-liked person who genuinely cares about Faversham, she would be a loss to our local councils if elected as our MP.
Interviewed by the Eye however, Hannah struggled to defend the Lib Dems’ use of dubious and widely condemned bar charts to exaggerate their local popularity or explain convincingly how the £50 billion extra money the Lib Dems have promised to spend, if we remain in the EU, would actually become available.
ANSWERS TO OUR QUESTIONS
What is your vision for the Future of Faversham Creek?
I recognise the huge importance of the creek to the Town and the creek’s amazing heritage. I would love to see the bridge being swung. Faversham is a heritage-rich town and a revitalised creek can only enhance our attraction for visitors.
How would you help new small business establish themselves in Faversham and existing ones to survive?
Small businesses keep our towns vibrant and are an important part of our local economy. With business rates as high as they are, many are being forced to close. The Lib Dem manifesto pledges to replace business rates with a Commercial Landowner Levy, shifting the burden of taxation from tenant to landowner. It also includes a pledge to create a ”start-up fund” to help new enterprises in their first weeks.
The area also needs low cost starter units, small affordable premises that could be used for a variety of purposes.
As an MP, I would support the work of trade associations and other organisations that promote and strengthen business relationships within the Borough. We need to improve active transport links across the area so residents are able to access businesses safely and without the use of cars where possible.
I would encourage residents to shop locally and independently, empower our local business community and do everything I can to promote the area as a tourist destination.
What are your proposals to improve local policing in the town?
The Lib Dem manifesto pledges £1 billion in local community policing, this equates to two police officers per ward in Faversham. We would also scrap the position of Police and Crime Commissioner and replace it with accountable police boards made up of local councillors.
How would you control unsustainable future housing developments in Faversham and surrounding areas?
Firstly, I would lobby the Government to allow freedom of flexibility in decision-making for local authorities. Housing targets should be needs-based and achievable. At present, local authorities are bound by targets that do not promote sustainability and ignore our dire need for social housing. It is vital to be able to insist that before houses are built, the infrastructure to support them is provided in advance. This includes schools, medical practices and road infrastructure. A holistic approach is needed to balance housing needs with our obligation to prevent climate damage and biodiversity loss.
We need to build community not just houses. Part of this may also be making sure that local jobs come hand in hand with new developments so we can boost our local economy.
What is your position on the proposed solar power station on Graveney Marshes and why?
It is a totally obnoxious proposal and I have actively campaigned against it. I recently helped write the Town Council’s letter of objection to the development. Whilst we must move towards sustainable energy generation the scale and siting of this scheme is unacceptable. It entails the industrialisation of an important biodiverse area of landscape, would necessitate around 80 lorry movements a day for over three years along small rural roads unsuitable for such heavy traffic and the battery storage facility presents serious pollution risks.
What would you do to improve the lives of residents on low incomes?
I and my family have only recently stopped receiving Universal Credit. We found it incredibly difficult to manage and only coped with the nine-week initial delay before receiving our first payment because of family help. The need to have to travel to Sittingbourne to deal with the paperwork was time-consuming and involved extra expense.
There needs to be a Universal Credit satellite service in Faversham to make it easier for local people to access the benefit.
Housing is a real problem, we need to look at the private rental market. Over the past six years, the average rent of a three bedroom house in Faversham has risen from £700 to £1,400 a month while income has barely changed.
Also, the so-called affordable housing built by private developers needs to be made genuinely affordable.
Would you put Faversham’s interests first if it meant voting against your own party?
I think a lot of people want their local MP to be transparent and forward-thinking about their constituent’s concerns. The MP must weigh up the needs of Faversham against the wider constituency but I believe that our party allows for room to disagree with national policy.
What are your thoughts on tactical voting in this and the Canterbury Constituency especially where a vigorous Lib Dem campaign could help the Conservatives regain the seat?
We all deserve to be able to vote for who we want to represent us nationally. Rosie Duffield who won the seat for Labour at the last election in Canterbury is able to look after herself and though I accept that she works hard to promote the pro-EU position, her party is not committed to remain. The Lib Dems did approach the Labour Party to collaborate in appropriate constituencies but were rebuffed. It is not fair that we should be blamed for making it easier for the Conservatives to win seats.
Where do you stand on the demise of Faversham’s Crown Post Office?
I really know little of the details about this. I would like to learn more about it.
If successful, how would you be able to juggle your existing commitments on Faversham and Swale Councils with the job as an MP?
If I was elected to parliament there would have to be a by-election for the Town and Swale council seats I currently occupy.
Local Lib Dems, in particular Antony Hook, have been widely criticised on social media for using Faversham’s Remembrance Day ceremony as a photo opportunity. What is your response?
I was asked to lay a wreath by Swale as the representative of my ward. I am aware of the criticism about Antony Hook’s behaviour at the ceremony but I think you must ask him about it, I do not think he is an opportunist and is in fact an honourable man.
Saving a £50 billion ‘remain bonus’ by not leaving the EU
Investment in public services
Save the NHS
Properly fund schools
Bold action on the climate emergency