Chair of the Faversham Labour branch for the last three years and a popular and active campaigner on local issues Jenny Reeves has lived here most of her life.
The 43-year-old mother-of-three lives on the Lower Road social housing estate and is a full-time carer for her husband Gareth, who lives with disabilities.
“As a family, we have felt at first-hand the brutal effects of the austerity programme pursued by recent Conservative governments and their coalition partners,” says Jenny, who often helps neighbours access help and advice. “I’ll argue their cases with the DWP and corrupt private landlords, because somebody has to. You learn to be an expert in all sorts of matters because you never know who’s going to knock at your door next!”
This is the first time Jenny has stood for parliament. In the last two general elections in 2015 and 2017, Labour’s candidate was Michael Desmond a councillor from Hackney, North London.
ANSWERS TO OUR QUESTIONS
What’s your vision for Faversham Creek?
I’m a large supporter of Swing The Bridge and Faversham Creek Trust and would love to see the basin opened up and the creek brought back to its glory days. I remember from my childhood cars being stopped so boats could go through the bridge. I want to see it dredged, in full use and completely back to how it used to be.
What would you do about air pollution in Ospringe?
Increased use of public transport is priority number one. You cannot improve air quality unless you reduce car use. We cannot do an awful lot about the lorries – the depots are where they are – and an A2 bypass cannot happen unless you are going to knock down houses or a church, pave over agricultural land or a natural park and accept more development, which people don’t want.
We need proper, joined-up cycle routes, unlike the current ones which go nowhere, so people can feel safe cycling around town and 20’s Plenty, so the traffic’s going slower.
Cleve Hill solar power station: good or bad?
The local Labour branch were the only political party that made an official objection and we have been present at every single stage of the process. It’s too dangerous, it’s in the wrong place and it will devastate our environment. This is about profit, not power.
What’s your policy in housing and development?
Towns grow but the rates that developments are going up and how they’re going up is concerning. This town does not need four or five bedroom houses, we need one or two bedroom starter homes, social and properly affordable housing.
Developers build the most profit-making homes, not what’s needed locally. And Section 106 money (developers’ contributions to local authorities) is released in dribs and drabs so if they’re not selling, our local area is not getting that money.
How will Labour improve local policing and tackle antisocial behaviour?
We’ve got a difference between recorded crime and worrying but unrecorded crime. Where I live is not the most affluent area and I see it at first hand. We need to properly fund our police force and restore our police station. It’s an absolute nonsense to say a town this size should not have a local police force.
Tactical voting: Why vote Labour over Lib Dem in Faversham?
In the last two general elections Lib Dems got about six percent of the vote here, including in 2017 which was after the referendum. By standing a candidate the Liberal Democrats split the remain vote, propping up a Conservative victory.
This election is not a Brexit referendum. It’s about ending Austerity and undoing ten years of horrific damage, including damage done by the Coalition government the Liberal Democrats were a part of. They cannot walk away from their history or wash their hands of the 120,000 deaths caused by Austerity.
How would you help local businesses?
Small businesses are vital. But we should also be encouraging large employers to come into Faversham. We are losing way too many shops. Independent shops are fantastic but they struggle without the anchor shops, the chains that bring people in to spend money. People go out of town to visit shops like Primark or Wilko, so we need a mix. We’ve lost Iceland and shops in that part of town have already said their footfall’s down. That’s a really disturbing trend.
How can Faversham solve its healthcare crisis?
Unfortunately we don’t have enough GPs. It’s not just a Faversham crisis, it’s a national, NHS crisis. And we have to be honest about the NHS funding shortfall. We now have the longest waiting times in NHS history for all treatments, not just A&E.
At Newton Place, they have a walk-in clinic. That is one of the longest queues you will see, on a daily basis. I’m hearing from people that are waiting two months to get a GP appointment. Two months, in both Faversham surgeries, for critical things like a lump! Anybody can say”let’s hire more GPs” but the reality is our health centres are already trying to do that. But they can’t hire what isn’t there.
How would you improve life for low-income families and pensioners?
I am on a low income and the first problem we’ve got is that Austerity is still in place. Pensioners, the sick and people on zero hour contracts are still struggling. Universal Credit is the most heinous welfare reform this government has ever done. That will be scrapped by Labour and replaced with a proper system to help those people who need it most. Pensioners should not be forced to choose between eating and heating and I know too many in that position.
Let’s raise the minimum wage. Let’s get secure tenancy for people in private rented accommodation, free prescriptions and free school meals: simple, small things that can improve people’s lives a lot.
I don’t remember foodbanks ten years ago. Now we’ve got a foodbank, a school uniform bank and a baby bank here in Faversham. Today 75 percent of people who use food banks are in work. That’s ridiculous. People are in such dire need.
What’s your position on the loss of Faversham’s Crown Post Office?
I singlehandedly led the campaign to save it and was very cross that not one of the town councillors turned up to my public meeting. Not one. Nobody from KCC turned up. Our MP didn’t turn up. But town people came and I took the petition to 10 Downing Street. Our party, if in Government, will be restoring Crown post offices to high streets.
That all sounds great but I can’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn because The Sun reckons he’s a terrorist-sympathising anti-semitic communist who refuses to sing the national anthem or trigger nuclear armageddon...
Because the Conservative Party has lurched quite far right, in comparison the Labour Party looks quite far left. But our policies haven’t actually changed that much at all.
We’ve done experiments where people read the policies without seeing the Labour logo and say “I’d definitely vote for that party”. And as soon as you tell them those are Labour policies, they’ll say “I couldn’t vote for Labour”. Because there’s been so much negative propaganda. It’s destructive because people are essentially shooting themselves in the foot. They would rather not have policies they love than vote for a party that has been demonised.
Abolish university tuition fees
Introduce an immediate Real Living Wage
Kickstart a Green Industrial Revolution
Fix the housing crisis
Affordable housing to rent and buy
Final say on Brexit
Stop Boris Johnson’s disastrous
sell-out Brexit deal
Climate action plan
Free national education service