Thursday, 17 October 2013

Sam Alexander Richardson Conservative Candidate for local By-Election answers our Questions

1. What assurance can you give that you will listen to, and respect, the opinions expressed by members of your electorate ? If elected, do you undertake to represent these views in any and all council discussions, whether or not they may conflict with any ‘party’ view ?
I think it’s hugely important to listen to the views of residents. It has to be the top priority. With previous experience in journalism, I’m confident I can gauge opinion well and also represent it. Studying journalism develops your ability to see both sides – something which I think will make me a good councillor. If elected I would certainly do my best to ensure views are heard and to challenge Labour on policies that won’t benefit local people.

2. How will you increase political engagement and communicate with ward residents?
As well as the usual and traditional methods, I’m pretty proactive online with my website, twitter etc and have already engaged in a few conversations with residents online that possibly wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The two Conservatives on the council have built solid reputations locally through keeping in touch with their electorate – be it through a regular newsletter, surgeries or surveys for starters. I’d look to combine all techniques in order to get in touch with as many people as possible. It’s important people know their Councillor is engaged with what’s going on locally, is sharing local projects with people and is listening to the issues affecting their residents.

3.  Put the following in order of priority, and give reasons. The list is in alphabetical order so as not to show preference: 
city – conscience – national interest – party – ward
This is a bit like asking a baker what’s more important in a cake – the eggs, flour, butter or sugar? The whole point of a councillor is to have the ability to take all of those issues in hand when making decisions. But I think ward and city should be dominating factors in any work a councillor does because local residents are who a Councillor should represent.

4.  Do you believe the spacious argument from the Council that £50+M on a new HQ in Hanley is money well spent? If not, what do you believe would be a better option?
I support the principle of helping businesses develop locally to grow jobs but there have clearly been issues along the way which have caused concern for people, including the funding and budgeting of the Central Business District. The policy being pursued by Labour will only relocate jobs at a massive debt cost to the people of the city. It should be local businesses leading the way in creating jobs, with the Council creating policies to support that across the city. My journalism took me all over Stoke-on-Trent and the character of the other 5 towns is obvious and should not be deprioritised.
At the end of the day, the decisions have been made on this policy and there’s little any individual candidate on this campaign can do to change it.
But the Conservatives are best placed to challenge the current administration on the approach towards the CBD, jobs and economic growth.

5. What would be your priorities for Baddeley Milton and Norton, and your overall priority for the City as a whole?
Being the largest ward in the City, there are scores of issues within each community. This means it is impossible to give just one single, or even just a few priorities, as it will differ for different areas of the ward.

But I know Cllr Jack Brereton has been working hard to deal with a number of road safety issues across the area, so this is certainly something I would like to help him on.
Another issue which I think has been a problem from the Council’s perspective is community engagement. The approach the Council has taken has not done much to help build on what we have in our communities, particularly with Norton Community Centre.

If there was another Councillor to help Jack build on what he has already done locally, as well as challenging the Council to do more to build skills and engage more volunteers, this would go a long way to enabling communities to do more for themselves, developing much better places to live.
For the whole City, I think it’s got to be jobs. If there’s one thing I’d like to do city-wide, it would be to help young people find work and opportunities. I know from first-hand experience that it’s all possible in Stoke-on-Trent, so if I can help others too, that’d be fantastic.

6. What redevelopment/improvement will you aim for in your ward given such plans for the redevelopment of Hanley town centre?
I know that the sitting Conservative councillor already works hard for the area and has been doing some great stuff to make the place look cleaner and greener.
It’d be great to build on that and also see if I can find any great ideas residents have to improve their area and see if they can work.

It’d be great to build on that and also see if I can find any great ideas residents have to improve their area and see if they can work. A big issue locally is the amount of Council owned sites we have that are just being left abandoned. Across the ward we have a range of sites like the old High School site in Ball Green, the Norton Activity Centre and the former Groundworks site in Milton Park. These sites have just been abandoned by the Council. They’re not only a real drain on Council resources for security and maintenance but they could be either redeveloped into community use or sold on for development.

There’s loads of enthusiasm within our communities to have more facilities. Having another Councillor to add to the efforts Jack has been putting in, to get these sorted, will make it all the more easier to get the Council moving faster to get these issues sorted.

7. Should you be elected, what would you like to be remembered for come the Full Council Election in 2015, and will you be standing again in this ward?

It would all be worthwhile if there are people who can hand on heart say that I’ve helped them out – whether it’s getting their voice heard, their bin collected or their relative a job. Over the next few years, it’s difficult to predict what will happen in my life. I just know that I’m super keen to help people.

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