Wellingborough's Conservative candidate on crime, health, listening - and Brexit
Wellingborough and Rushden’s long-standing MP Peter Bone hopes he has been doing the job well enough to get returned to Westminster.
After 14 years in the game Conservative candidate Peter Bone still has a thirst for representing the area and has put the Isham bypass and a new urgent care centre for Isebrook Hospital at the top of his local agenda if he’s re-elected.
Top of the national agenda of course is Brexit, a campaign that Mr Bone has become famous for – he often pops up on our TV screens to say why Britain would be better off outside the European Union.
He says it is Brexit that his constituents want to talk to him about on the doorstep.
He says: “The number one issue is just get Brexit done by a factor of 10.”
On the one hand when questioned he appears philosophical about the possibility of Britain remaining in Europe, saying: “If the British people elect a government that keeps us in the EU then that is the will of the British people. That’s why we are having a general election. This is the Brexit election.”
But on the other hand asked if he would campaign all over again for Brexit if the departure did not happen this time he says: “I don’t accept the premise of the question. I think we are going to get a Conservative majority and I think we are going to get Brexit done on January 31.
“Two thirds of the people in my constituency voted for Brexit. I am going to campaign for Brexit and I am going to deliver Brexit.”
The Brexit Party not standing against him – as with all sitting Conservative MPs – will no doubt work in his favour, with Labour’s Andrea Watts, Liberal Democrat Suzanna Austin and Marion Turner-Hawes from the Green Party putting themselves forward to take the seat from him.
But despite a 12,00 majority over Labour in the last 2017 general election he still thinks little can be read into a majority and says he is ‘always worried’.
Asked what his biggest success has been as an MP, he says his Listening Campaign.
He said: “The ability to campaign on issues and get changes for individual people has been amazing. The first thing I can remember was when I got somebody who was going blind and she was told when she went to Kettering General Hospital ‘bad news is that you are going blind, the good news is there is a treatment to stop it, but unfortunately we are not allowed to do anything on the NHS. If go to go down to Woodlands and pay £1,500 for three injections your sight will be saved.’
“We managed to raise money for that person to get the treatment and then I managed to get it available on the NHS. It is really quite pleasing when people come into the surgery on a Friday and we are able to help them. There are one or two cases like that where we have to work very hard at a national level to get them solved.”
He says health has now overtaken crime as the issue constituents most want to talk to him about.
He said: “When I was first elected top of the agenda was crime. But crime has now dropped right down and the number one local issue is health. I was absolutely delighted with the A &E expansion at Kettering.
“The one thing I want to see is the urgent care centre at the Isebrook Hospital. That is the one thing along with the Isham bypass that has been promised but has not been delivered and I feel very strongly that once that £46m hub is done at Kettering – there is no point of having a hub if you don’t have spokes to it and one of the spokes is supposed to be the urgent care centre at the Isebrook. If we had that 40 per cent of my constituents who go to Kettering could go to Wellingborough.
“So it would be a reduction in the number of people who have to travel which would reduce pressure on Kettering and be better for my constituents. That is something I really want to see done.”
What residents will be getting if they vote for Peter Bone is someone on the right of the Conservative Party. He has voted against gay marriage – he says as a Christian he thinks marriage should only be between a man and a woman – and his votes in Parliament include voting for university tuition fees and for reducing capital gains tax.
Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service