Wellingborough's Liberal Democrat candidate wants to help the town thrive
Increasing social mobility would be the main priority for Wellingborough’s Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Suzanna Austin if she was elected on December 12.
The Higham Ferrers native, who fought the previous general election in the Kettering constituency, wants to help residents of Wellingborough and Rushden to improve their lot if she pulls off the hard task of dethroning Conservative Peter Bone and is sent to Westminster as the constituency MP.
She says despite recent growth there is much more that the area should be striving for.
She said: “Wellingborough is one of those constituencies which on first appearance everything seems not that bad.
“But when you dig down you find there are some areas where Wellingborough is doing worse than the national average.
"A lot of people are living on low wages which are below the regional and national average. We don’t have a tertiary education system and the levels of people going on to higher education qualifications. It is all about social mobility and enabling people to reach their full potential."
In order to make this social mobility shift she says the answer is learning from other areas which have best practice and making more of the areas close connection to areas of innovation such as Cambridge.
She said: “ We need to get back to having areas of excellence. We have been allowed to languish in the middle. Now is Wellingborough’s time to grow, as its people deserve better.”
The small business owner decided to enter politics four years ago after going to vote at a local town council election and only having the option of opting for one political party.
She said: “There seemed to be a lack of democracy at that level and I know something had to be done. I couldn’t just expect someone else to do it and so I had to do it myself.”
The candidate, who has lived in Higham for the past 12 years, thinks Parliament needs to be made up of a mix of people that is more reflective of society rather than the ‘upper class, public school educated, males’ and as a woman with a disability -she is hearing impaired- she thinks more people like her are needed.
As a Liberal Democrat she is obviously a remainer and thinks remaining in the EU is crucial, especially for the Wellingborough businesses that could be affected by the UK leaving the EU.
But she says it is local issues that people want to speak to her when she is out on the campaign trail.
She said: “It is about the cuts in the local funding. The county council is a big issue. Residents are experiencing services that have been cut to the bone, in areas such as adult mental health. There is a big feeling of resentment and what people are concerned about are their day to day lives.
"I do think the Conservatives have failed in Northamptonshire, both locally and nationally.”
Homelessness is another issue on her agenda - the numbers of rough sleepers in the town has been rising rapidly in recent years.
She says the Liberal Democrat pledge is to get rid of homelessness in five years and says a plan to build 100,000 affordable homes nationwide is part of the solution. The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to pay people their universal credit benefits within five days rather than the long wait that many have experienced and which has pushed people towards food banks and debt.
Szanna Austin will be appearing along with the other candidates at a hustings being held tonight (Dec 4th) at the Park Road Baptist Church, Rushen at 7.30pm and another tomorrow at Glamis Hall in Wellingborough on Thursday (December 5th) at 7.30pm.