Phil answers election campaign questions on the doorstep, part 2
PRESS RELEASE Date issued: Tuesday, 28th April 2015

Phil Wilson, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Sedgefield, shares his views on some of the important questions he’s heard on the doorstep during the election campaign so far.

Will Labour cut the deficit?
The Conservatives said they would get rid of the deficit by 2015, but instead they have left a debt of £75billion. They have borrowed more in 5 years than Labour did in 13. They cannot say how they will raise additional funding for the NHS. They have promised over £7billion in tax cuts but again can’t say where they will get the money. All they’ve promised is more extreme cuts. Labour’s manifesto has no proposal for any new spending paid for by additional borrowing. We will help more people into better paid jobs which will lead to increased tax revenues and lower social security spending. We will make cuts where necessary in a fair way.

What is Labour’s plan to tackle immigration?
Over 99% of the constituency’s population are white British so immigration should not be a significant concern locally. I understand though the national concern. There are more British people living in other parts of the EU than Europeans living here. However, immigration still needs to be controlled. Labour will ensure that people coming here from other countries will not be able to claim benefits until they have contributed to our society and paid taxes for at least two years. Labour will make it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers and we will ban agencies from recruiting only from abroad. Labour will also require that large firms seeking to recruit people from outside of Europe offer a local apprenticeship. And we will make sure our borders are strong with a 1000 extra border and enforcement staff paid for by US-style visa reforms.

What will a Labour government do about bus services?
Buses are the lifeline of our local towns and villages. The lack of bus services is an issue in the constituency from Thornley to Ferryhill, from Wingate to Chilton, from Trimdon to Middleton St George and all points in between. Under the Tories, over 2,000 bus routes have gone, including many locally and bus fares have increased 5 times faster than wages. Labour will give communities more control over the way buses are operated so they can decide routes and set fares.

What will you do about rogue private landlords and helping first time buyers?
Approaching 20% of houses in the constituency are private lets. Most private landlords look after their properties. A minority do not, and cause problems for local residents. I’ve been to many community meetings as MP where private landlords are brought up as an issue. Labour will drive up standards by introducing a self-funded national register of landlords, and making it easier for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes and ensure tough sanctions. Labour will also give councils the power to double council tax on properties left empty. Labour’s sixth campaign pledge is to create the biggest house building programme for a generation with a priority for first-time buyers. We’ll cut their stamp duty to zero for homes worth under £300,000 and secure three-year rents capped by inflation.

What are your views on unsustainable housing development in the area?
There is a need for housing but it must be done in a sustainable way that recognises the ability of an existing community to cope. That is why I was opposed to plans to build 2000 houses at Sedgefield village. 2000 is far too many. However Sedgefield needs some houses and I will work with the local community and the county council to work out the best locations. A similar issues has arisen in Middleton St George where, if all the housing applications go through, a thousand houses could be built over the coming years. That is why I have been fighting on behalf of the residents to stop over development including presenting a petition to parliament and taking representatives from the village to meet with government ministers.