23/10/2011 The Politics Show South East


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There is a new group for Conservative MPs in marginal


constituencies, but will the 40 clubs succeed in improving economy,


health and transport? And the row over Thames estuary


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1776 seconds


Welcome to the Politics Show. Coming up: Health, the economy and


transport, the key areas to improve. According to new and -- and you


Conservative group that includes Amber Rudd. But can the Forty Club


are really make a different? It was quicker to get to London on


a steam train and it is these days. That is a shocking indictment to


the way the transport infrastructure has been left to


fester for Ulster of ready for take-off for just a flight of


fancy? Boris Johnson and many others say


that we need a new airport in the Thames estuary.


Older people in larger homes should downsize, to give young families


somewhere better to live. We will discuss whether this idea would


help to solve the south-east's her sing shortage.


There is a new club in the Conservative Party, but not one


people would clamour to join, called the Forty Group, made up of


40 MPs in the marginal constituency, who narrowly won their seats in the


last election. There are now going to try the -- to raise the issues


that are most important to their constituents.


I am going to speak to Amber Rudd shortly, but first we have been to


Amber Rudd's constituency to find The club that no one wants to be in.


That is the way a new group called the Forty Group describe themselves.


It is made up of the 40 Conservative MPs who won their


seats with the narrowest of min job -- majorities. A high proportion of


their constituencies include coastal towns, and there is more


deprivation and higher unemployment in many safer Tory seats. Hastings


is one of these, and it is in Key Amber Rudd who is one of the


founding members. It identified the top three issues to their


constituents as transport, health and the economy, and it aims to


raise their profile and government. On transport, local commuters


suffered increased train fares, and it is widely accepted that there is


poor transport infrastructure in the end area.


Absolute rubbish. If there was a better train service people mate


used it more. And if it wasn't so expense of. If we had a faster rail


link, it would help develop the area. For the last 20 years we have


been promised the same thing, again and again. We get promised to ring


road, and better transport, but it never happens. And Amber Rudd has


promised better trains. Inadequate transport links in specially to


London, are not aiding economic recovery. It was quicker to get to


London on a steam train than it is these days. That is a shocking


indictment to the way the transport infrastructure of this area has


been left to fester. It is not acceptable, and we will not be able


to implement as much of a success of the regeneration efforts going


on here as we want to, if we do not get an improvement on it. I can see


no better avenue for infrastructure spending in the most deprived area


of the south-east, and improving the road and rail links to.


The second issue is health, the hot topic in the Hastings area. As part


of the government spending reductions, 130 cuts are planned in


the hospitals, which will mean closing wards and sharing maternity


services to others. Her Amber Rudd has said her number


one priority was the NHS, but that is difficult to see. At the moment


she says the cuts are necessary, but we are seeing nurses, doctors


out of jobs, and people in Hastings and Rye saying that we do not want


these cuts. It does not seem that she is listening. We have three


wards closing, but she voted for a �2 billion organisation of the NHS,


which is all going on bureaucracy, not on frontline health care. It


seems difficult to justify that. She wants to campaign for maternity


services to stay in Hastings, but she says nothing about three


elderly care wards being closed and the community.


Last, the group has identified the economy as a priority. Hastings is


the most deprived area of the south-east. Nearly 10% of the


working population in Hastings as unemployed, which is nearly double


the south-east average of 5.8%. And the average earnings of a Hastings


resident is �407 a week. That is compared to 540p across the region.


We are concerned that far from the Government's spending more than


Hastings, it is cutting back. The the investment has come to a stop,


and the council is receiving... We're going to take a 47% reduction


in government support, and that means our ability to do things, to


get people work ready, to develop skills, to offer opportunities to


employers, all that has been reduced substantially. The


Government wanted to do something about jobs and the economy and the


ability of the local authority to intervene, and do something about


the reductions, because they are disproportionately hard on those


areas. The Forty Group have the most


gullible seats for the whole of the Conservative Party, and will fight


to keep their jobs at the next election. But if Hastings is


anything to go by, fulfilling their aims is not going to be easy. The


question is, if Amber Rudd is arguing for policy changes in areas


of concern, will she not be at odds to her leadership? And if not, why


bother with the grip? Let us talk to Amber Rudd. Anyone


who knows Hastings knows it is an Achilles heel for the town. One of


your constituents said that the Conservative lady, that is you,


promised better transport links, which has never going to happen.


Can you prove him wrong? Can you deliver a better link road, better


rail fares? That is what the constituents need. That is exactly


what they need. I can understand why some of them are cynical, when


I went to do my maiden speech in the House of Commons last year, I


found that of the new MP for Hastings in 50 years had made this


claim that they would give transport links. We had a meeting


in Parliament this week to press for making a dual carriageway. We


have put in another application for the link road. We have a good


contribution from East Sussex County Council, and I am not going


to give upon this. I will be as persistent as I can be, to make


sure I can get the benefits for the residents of Hastings and Rye.


you're going to be persistent, should you not be standing up to


the government, to say that the fast rail link from London to


Birmingham, which will cost �32 billion, that money could be better


spent in my constituency? I am looking for new money, I do not see


it as competitive in that way. I recognise what they're trying to do,


build infrastructure in the country over all, but I will fight for


Hastings and Rye. I think it is important to improve the rail links.


The biggest problem we have is the franchise we have at the moment


with South Eastern, does not inspire -- expire until 2014, which


is when we can get a new franchise and try to get real investment,


which is one of the commentator said, we have not had for years. I


will try to change that when we do it the new franchise. One of the


other issues his health. You are on the records seeing changes have to


be made, that cuts are necessary, you are campaigning to save your


local hospital's maternity unit. You see the need for savings but


not if they make you unpopular in your constituents. I am proud that


the Conservative Party is the only one who pledged to raise spending


on the NHS every year. But because we will increase spending, does not


mean you do not modernise. There have to be changes. The changes at


the Conquest Hospital are to do with efficiencies. Let me explain


what that means. The elderly people coming into this hospital, they are


being assessed much earlier. There has been an increase in the number


of beds available to them, so they can go home more quickly. This is


not about cost-saving, this is about efficiencies within the


hospital to help the patients. They are seen earlier by a senior doctor.


Most people do not want to stay in hospital, but they would welcome


these changes. The economy. A massive number of people in


Hastings and the public sector. Do you not have to oppose the severity


of public spending cuts to be seen to beast -- seemed to be taking a


stand for your constituent? Hastings has always had these


problems. Employment in Hastings has stayed flat over the past year,


when unemployment has risen and the rest of the country. That means


there are positive moves in Hastings, where public sector cuts


are taking place and being picked up. I totally disagree with the


comment by the Labour councillor, that this Government is not


investing in Hastings. It is investing in Hastings. We have two


new schools coming, �1.5 million of the Pupil Premium for the most


deprived children. At a charity this morning, there are 80 new


apprentices starting. I believe Hastings will benefit from all this.


You said you wanted to be persistent and pushy. What do you


see the real point of the Forty Group being? Do you not have to


press the government to change policy to make its injure


constituents, otherwise what is the point of the Forty Group? That is a


good point. But one person being persistent can be irritating, but


when there is a group of you, you are likely to get more attention. A


number of us were in seaside towns, of the 40, to make sure that -- and


we fought to make sure there was some fund for seaside towns. Four


months ago, the coastal communities fund was announced, starting next


year, with �100 million in it, which we will hopefully see some


benefit from. To be clear about this, you are quite prepared to be


a thorn in David Cameron's stayed? I am going to make sure to make


sure his policies work to put my a residents first.


A debate is being hosted on proposals to build a new airport in


the Thames Estuary. It is supported by the Mayor of London, Boris


Johnson. Pretty much everyone agrees the airports are becoming


overstretched, but is a new harbour the right answer? Supporters claim


it would give an economic boost to the south-east creating thousands


of new jobs, avoiding the loss of business to rival European will at


airports, like Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. Opponents say that the


cost and environmentally and Patsy it should never go it off the


ground. One opponent is Mark Reckless, who


is here with me. I am also joined with the deputy chairman of this


London Transport. They have just been talking about


the merits of infrastructure projects. Clearly the Conservatives


needs -- the need to betray themselves as the party for growth,


so why erect an opportunity for the Saudis? Because we have not got 10


or 20 or so than �2 billion to spend on an airport. We have a hub


airport, and it is Paris in the sky to suggest we will close Heathrow


off the 60 years of investment and spent tens of billions of pounds


near the Thames estuary. You are arguing for the status quo? Gaudier


had some other idea on -- or do you have another idea up your sleeve?


In this Parliament, we do not believe there is any need for new


runways in the south-east. In 2019, the planning agreement at Gatwick,


that prevents a separate runway there, will run out. Gatwick is


your target? We do not need another runway. The Government will respect


that agreement at Gatwick, of which lasts until 2019. Any promises be


on that? It prevents a second runway until then, and the


government have said we do not need a new one in the south-east in this


Parliament, let alone a massive new airport involving closing Heathrow.


It makes no sense and they wish the Mayor of London would confine his


activities to London. Daniel, you need to sell this to the people of


Kent and Essex. There is already a high level of opposition. Why are


so many senior politicians wrong? Actually I think Mark Reckless has


a very good point. But the fact is the reports are full. As a result


of that, people are not being priced out -- people are being


priced out of the holidays, they're taking the airport business to


Amsterdam and Paris, and with them are going jobs and opportunities


that could be in this country. cannot wait will 2019? Already this


is happening. We are losing jobs and opportunities, and investment


to other countries. We need to act quickly, we need to take some


measures to deal with it. Boris Johnson's view is that we have to


have a new hub airport altogether. If you live in Kent and you go to a


holiday -- on holiday around the world, they have well-functioning


airports. Our reporter is extremely constrained, giving a poor


passenger experience and it is already full. -- hour airport.


People ask themselves why can we not have any accord similar to


foreign countries? And they wonder where the opportunities are for


younger people. A proper report would actually allow jobs and that


investment to flow. -- a proper airport. Where should the new


airport go? Boris Johnson believes it should be a way from properties.


Why can't we have a better airport? Have you heard anyone asking us


that? No. In my constituency, most people are opposed to this proposal.


On what grounds? Because they have moved to a semi- rural lady. The


people who live under the Heathrow or Gatwick flightpath, they chose


to move to that area knowing that they would have an advantage to any


airport close by. But they also knew there may be noise disturbance.


For Boris Johnson to propose putting this outside London, for


which he has no authority, will ruin the lives of many constituents.


I think that there needs to gets serious. It to be brilliant for


economic growth. You need to be looking for big infrastructure


projects and the south-east that could turn the fortunes around.


do not think we have got the money for this. Tens of billions of


pounds for this. We have a huge deficit which the Government is


dealing with. A final thought. The councillors opposed, leading


airlines have opposed. Is it just a vanity project for Boris Johnson?


No, it is not at all. I think it is sad that Marks's we cannot afford


it, because actually you would not need to any government money to


going to this. But it would bring huge transport benefits, real


benefits and road benefits to the area where it was billed, whenever


that might be, and it would bring jobs and prosperity and opportunity.


I apologise for interrupting. Thank you very much for being with us.


There are 25 million unoccupied bedrooms in the UK, yet there is a


massive housing shortage, nowhere more so than in the south-east.


Despite concerns from environment of campaigners that too many new


homes are being built in the countryside, there are nearly


63,000 families on waiting lists for housing. Now there are calls


for one think-tank for elderly people living in big houses to


downsize, to give people somewhere to live. Is that a long-term


solution? With us is Professor Tim Locke -- Professor Tim Luckhurst.


Do you think it is selfish for older people to stay in houses that


are too big for them? It has certainly got people talking. It is


one of the most controversial housing proposals we have seen, and


I think it is ludicrous. How would the young people be able to afford


these big houses? They would not be able to buy them. It has got people


talking. Are there any other bright ideas out there? We need to move on


from this limited political debate. On one hand we have got housing


shortages, but we also have got to protect the countryside. It has


become a real political bind. This week alone, we have seen that


report should have mentioned, we have seen Brighton council


struggling to deal with the scandal of houses that have been empty


since 1979, in some cases. What we have got is a consensus there is a


housing crisis, but political parties that are struggling to do


anything about it. Labour say that they are committed to a decent


house for every person, but neither party seems to have moved us


forward. It is the political cycle. James -- changing housing takes at


least five years. And that means the next general election. It has


been a difficult thing to change. The Conservatives and Labour have


both increased the number of houses when they have been in power a long


time, but both parties are only looking for short-term political


gain at the moment. That is interesting. We have been talking


this morning about the consequences and impact of the marginal


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