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Election interview: Judith Bunting

William Walker

William Walker


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Election interview: Judith Bunting

With just two days to go before the General Election, Newbury Today is re-running interviews with each of the eight candidates standing for the Newbury seat that first appeared in the Newbury Weekly News.

Today we profile Liberal Democrat candidate Judith Bunting on her policies and her chances in the upcoming May 7 General Election.

Keep an eye on our website in the run up to the election for all of the Parliamentary profiles.

“I AM looking forward to giving a voice to the people.”

Judith Bunting, a 54-year-old married mother of two, first came to West Berkshire 20 years ago to film for science programme Tomorrow’s World.

Now a householder in the area, having bought a home in Newbury three years ago, the Liberal Democrat candidate is intent on uprooting the Conservatives who have been in control since 2005.

She said that of all the issues she would priorities if elected to parliament: “Education is the most important issue.

“If we can give all of our children the best chance in life they will do better in the future.”

Speaking of the recruitment crisis for teachers in West Berkshire, Mrs Bunting said: “One of the big issues is accommodation and I would want to explore shared accommodation schemes that run in other parts of the country.

“I think getting a scheme like that in place in our area would help retain a rate of good, young teachers.”

Mrs Bunting added that cuts which were being proposed to the schools budgets, including to the Higher Needs Budget, were not the right call.

She said: “It’s not the right place to make cuts. They need to be made, but not on higher needs and not the extreme cuts that the Conservatives are suggesting.

“The Tories need to make cuts from an ideological point of view.

“I think these services are very important and I want to make sure they are well funded.”

On her plans for economic development locally, she said: “I want to make sure that our area keeps the extremely low rate of unemployment.”

Ensuring communication technology for all businesses, particularly small businesses, was also an important issue, together with transport.

The parliamentary hopeful said that public transport services were “fragmented” and that schemes run by both the council and volunteers, such as the Handy Bus, were one solution.

Mrs Bunting also spoke of her party’s U-turn on scrapping tuition fees after entering into the coalition Government.

She said she wasn’t involved politically at this point, but added: “Having children that have been or are going through university, I wasn’t thrilled on a personal level.

“Vince Cable was very straight, though, and he said that pushing through that policy would have cost £11.5bn and in 2010 the country just didn’t have it.”

She blasted Labour pledges to cap tuition fees at £6,000 as ‘a gimmick’, and on the subject of the NHS she said: “Funding is the big issue, we don’t need another reorganisation.

“We are at the moment the only party which has sat down and costed a plan to deliver £8bn by 2020, that’s the amount of money Simon Stevens [NHS England chief executive] has said it needs.

“The NHS is one of the best things about Britain and we need to protect it.”

Mrs Bunting continued: “I was fed up with the established parties in 2010 and my response was to get out and stand up and be counted.

“What I want to do is stick up for the people of West Berkshire.

“The aim is to represent the people of the Newbury constituency and I want to fight for our residents in our area.”

On immigration she said that she supported her party’s move to bring back exit checks at UK borders and she added that for migrants from EU countries it was important to offer the same level of treatment as other countries offer British migrants.

“Let’s be frank,” she added, “if we had enough houses then I don’t think people would be so worried about immigration.

“The issue is a focus for the Conservatives because David Cameron is chasing the UKIP vote and hasn’t got the backbone to stand up to UKIP.”

Mrs Bunting is facing a stiff test to gain election as her main rival, Conservative Richard Benyon, has a majority of more than 12,000 votes.

But she said: “He is the sitting MP so by definition I am the underdog, but he has only been there for 10 years and before that this was a Liberal Democrat stronghold.

“I know that the Liberal Democrat heart of West Berkshire is still alive and well and I am looking forward to giving a voice to the people.”

Also standing in the General Election for the Newbury constituency is Barrie Singleton (Independent), Andrew Stott (Patriotic Socialist), Jonny Roberts (Labour), Catherine Anderson (UKIP), Paul Field (Green), Peter Norman (Apolitical) and sitting MP Richard Benyon (Conservative).

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