Vikki Slade – Liberal Democrat candidate for Member of Parliament for Mid Dorset and North Poole
I moved to Dorset in 1999 to take up a promotion and it’s the best move my husband and I could have made. Settling in Broadstone, we started out family and our business and I became involved with local Lib Dems politics as part of Annette Brooke’s volunteer team, stopping just days before the general election in 2001 to give birth to my daughter Molly – after whom our cafe is named. My mum and step-dad lived in Wimborne until my mum died, and my dad and step-mum live in Corfe Mullen, as do other members of my extended family.
I believe that the Liberal Democrats offer a balanced approach to politics – solid economic policies and a progressive approach to taxation, whilst striving to build a fair society where everyone has the opportunity to get on whatever their background.
I am passionate about people and communities and Broadstone is a wonderful example of this – I love that we all refer to it as a village – with its excellent range of community groups, schools and churches, not to mention a diverse shopping centre – pulling together to create a sense of belonging. As a Councillor in Poole and I hope as your next MP I have been striving to protect and improve our bus networks. I was appalled when More Bus decided to cancel the 3 service and campaigned tirelessly for its reintroduction, I am just sorry that we were unable to include Merley in the revised service and I am pleased that we were able to save the 32 from the most recent set of cuts. Whilst some people suggest that this is not a popular service because it is so slow, it provides a lifeline to people without choices, especially residents on the Fontmell/Steepleton estate. I was thrilled when I discovered that my national campaign to introduce a discounted bus pass for young people (up to 21) was taken up by the Liberal Democrats and is included in our General Election Manifesto, as the only way to secure long term sustainable bus services is to get younger people travelling on them as a matter of habit which will, of course, positively impact on congestion and environmental issues. I believe wholeheartedly in the Concessionary Bus Pass for older people, but this are pointless without the buses to use them on!
As the mother of 4 children, you won’t be surprised to hear that education, training and jobs are central to my campaign. I have promised Annette that I will continue to fight for the F40 funding formula that will see us get a fairer share of money for our schools and I am concerned about the issues currently facing Broadstone Middle School and the possible changes to the age of transfer for Corfe Hills School.
Only the Liberal Democrats have promised to maintain the funding for education from nursery to college, extending pupil premium to nursery age children and allowing all 2yr olds access to free nursery care. We have also legislated to all families (earning up to £150k) can get £2000 worth of tax free childcare for school age children, both after school and in the holidays. I want to see every child taught by a qualified teacher and make sure that the workload on teachers is restricted so they have time to teach. My youngest daughter has found school much more tricky than her siblings and I want our teachers to be inspired to use their skills to bring out the best in children, use the fantastic natural environment around our community to expand their minds and their horizons.
I have mentored young people at secondary schools around Poole and Dorset for 7yrs and I have employed a number of young people so they can Learn and Earn at the same time and I want to see the opportunities grow for young people – and older people too who choose or are forced into a carer change. We need to make sure that all of our schools are offering access to apprenticeships as well as to higher education so that young people can make the most of their skills.
You may know that I ran the Broadstone Chamber of Trade from 2004 to 2011, championing the protection and enhancement of the high street and the business community. I was part of the Broadstone Christmas Parade team until 2012 and founded the Broadstone Fields in Trust Association, protecting Charborough and Plainfield Farm Recreation Grounds and bringing the community the Jubilee and Summer Fun Days.
Our environment is precious and we need to keep it that way. I have campaigned with Dorset Wildlife Trust to promote the Great Heath Living Landscapes Project, which includes Dunyeats and Upton Heath, which are both areas that I regularly enjoy with the children. I am proud that I led the call on Poole Council to ban badger culling on council land, and have had several discussions with local farmers in the rural part of our constituency about humane ways to deal with the risks of bovine TB including vaccination and to have signed up for a number of campaigns against hunting, snares and unnecessary animal experimentation.
One of the most sensitive issues locally is housing, getting the balance between growing our community – allowing young families to settle here and enabling older people to stay close to the community they love – without overstretching our facilities and impacting traffic. We cannot stand still, but new housing for Broadstone and other communities in Dorset must be sensitive to the environment, in scale and in keeping and with the infrastructure to make sure that the existing residents are not disadvantaged and that new ones have decent facilities too. There should be a presumption of brownfield sites wherever possible and we should ensure that sufficient levels of housing are affordable – for rent and for low cost purchase for local people.
I don’t want to take you through the whole Liberal Democrat manifesto, I am sure that the newspapers and TV coverage, along with the literature coming through your doors will give you all that you need. However, I do want to touch on the NHS and a small number of issues of health about which I am particularly passionate. I volunteered with Annette back in 2000/1 when she first stood for Parliament. I gave birth to my daughter Molly just days before the election and at Annette’s celebration party Annette told me that by the time I had my next child the new maternity hospital would be underway! She is now nearly 14 and we have had a refurbished unit but nothing new yet. I was delighted to be at the opening of the unit and confirmed that I would work hard for the new unit that we all want to see.
Mental Health is the biggest cause of health related benefits in this country and I am really pleased that the Liberal Democrats are the party that are leading the way on this. In Dorset we have an acute shortage of Psychiatric Intensive care beds and currently this means that women are having to be placed many miles from home – some as far as Yorkshire! We also have a crisis in our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and I am committed to ensuring that both of these see real investment so that we can deliver on our promises of short waiting times for mental health conditions.
Finally, with an ageing population, I want to see mush more done for the lonely in our communities and to ensure that we have Dementia Friendly Communities throughout our area. In my business and many others we have been trained as dementia champions and I want people with dementia and with disabilities to be able to access our whole community. I want to make sure that care can be given as close to home as possible by motivated caring staff and that families have as much support as possible, especially at the end of life.
I hope this gives you a flavour of why I believe that you should vote for me as your next MP to follow from my great friend Annette Brooke. I believe that I have a record of delivering for local communities, a passion for the area we all call home and the energy to get things done. I believe that being an MP is a full time job and hope that you will choose me to represent you on May 7th. If you would like to raise specific issues with me please feel free to get in touch via email, facebook, twitter or drop me a line. If you would like to know more about the Liberal Democrats you can find a link to our manifesto HERE.
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
Mid Dorset & North Poole Liberal Democrats
01202 658629 / 07717 358330