Samantha George is the Conservative party candidate for December’s general election
Tell us about yourself and why you’re standing for election
I have always had a huge attraction to Chester. I first applied to be the parliamentary candidate here in 2007, the time was Stephen Mosley was selected. I love the city, the architecture, the history so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to stand.
What are your top 3 priorities for Chester if elected ?
Its very much about what I call “cherish Chester”. This is a new campaign to promote and protect our heritage, working with community groups, across local government, other MPs, to really get a big change in how Chester is perceived. A lot of people have said to me they love Chester but we should be attracting more people into the city, more jobs, more cultural opportunities. One of my top priorities is helping us cherish and protect what we’ve got.
The protection and expansion of jobs is really important as well. The government has got a record number of people into work at the moment .
Thirdly its about maximising investment in our public services, in our great NHS, in our police, our schools. Underpinning all that is a strong economy which cant be taken for granted.
How would you describe Chester to someone that doesn’t know it ?
I would say, its absolutely dazzling. Its a huge gem in the country. I’d encourage lots and lots of people to come and visit ,theres so many things to do. Days out, cultural opportunities, great shopping. Theres more to be done on the shopping front, with our high streets, a lot of people have expressed concern to me about that . Its a huge and wonderful place to be, I now live in Vicars Cross and I’m enjoying living in the city and being part of the community.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Chester ?
I think at the moment its just wandering around, seeing all the buildings and working through the architecture. That’s my favourite private pastime, but at the moment its just talking to lots and lots of residents about what they want to see for Chester. I’m doing that day in. day out, with 4 weeks to go!
We have seen a huge increase in homelessness in Chester over the last few years. What policies/funding would you put in place to address the issue?
Firstly I think its sad to see. The causes are very varied. it often starts in late teenage years, where there can be issues with family. But its not just that, there can be veterans having issues. I think its hugely important to work with the council, I know the council is saying it hasn’t got enough provision for people. I know theres been some changes and closures in previous provision. The council needs to do what it can to support people, and I think its hugely important that the community reacts with compassion to people on the streets.
What’s your view on the ongoing homeless protest ?
I think their numbers are lessening over time. Moving into the top of building the council’s homeless service was quite a big message to send out . I think its encumbent on the council to do what it can to find more spaces for people as soon as possible.
How safe is Frodsham street ?
I’ve had quite a few people commenting on that. Shared spaces are interesting, theres always a bit of nervousness about using them. I’m not sure its gonna change , I think its gonna be debate that will continue for some time !
How did you vote in the EU referendum and what do you think the impact of Brexit will be on Chester, positive/negative/both ?
I didn’t campaign for either side and I felt very torn. My head said remain my heart said leave. It was a very difficult decision , I did vote remain. I found as the result came in that I was deliriously happy. I have been very clear that I will vote to leave the EU and support Boris Johnsons Brexit deal.
I think we have huge opportunity. We will start trading as global Britain. We will have the opportunity to strike our own free trade deals around the world. Theres already going to be huge range of goods that will be able to travel tariff free under the Governments provisions. I think we have the opportunity to really attract people into the UK, and our region. We have some great transport connections, and great skills that can be maximised. In my day job I’ve been supporting businesses moving to the UK. In Chester we have a huge opportunity to maximise that. I’m absolutely not scared of the future, I think theres huge optimism we can bring to a post Brexit world. The biggest thing business wants to see is certainty. My belief is the faster we get this settled the better .
What can Chester improve on ?
Cherish Chester is about a big vision for our future. A lot of comparisons are made to York with its big attractions. I want to work with all the agencies and look at what we can bring into Chester. Storyhouse, started under the previous Conservative administration has been a huge success, but theres more we can do, to maximise the gem that is Chester
Do you support the Northgate development ?
We are waiting to see the papers on this. Theres a question about the money, the private sector tenant, House of Fraser hasn’t worked. Theres more detail we need to see on the scheme. Its taken a lot of time to get here.
I think its a good move (new market/cinema) , but the questions are how is it going to be funded and is it a viable scheme ?
How would you describe the record of Chris Matheson ?
Chris is a nice guy, but people have asked me , “what has he actually achieved?” In addition the big question is how can he still be supporting Jeremy Corbyn with everything that’s happened in the Labour party, a lot of moderate MPS have left. He’s going to be Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate in Chester. A lot of people say they dont like that, and I think theres a lot of questions there.
How do you see the future of Chester as the high street declines, parking issues, congestion etc continue?
This is where the vision comes back in. You can have a vision in bits and pieces or you can have an overarching vision. With more jobs, economic development, this brings the pressure on housing and infrastructure. We know Boris Johnson is hugely committed to infrastructure with the things announced yesterday, with an increase in green charging points and a commitment to put more capacity into the system, that would boost Chester’s green credentials. I’d like to see a return of “free after 3” and I’d suggest the council turn that on for electric vehicles.
Our small independent local businesses are crucial. We have funding for the rows which will help improve Chester’s image. Cherish Chester will improve the vibrancy of the city centre. I think theres also a need for residents to publicise small independents. We have small business Saturday coming up soon.
What qualities does your party leader have to be a good Prime Minister ?
He’s a strong leader with a string vision for the country. We’re putting 33.9bn into our NHS, 20,000 police back on the streets… I think he’s got an army of people like me who are optimistic and enthusiastic about the future.
Why should people vote for you ?
Its a clear choice , who do we want as Prime Minister, is it Boris Johnson or is it Jeremy Corbyn ? Jeremy Corbyn is a huge threat to our security and economy. A Conservative majority government will deliver for the UK. My 6 point plan is what I will action if I get in , and I aim to be a strong voice for all of Chester.
Is there anything you’d like to add ?
There are a tremendous number of people in the city with good will and huge fans and huge believers in Chester. I’m hugely optimistic about the future of Chester. We need to rise above politics and see what we can actually get done.
Thanks to Samantha George for her time