Election 2022: Rob Herd Liberal Democrats

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1. Tell us about yourself and why you’re standing.

I’m a firm believer that we have to leave the world in a better state than we left it. I’ve worked all my life to have an impact. Recently, I’m looking at the amount of children I teach who are reliant on food banks and clothes banks and it breaks my heart. People in our area deserve a fair deal and that’s why I’m standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate this time around.

2. What qualities can you bring to the role of MP?

Honesty and integrity. I listen to people and try and act on it.

3. How would you assess the record of the current Government?

The Sunak one? Or the Truss one? Or the Johnson one? The Conservatives have led years of shambolic Government. From Partygate to the cost of living crisis its people in our area who have had to bear the brunt of the Conservatives incompetence.

4. What would be your 3 main priorities for Chester ?

Nationally, we need to sort the cost-of-living crisis before anything else. For Chester, I’d sum it up by saying clean, green, connected.

Clean: Return honesty, integrity and standards to public debate.

Green: Get the sewage out of the Dee, make the cycle routes work, more EV charging points, say absolutely no to any chance of fracking in Cheshire and create a one-ticket integrated public transport plan that is attractive to residents and visitors.

Connected: negotiate with national providers to make sure our communities are connected with fast broadband. Better access to post offices. Better public transport integration between all areas of Chester, to make every community feel part of Chester, not just a select few areas. Faster, frequent, reliable public transport links to the rest of the country. Talk to rail providers to make sure train services in and out of Chester are the best they can be.

5. How would you support constituency SMEs through the economic crisis?

First, I’d encourage the council to designate the Rows as an Enterprise Zone with a robust development plan. That would encourage a lot more enterprise back to the city centre. It’s long been a Lib Dem policy that start-ups have various operating costs paid for the first few weeks to ease the burden of the cost of living on new business starters. The market really could act as an incubator for businesses to branch out and secure premises on the high street once they are established. It’s worked really well for places like That Beer Place and Vin Santo – and hopefully Bookingham Palace. Encouraging hyperfast broadband in the city would mean that those premises could open to a global market, whilst maintaining their independence on the Chester high street.

6. What works well in Chester ?

Chester is a wonderful place to live and the cultural offer that we have is outstanding, thanks to community organisations like Handbag of Harmonies, the Proud Marys, Grosvenor Open Air Theatre and Against the Grain. Then of course, there’s the Storyhouse. Pretty much every Cestrian that I’ve ever met has green issues close to their heart and I love that it’s part of our collective conscience. I’ve never felt uncomfortable walking down the street in Chester holding hands with my partner. We’re a progressive and tolerant city, which is why it would be an absolute honour to represent Chester in Parliament.

7. What does not work well in Chester and how could you improve it?

Chester has been desperately let down by both this Conservative Government and the local Labour Council. We see nationally the Conservatives let down families and pensioners across the area and locally, the Labour Council just don’t listen to residents concerns. As a Liberal Democrat MP I would stand up for Chester and fight for the fair deal we deserve.

8. What steps should Chester take towards relieving the climate crisis ? How would you encourage green investment?

We need to insulate our houses. It’s the best thing we can do to reduce energy prices and therefore reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We should be putting solar panels on every new public building and encourage community sourcing of renewable energy.

9. Do you support sending asylum seekers to Rwanda?

No. The Governments Rwanda plans are not just immoral – they are utterly unworkable, and incredibly expensive for taxpayers. The current system is broken and consecutive Conservative Home Secretary’s have only made problems worse.

10.  How has Brexit affected Chester and how could we maximise any current/future benefits?

Brexit has affected the entirety of the UK. Now more than ever, in the face of Russian aggression, we’re seeing the benefit of being closely allied with Europe. We can’t afford to be disunited when faced with Putin.

Our ties with Europe have been defined by ideology for far too long now and I can’t help but feel for the businesses who are wrapped up in new red tape and having the boundaries moved constantly because of ideological arguments.

Europe represents our closest neighbours and trading allies. I don’t understand why we wouldn’t want the closest trading links with them. Tinkering around the edges does nothing to help anyone. We have a four step plan which leads to regulatory alignment via re-entry to the Erasmus Scheme, a scheme with which I studied law in France.

11. What are your aspirations for the next phase of the Northgate development?

We need to get a big-name department store into the development. I’d like to see Selfridges or Harvey Nichols there. The loss of Browns was a blow to the city and we need a big draw for out-of-towners, alongside local independents. I love the restaurants that have popped up around Northgate, like Covino, Chef’s Table and Porta, which have really added to the more established places like Chez Jules. I’d like to see that area as an indy restaurant area.

12. How can we better maintain and support the city walls, in particular the collapse of 2020 which remains unrepaired?

Funding applications, grants, national press coverage and fund-raising campaigns. The local MP can certainly raise the Walls nationally to encourage some investment in our communal heritage. We have so many amazing groups in Chester, like Chester Archaeological Society and Big Heritage who already fly the flag for the city. They know what they’re doing and they’re passionate about it. The local MP should be helping to put those groups on a national footing.

13. Dee House remains in a state of disrepair, how could we speed up progress on this divisive issue?

This argument has been rumbling on for years and someone needs to make a difficult decision on it. I think we need to consult on the issue by setting up a “Citizens Assembly.”. The assembly should be tasked with coming up with proposals on what to do with the area, what exactly would need to be done, timescales and how much it would cost.

14. Would you support the Ginger E-scooter trial being made permanent?

Yes – but it needs to be better policed. It should be integrated into the local transport strategy, which would include better cycle routes for the city.

15. Our former MP said he would fight the closure of the Countess with every drop of blood in his body – do you enjoy the same level of conviction?

I have several friends who work at the Countess. My partner is a consultant. I’ve had amazing care from the staff at the Countess. It needs funding. The NHS was at breaking point before Covid. Now, I’m pretty sure the only thing holding the NHS infrastructure together is its workforce. So yes, I will fight for that workforce, because they deserve it. I will fight for it for the community of Chester, which needs access to high-quality health care.

16. What are your views on the future use of Chester Castle ?

I’d like to see it reopened and used as a good tourist attraction.

17. How would you tackle the further regeneration of the rows?

I would get them designated as an enterprise zone and encourage independents to set up there, taking advantage of preferential rates, providing they sign up to a sustainable and ethical code.

18. What support could you offer to Chester FC?

I’d offer full support for the Seals and would definitely shout them out on the national stage. I’d especially like to help with some of the work they do with transition from grassroots to league football. I used to teach at the Liverpool FC academy school, so I’ve got first hand experience of the pressure on young players.

19. What is your definition of a woman?

For most people, their gender matches their physical sex at birth, but there is a relatively small number of people – up to 1% of the population – for whom that is not the case, and I absolutely believe we must respect their identities too.

For decades, we have recognised that some people’s identity does not match the sex they were born with – I can’t begin to imagine how incredibly harmful and humiliating it must be when they are forced to live at odds with their fundamental feeling of identity. For almost 20 years, we have had a system that allows trans people to have their gender recognised in law, with clear safeguards to stop people abusing it.

So this isn’t a new concept, but unfortunately this is part of a wider debate that’s become far too toxic and hostile. We need to get past that, and have a good-faith conversation about ensuring everyone’s safety and dignity.

20. What are your views on a form of proportional representation for Parliament and House of Lords reform?

We need a fair voting system and the abolition of an unelected House of Lords – these are core Lib Dem values which are not held by any other party.

21. What are your views on the cost of parking in the city particularly the new Market Car Park?

This all needs to be looked at in the round & brought under the umbrella of the integrated travel plan.

22. How would you improve transport links to the city?

The Lib Dems have a local plan to bring all public transport in line under the Bus Services Act 2017 and create a one-ticket integrated journey across the area.

23. What are your views on an English assembly/ Parliament ?

I’m pro-federalism. It would mean that wealth is easier distributed throughout the UK, supporting the Conservatives failed ‘levelling up’ agenda.

24. What are your hopes for the local housing market ?

We need to build more housing, because the housing crisis can’t continue. House prices around Chester are so extortionate – we’re just pricing people out. Every house needs to be built to Passivhaus standards and we should be making infrastructure an absolute condition of planning consent. There are too many projects in Chester that have continued on the promise that infrastructure is going to be completed and it hasn’t been. We should be going out to communities to identify areas that would work for new housing developments.

25. How would you tackle the increasing number of street drug/drink users?

I think we’re judged as a society on how we treat the most vulnerable. As a community, we end up in the same situation over and over again if we don’t treat the issues at the source.

26. The Chester constituency has a collection of varied wards , some affluent, some not, how would you bring economic equality to the city so all residents are involved in opportunities and investment ?

One of the Lib Dem’s big ideas is about local government. I’d like to see a Chester City Council that decides on issues relevant to Chester, so that people don’t feel like money is being funnelled out to surrounding areas and so that Chester-related decisions can be made objectively. I’d like to see a return to real decision-making give to local people, no matter where they live in the City.

One Reply to “Election 2022: Rob Herd Liberal Democrats”

  1. Crikey, what a range of good questions touching on so many national, local and personal issues. Great answers from Lib Dem Rob too. Agree 100%.

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