General Election 2017: North Thanet candidates in the spotlight

General Election

In just days voters will be going to the polls to cast their ballot for the June snap election.

In Thanet there are 13 candidates vying for the two seats in the constituency.

The Isle of Thanet News asked all the candidates to tell us about their priorities for the north and south of the isle.

Here are the answers for the North Thanet candidates:


Sir Roger Gale – Conservative

Sir Roger Gale MP

What are your top 3 priorities for North Thanet?

The future of Manston as an operational airport

The on-going regeneration of Herne Bay

Local plans that protect and respect the environment of North Thanet`s Towns and Villages

What are the most important economic factors for North Thanet and how do you aim to boost them? (ie tourism)

The re-opening of Manston airport (leading to resumed passenger services) and the creation of a Thanet Parkway station will enhance tourism as will the on-going regeneration of Herne Bay seafront.  I have consistently supported Quex Park and the revitalisation of Dreamland and the “Turner Contemporary effect” and in Parliament have been and will remain a supporter of the reduction of VAT on tourist-related enterprises.

Manston airport has the capacity to generate up to 10,000 aviation-related jobs within five years of operation (Sally Dixon Report, May 2017) in sharp contrast to the Cartner/Musgrave/Gloag proposals for housing and unwanted additional industrial capacity.

What would you aim to do in regards to housing and homelessness for North Thanet?

There is already an over-provision for housing in Thanet (which is likely to lead to the further re-location of families from the London Boroughs) and an adequate provision in the Canterbury draft local plan. It is absolutely vital that all new housing is supported by appropriate infrastructure – roads, medical, education, police and social services.

We are promoting home-ownership through the creation of more shared-ownership and help-to-buy schemes.

The health service is going through transformational change. What services are priority for North Thanet and how should they be implemented?

We have to both ensure that A&E services are maintained and that facilities such as the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay are used properly and to best advantage. The roles of A&E, General Practice and Community pharmacies need to be better co-ordinated to work together. It is also inevitable, given the expectations that are placed upon General Practice, that more `Estuary View` style facilities will need to be established with a greater concentration of GPs, District Nurses and the supporting infrastructure (Diagnostic equipment etc).

Additionally we have to promote the creation and funding of more `step-down` facilities to release hospital capacity for those who need to be in hospital.

Thanet has one of the highest unemployment rates in Kent. How would you aim to tackle this as an MP?

See above (job creation) together with support for those organisations, which I have consistently backed, providing basic skills and training for hard-to-place would-be employees.

What experience would you bring to the role of MP?

34 years in the job, wide pastoral care involvement, work as the senior member of the Speaker`s Panel of Chairmen in the House of Commons and considerable international and diplomatic experience., Additionally, previous career experience as a Market researcher, Television and Radio Producer/Director and work as a (Voluntary) Trustee and Chairman of significant national and local charities.

Plus life experience as a husband, father (three children) and grandfather( five grandchildren) and a pet-owner (Currently three dogs and five cats, mostly rescued)!

Ed Targett, Green Party, journalist and business owner

What are your top 3 priorities for North Thanet?

1) Inward investment and decent jobs, 2) affordable and sustainable housing, 3) protecting local education and healthcare – local schools face millions in funding cuts even as corporation and capital gains taxes have been cut by £70 billion. Protecting green spaces, creating more by planting thousands of trees and improving kids’ play areas too.

What are the most important economic factors for North Thanet and how do you aim to boost them? (ie tourism)

The visitor economy is huge – Margate is storming ahead at the moment and it’s great that Herne Bay’s annual air show (which brings in about 80,000 people) has got some renewed funding this year. Both the towns suffer from really high levels of empty shops though and I’d love to see a really joined-up push to revitalise town centres and support local businesses; rates and licensing requirements can be a killer and need to be dropped and simplified respectively. There are also a lot of small to medium-sized manufacturers in Thanet that employ thousands of people and get little recognition for this. They provide vital employment and I would like to boost their numbers. I’ve already started writing to green businesses – like those in the wind turbine supply chain – to relocate here, bringing job opportunities and I think there are opportunities to do more with coastal ecotourism to boot.

What would you aim to do in regards to housing and homelessness for North Thanet?

Thanet has 2,420 vacant properties, according to KCC. The Homes and Communities Agency used to run an “Empty Homes” programme that provided funding for councils to convert empty properties into affordable housing. I’d work overtime for renewed funding like this to bring them back into use, including allocating several as homeless shelters. The UKIP council has been selling off public assets including tracts of real estate. I’d stop this fire sale too. (The price of land is the biggest obstacle to councils looking to build affordable housing). Many empty buildings, including several on Margate High Street, are owned anonymously by companies registered in tax havens; something the Green Party would end. I’d love to see our councils in North Thanet leading the way in setting class-leading sustainability requirements for new-builds too; like Passivhaus or requirements to use recycled materials.

The health service is going through transformational change. What services are priority for North Thanet and how should they be implemented?

Protecting QEQM A&E and maternity services and reopening mothballed mental health wards in Margate. The local healthcare sector faces a £486 million deficit by 2020 but cutting local services is a false economy. (I’ve campaigned a lot on mental health care: £12 million was spent by our local trust on private hospitals last year, because we have closed wards here). We need to invest, not divest. For trauma care, patients in North Thanet (e.g. those with spinal injuries or in cardiac arrest) already need to go as far as Ashford and it is vital – public consultation starts just after the election – that QEQM doesn’t get further asset-stripped.

Thanet has one of the highest unemployment rates in Kent. How would you aim to tackle this as an MP?

It has some of the wards with Kent’s lowest life expectancy too and these are connected. Poverty’s an early killer and I think this is a local emergency that’s been overlooked for years. Firstly, as mentioned above, I’d work overtime to create new attractions and business opportunities in North Thanet, from ecotourism to green business manufacturing; there are some fantastic innovative British companies designing and building things like drones for disaster relief, electric motorbikes and tidal array turbines. Attracting them to low occupancy industrial facilities here would be a huge priority for me – I’d go on a national tour to drum up business and investment for North Thanet. I’d a lso work for a more focussed and joined up effort between the councils (TDC & KCC), local colleges and local businesses (I know the latter already work hard to create opportunities and that deserves recognition).

What experience would you bring to the role of MP?

The experience of running a business, and holding institutions to account as a reporter, researcher and consultant – including for a multi-billion dollar United Nations fund designed to bring degraded land back into use around the word. I also bring energy, an ability to work across political divides, an independent mind and the drive that comes when you live in the constituency you want to represent and see the issues on your own doorstep every day.

Martyn Pennington, Liberal Democrat candidate in North Thanet.

An evaluation expert, and  vice-chair of Westgate-on-Sea Town Council.

What are your top 3 priorities for North Thanet?

Let’s face the facts for North Thanet and Herne Bay – we are much poorer and more disadvantaged than the rest of Kent, and after 34 years with the same MP, we need a change of leadership.

This Government refuses to face up to the desperate crises it has created in the public services, and in both Thanet and Herne Bay this is made worse by incompetent local district councils.  It’s a scandal that nurses and teachers are having to go to food banks to make ends meet.

So in my view the next Government should act immediately to remove the 1% pay cap on public servants and give them the respect they have been denied for their work, at the same time by immediately putting 1% on income tax to save the NHS.

The second is to get a deal on leaving the EU which will continue to allow local firms easy and tariff-free access to the EU market by staying in the single market.

The third is to give local shops and businesses (including those wanting to set up a business) a helping hand, instead of seeking to cut the ground from under their feet by increasing parking charges and business rates.

What are the most important economic factors for North Thanet and how do you aim to boost them? (ie tourism)

The more I hear about how this Conservative government has tried to drain money from local government while allowing huge, mainly tax-free gains, for rich individuals and companies, the more astonished I get.

Here in Westgate-on-Sea we have set up a Coastal Community team in order to put together ideas to nurture the local economy, but local government has a key role to play too.  This coast is beautiful and much of its historical heritage is still to be publicised.  Clearly, training local people and helping workers to come here from elsewhere, including abroad, is a necessary step, but we need more accommodation which fits the markets we are trying to reach.  But I also believe Manston should be an asset for the region which is a platform for training local people in high-technology skills, and we should focus on new technologies related to climate change and energy conservation.

What would you aim to do in regards to housing and homelessness for North Thanet?

As more housing has been bought by ‘weekend residents’ and for second homes, we have to take measures to adapt the market so that local people can find housing in their own communities.  I think there should be immediate action to free up housing for local people, in particular to stop developers hoarding land without building, to stop landlords keeping accommodation empty or not repairing it to standard, to encourage self-build housing, and to encourage development of brownfield sites.   We can also go back to giving local councils more powers to fund housing developments where appropriate. On homelessness, we would improve the offer of accommodation by increasing the capacity of supported housing and by extending the Housing First model.

The health service is going through transformational change. What services are priority for North Thanet and how should they be implemented?

The health service is in meltdown, and a Conservative Government for the next five years will probably be the end of it.  Kent has the highest proportion of GPs retiring in the next few years and already we have the highest number of residents per GP.  The first thing has to be to solve this problem.  All NHS staff, including GPs, have been so demoralised by the Conservatives that we have to make their job more attractive.  We should try to ensure that health services are provided as near to people’s homes as possible, since many elderly and disabled residents rely on mobility scooters to get around.  Then we need to stop the reductions in hospital services and improve them instead.

Thanet has one of the highest unemployment rates in Kent. How would you aim to tackle this as an MP?

Thanet’s jobless rate is twice the Kent average and the situation in Herne Bay is not much better. As MP for North Thanet I think the priority will be to work with the whole system from secondary schools to training colleges and employers to identify the problems. I would push for more apprenticeships and better co-operation with local employers.  Incidentally there are some youth organisations in our area which do a great job in helping some youngsters back on their own two feet, which we should do more to help.

What experience would you bring to the role of MP?

It would be a great honour and opportunity to be the MP for this area, I have worked in the UK civil service so I know how Government works, and with my background in evaluation I think I can help to make spending at all levels more effective.  I’d particularly look forward to working with the many voluntary organisations here which do a fantastic job.

Frances Rehal MBE,  Labour Party, an Early Years Consultant

What are your top 3 priorities for North Thanet?

To increase NHS funding, to fight health services at the QEQM and strengthen GP services across the constituency

To flag up huge hole in school funding and the implications for schools across the constituency.

Development of Manston Airport as an airport.

What are the most important economic factors for North Thanet and how do you aim to boost them? (ie tourism)

Increase the numbers of tourists visiting and staying over in the constituency. Promote the excellent clean beaches, nature reserves, Turner Contemporary, Margate Old Town, Dreamland, Herne Bay promenade and others. Market the constituency as an ideal long weekend /week break. Acknowledge the many families from all over London and the South East who visited the constituency when they were younger and would visit again for nostalgic reasons.

Develop Manston Airport as a passenger and freight hub. Market the airport to increase visitor numbers from other parts of the country, using the Turner Contemporary, Dreamland and other local attractions.

Work with Kent County Council, East Kent Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and East Kent College to attract start-up businesses and support economic development and career pathways for those leaving school or college and those who are currently unemployed.

What would you aim to do in regards to housing and homelessness for North Thanet?

I would support the development of housing, especially council and affordable housing so that local people have access to quality affordable housing which is environmentally friendly and cheap to heat. I would emphasise the use of brownfield sites and protect the quality agricultural green belt as far as possible.

I would seek to improve the quality of privately rented homes across the constituency and aim to reduce the numbers of multi occupancy homes especially in the Margate area. I would put forward the need for longer leases for families so that there is more stability and less uncertainty especially for the most vulnerable children and families.

The health service is going through transformational change. What services are priority for North Thanet and how should they be implemented?

Areas in North Thanet have some of the poorest health outcomes in the country. This is reflected in life expectancy levels. It is really important that healthcare services are high quality local and accessible. Transport is a major issue in the constituency, there is a train services between the local towns but the local bus services are generally infrequent and poor. Transport is expensive and a car is essential for many living out in the villages or in the suburbs. Health services such as those at Estuary View were planned but no account was taken of the need for transport links. GP services need to local and accessible. There now appears to be plans to reduce the number of GP surgeries across the constituency and we await further information. These changes would be detrimental.

It is essential that all the main medical and surgical specialism including A&E continue at the QEQM and also at the K&C hospitals so that all constituents can access high quality healthcare in a timely fashion so that they have the opportunity for the best possible health outcomes.

Thanet has one of the highest unemployment rates in Kent. How would you aim to tackle this as an MP?

I would establish a working group which would include all the key agencies, such as the Chamber of Commerce, University of Kent, Kent County Council, East Kent College, Manston Airport, Thanet District Council and also unemployed people in Thanet. Work to develop career pathways for individuals leaving college and seek out volunteering, work experience, apprenticeships and other pathways into employment. Work especially with statuary agencies in the constituency as these are major employers. Agree some targets for establishing employment opportunities and seek out support from local businesses. Develop an urgency in addressing unemployment in Thanet.

What experience would you bring to the role of MP?

I have been a nurse and health visitor and helped people all my professional life. I developed the first Sure Start programme in Kent in the Millmead estate. I incorporated the programme as a community mutual the first in the country. The programme went on to develop four community businesses including childcare, a community café, at out of school and holiday club and a mobile crèche. These provided childcare and employment opportunities for local mothers and fathers. We received many national awards for innovative practice. I was awarded an MBE for services to children and families and I presented the model in 10 Downing St.

In setting up the programme which employed over sixty staff I gained a wide range of experiences including, recruitment, training, payroll, setting up IT systems, team development, office management, delivering a large capital project, child protection, working with the media, parent participation, presentation and evaluation skills. I also led on the development of the local allotment project in Dane Valley.

I have worked in London, Medway, Kent and also in the USA. I have also undertaken study tours to France and New Zealand and won a travel scholarship to Russia. I am a governor at two local schools. I am completing a part time research PhD at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Dr. Clive Egan, UK Independence Party

A Strategy Consultant who has also worked in investment banking, private equity, as a financial journalist for the Financial Times newspaper, and as a university lecturer in business administration.

What are your top 3 priorities for North Thanet?

Firstly, I can speak out strongly for the real Brexit for which our country voted. Only by breaking free of the shackles of the EU can North Thanet truly prosper.  I will do my utmost to further the regeneration of the area, especially helping to get Manston Airport reopened and operational by a suitable company with proven financial resources. London doesn’t just need a new runway; it needs quality airports within reasonable proximity.  Manston already has a suitable runway ready for use and this resource should be utilised. The reopening of Manston would provide a boost to local business, encourage other businesses to move to the area, and significantly add to employment in the area. I would provide any assistance I can with the continued development of Dreamland.  I will encourage other new businesses to start and help them flourish in North Thanet.

Secondly, too many people are unemployed in Thanet and there are presently not enough opportunities for young people. Young people must be encouraged to obtain the best education so they can have fulfilled lives and able to contribute to the prosperity of the area. As a UKIP MP, I would support an educational scheme like Germany’s ‘Dual Vocation Training System’ where students attend classes in vocational schools and receive on the job training at a company. I would also speak strongly for scrapping tuition fees for medical, science, technology, and engineering subjects at college, in line with UKIP’s policy. A better educated young local population will then benefit from increased economic activity in the area and indeed add to it.

Thirdly, North Thanet has an above average share of senior citizens, my own mother included. We have a responsibility to ensure they benefit from the work and other contributions they have made over the years. As a UKIP MP, I will advocate strongly for keeping the winter fuel allowance, free bus passes, free prescriptions and eye exams for those over the age of 60, without means testing, and to keep the ‘triple lock’ on pensions, which means increasing it annually by the higher of inflation, average earnings, or 2.5%.  Also, I would advocate for investing up to £2bn every year in social care, increase the amount allocated to dementia research to £400,000 annually. UKIP is against permitting care workers to be employed on zero hours’ contracts, and insists they be paid for travel time as well.

What are the most important economic factors for North Thanet and how do you aim to boost them? (i.e. tourism)

My family has lived in the area for over three generations, and I feel strongly about promoting all the good things it has to offer.  UKIP’s manifesto provides for the setting up of a new ‘Coastal Towns Taskforce’ to oversee a range of measures to help coastal businesses to prosper. This includes reducing the rates for many small businesses by 50%, and raising funding for arts and heritage facilities. Thanet remains, as it has been for well over a hundred years, a tourist destination and tourism can be revived by encouraging investment and better marketing of the area.

What would you aim to do in regards to housing and homelessness for North Thanet?

There is an increasing need for social housing in North Thanet and my party and I believe social housing should be prioritised for local people. Additionally new housing should be built on brownfield sites rather than greenfield ones.

Some homes in North Thanet are rather shabby and as a UKIP member of Parliament I will fight to give coastal authorities the power to access low interest government loans to buy up and renovate poor housing stock or empty commercial properties to create residential accommodation, introduce minimal standards for properties in receipt of housing benefit. I will also work to make it easier and quicker to get planning permission for housing.

In our manifesto UKIP pledges to build up to 100,000 homes for young people annually. It  advocates the building of high quality, low-cost modular homes that are affordable to average pay earners and sold on a freehold basis, with the cost for a two-bedroom house will be under £100,000. These will be manufactured locally, creating jobs and providing the opportunity to build job skills for our residents.

The health service is going through transformational change. What services are priority for North Thanet and how should they be implemented?

I would support reducing the foreign aid budget and utilizing the money to provide the NHS with an additional £9bn a year. This will lead to a reduction in hospital waiting times. As a UKIP MP, I will fight for at least 10,000 more GPs by 2025. We will increase the number of nurse training placements and reinstate funding for bursaries for nursing and allied health professionals. In our manifesto an additional £2bn is pledged for social care, and spending on mental health services will be increased by over £5m a year.

Thanet has one of the highest unemployment rates in Kent. How would you aim to tackle this as an MP?

I would promote the area as one that is great to do business in, listen to the needs of local business people. Jobs should be offered first to the unemployed, rather than inviting cheap labour from overseas to do jobs British people are able to do. I would promote the education of young people of the area to acquire the skills needed locally. I attended local schools Hartsdown and Chatham house and have benefitted a lot from education and would encourage others to do the same, whether they choose a vocational education or an academic one.

What experience would you bring to the role of MP?

Having been brought up in Margate I am acutely aware of the issues that it faces and wish to be a champion of its revival and encourage investment in the area. As a schoolboy political activist in Margate, I was involved in the plan to seek the retirement of the incumbent Conservative MP William Rees-Davies. I do feel that new blood and fresh vision is once again needed and I am eager to give back to the community that gave me my own start and serve the people of North Thanet as best I can. I have mostly worked in financial services with an emphasis on investment and business strategy. A knowledge and practical experience of the business world, after my love of North Thanet and its people and my concern for the area, is what I can offer.

Rev Iris White, the Christian People Alliance (CPA)

We are not here to preach but to highlight and oppose some serious issues affecting the economy of the UK.  Especially the NHS.  Born 1940 I am still a very proactive member of society.  Self-employed most of my working life. Last 15 years I ran my own health products business, prior to which I ran my own care home for 16 years.  Currently I have secured a voluntary position locally with the PDSA.  I am a community person.

What are your top 3 priorities for North Thanet?

The NHS – as well as keeping QEQM Hospital in focus.  Whilst we, it seems, under the Conservatives, are to expect a new training hospital project in Canterbury, the question of a trauma unit set outside our immediate area, will also be under our scrutiny.  We aim to keep QEQM activated in all areas and this can be done by disarming the Trident project costing millions a year by seeing in place a means of new technology that would in the event of attack, divert a missile into the ocean.  A great deal of funding would then be released that could help the NHS immensely.  Not only this but also opposing abortions – over 186,000 a year – some of which are funded.  A real issue to be opposed is the abortion law.  QEQM is a priority service in itself and it needs cash inflow to update it.

Housing the homeless. – Big challenge but let’s start by looking at the Manston issue versus Westwood.  The land at Manston I personally feel would create a wonderful ‘Bluewater’ style shopping arena and add to job increase.  Incidentally we oppose the zero hours contract currently in use.  Looking at Westwood area it would seem wiser because of the extent of housing already being produced there, to move the shopping areas to Manston as mentioned and  evolve the space for housing.  One idea I have is purpose built studio style apartments which could be rented (or purchased).  These projects are currently running successfully in the market in the Manchester area and surrounding districts.  Investors are making this possible.  However I also feel the Council needs to take on council housing and the studio apartments would be a great way to go.

What are the most important economic factors for North Thanet and how do you aim to boost them? (i.e. tourism)

Mentioned some of the economic factors above.  Tourism for instance would be boosted with a ‘Bluewater’ Style shopping arena.  People will travel for day out trips, industry would be boosted in the catering field as well as other outlets. But again pulling back the billions of pounds spent on the issues already mentioned e.g.

£50 billion being spent on maintaining Trident – divert this into the NHS

Introduce a 5% Turnover Tax ensuring large multiple-nationals pay their way in society.

Ensure benefits for the disabled and mentally ill are maintained and not removed.

Provide emergency benefits for applicants while their claim is being assessed

Reallocate foreign aid to those who really need it – eg refugees in camps – and away from           nuclear power or those countries which persecute Christians eg The £486 million to Pakistan

Support marriages and families whose breakdown is costing the nation £48 billion a year

Have pro-life stance, saving 186,000 babies a year from being aborted

What experience would you bring to the role of MP?

First and foremost I am a Christian and I bring Christian morals to the fore for the good of Thanet indeed, the whole nation.

I am grounded in caring for people.

I began my working life as a nurse so I know the inside of NHS life as well as the on outside as patient on many occasions where I have valued hospital availability and treatment and benefitted from not being ambulanced off to Ashford or Canterbury  in the several emergencies I have personally experienced.

I served a 3 year term on the board of Governors for the South West Ambulance Trust and was re-elected by constituents for a 2nd term. During which time I held the positions of Deputy Lead and Lead Governor having won the respect of my peers.

I hold a BA degree in theology and pastoring etc.

I am ordained.

I am also a qualified Nutritional Therapist; A qualified Bereavement Counsellor; A qualified Veterinary Support Assistant diploma (O.A. Dip.) Currently studying Level 3 Veterinary Nursing. Completed a course in Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults/Mental Capacity Act/Deprivation of Lability Safeguards/Domestic Abuse and I have also been a hospital Chaplain.

I would like to see younger people follow a similar approach and look at such training courses that are economically viable, in order to broader their own horizon maybe to the level of self-employment

I am still a member of the University of Life.

I currently write for HEART Christian newspaper which has a 25,000 print run and goes out to over 900 churches across Kent and Sussex London and is spreading nationally.