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The Candidate Interviews: Nick Sandford - Liberal Democrats (Peterborough)

Nick Sandford (Photo: Peterborough Telegraph)

Nick Sandford, the Liberal Democrats candidate for Peterborough, was previously a local councillor and the Mayor of Peterborough before standing at the general election.

“One of the things that Liberal Democrats pride themselves on is we act as community champions - to engage with people, to inform them about what's happening, but also to get their views and opinions.”

Mr Sandford’s mayoralty showed him “what a diverse and colourful place Peterborough actually is.

“Populations from places like Lithuania, Portugal, Italy all tend to live together quite harmoniously.” 

On the housing crisis, Mr Sandford said: “It’s important that people can purchase their own home if they want to, but we don’t have the ideological obsession that everybody has to have their own home.

“Some people, young people in particular, want to maintain the flexibility, because in the early stages of their career, they might want to be able to move from one part of the country to another, or even going to work in other countries.”

“That’s why it’s important that we make renting homes a more feasible option.”

To do this, Mr Sandford said his party would abolish no fault evictions “that needs to happen almost instantaneously”.

“We would also guarantee that everybody would be able to have at least three years of tenancy, because that at least gives them some degree of medium term security.”

For those who do want to buy their own home, “one of the constraints is quantity of housing, because the thing that forces house prices up is the fact that we that we aren't able to build them.”

Mr Sandford pledged that his party would build 380,000 new homes a year with “10 additional new towns, so that’d be brand new communities that could be made into environmentally sustainable communities.”

Mr Sandford blamed Liz Truss’s mini-budget for higher mortgage rates, and in turn said that the Liberal Democrats would offer “competent management of the economy”.

Regarding NHS waiting lists, Mr Sandford said: “We would guarantee that everybody could have a GP appointment within a seven-day period or if it's urgent within a 24-hour period,” something his party would aim to achieve through recruiting 8,000 more GPs.

“We would allocate £8bn to both improve the health service, but also crucially, to improve social care - any elderly person, any vulnerable person who needs social care would be able to get it free of charge.”

Mr Sandford described climate change as a “really important” issue to young people, and argued that green policy can also reduce household energy bills.

“If somebody’s got a house that’s leaking heat, and they have to turn the heating up, that actually costs them a lot - Scandinavian countries insist that all houses have to be insulated up to a certain standard.

He said the party would restore a requirement on house builders that every new house had to be carbon net. He said it was scrapped when the Conservatives gained a majority in 2015.

“That’s both talking about insulation, but also the roof of every new house, where it’s feasible, needs to have solar panels on it.”

Mr Sandford said his party would offer grants for homeowners to install heat pumps and solar panels on existing houses.

He expressed his support for onshore wind and tidal energy.

The Lib Dem candidate opposed what he described as NIMBY culture, which often stands in the way of local renewable energy projects being set up.

To tackle the youth mental health crisis among young people, Mr Sandford noted: “We want to see a guarantee that every primary and secondary school in the country must employ a mental health practitioner or mental health nurse who can actually deal with the problems as they’re happening.”

He claimed that council funding cuts to local services such as youth services are partly to blame for poor mental health in young people.

“It's important that local authorities are given the funding and the power, because they're the ones that are on the ground and can see what the actual requirements are.”

In terms of education, Mr Sandford stated: “Our vision has always been that we see education not just as something that happens to people up to the age of 21 or 22 - but something that should be a lifelong experience.

“We're proposing to introduce a new grant of up to £5000 that adults, regardless of their age, can apply for.” 

He explained this would be for people who may want to retrain for a different job.

Addressing knife crime and keeping people safe, Mr Sandford said: “There's a number of ways t

hat the police can be encouraged to address it.

“What we really need is more than one police officer - it doesn't matter whether it’s a police officer, or a community support officer, or even even a local authority enforcement officer, but somebody who's working in a particular area can build up intelligence.

“If there are groups of young people in a particular area, that police officer can get to know them, so that means that they will feel more confident in reporting something if there's an incident.”

Mr Sandford was confident that this would deter potential criminals “because they'll know there's somebody in their locality who hears things and will get to know what's. happening.”


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