Election 2019

General election 2019, Your Questions Answered: Focus on Heath Town

Image caption The Heath Town Estate celebrates its 50th birthday this year

The Heath Town estate in Wolverhampton was officially opened in April 1969 by Princess Margaret and this year marked its 50th birthday. It's currently undergoing a £120m regeneration with old shops and the health centre being knocked down and new homes and play areas planned.

We asked people living and working on the estate, which forms part of the Wolverhampton North East constituency, what issues matter to them.

Image caption Doreen Cross wants to know what the parties plan to do about health care provision

Doreen Cross said residents were awaiting the development of a health centre at the site of the former Duke of York pub. She asked: "Where do you stand on healthcare?"

Andrea Cantrill (Green) said: "The Green Party would increase funding for the NHS by at least £6bn per year until 2030 (a 4.5% increase on the 2018/2019 NHS budget), and a further £1bn a year in nursing higher education.

"We would also... address the issues such as long hours and low morale that make recruitment difficult."

Vishal Khatri (The Brexit Party) said: "Our NHS needs to be free at the point of use and be available to all.

"My father suffered from bowel cancer a few years ago and I sincerely owe the doctors, nurses and staff a great debt for him being alive today."

Richard Maxwell (Liberal Democrat) said: "We will... invest £35bn in health and social care from a penny on income tax to build a brighter future for our health services.

"The NHS can only be protected if we stop Brexit."

Emma Reynolds (Labour) said: "Labour will give our NHS the investment it needs after years of neglect.

"We will improve stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates by providing earlier diagnosis and improved screening rates and we will recruit and retain more doctors and nurses."

From the Conservatives there is a pledge to increase the number of nurses in the NHS England workforce by 50,000 by 2024/2025.

Boris Johnson has promised the creation of 50 million more GP appointments.

Image caption Tariq Ali runs a takeaway in the Heath Town area

Tariq Ali, from Chick King Fish Bar, said crime was a real problem in the area. He wants to know what the candidates will be doing about it.

Ms Cantrill said: "We aim to halve the prison population, breaking the cycle of reoffending, reduce the number of short-term prison sentences and replacing them them with restorative justice projects that have a better record of preventing reoffending."

Mr Khatri said: "We need to invest in our policewomen and policemen in our area.

"Whilst national security issues are extremely important and the police is doing a fantastic job nationally, our local policing presence has suffered... we need more police walking our communities."

Mr Maxwell said: "We will invest an extra £1bn a year to a) give forces the funding to recruit two extra officers per ward (20,000 total) and b) fully fund an immediate 2% pay rise for police officers... to make sure they have the support to protect our communities."

Ms Reynolds said: "The Tories have chosen to protect investment in low crime areas like Surrey while leaving urban areas like Wolverhampton to bear the brunt of the cuts.

"Labour will recruit thousands more police officers and I have campaigned in favour of tougher sentences for knife crime."

The Conservatives' manifesto promises 20,000 more police officers. It said it would introduce tougher sentencing for the worst offenders and end automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes.

Policies include a review of the "relationship between the government, Parliament and courts".

Image caption The Heath Town Estate in Wolverhampton, where old shops are being knocked down and new homes built

Ron Callaghan volunteers at a homeless centre in the city and wants to know what is going to be done to tackle homelessness to get people off the streets and into safe accommodation.

Ms Cantrill said: "Homeless people should never be denied accommodation because of a failure to comply with a treatment programme.

"We must ensure that there is joined-up provision of services, and that this extends to related services such as the NHS, immigration services and the armed services."

Mr Khatri said: "Homelessness is a massive issue, this is why we need to get Brexit done and divert the resources saved to our own people.

"Cancel HS2 and [halve] foreign aid budget. Imagine what we could do with an extra £7bn of foreign aid budget spent on our own social issues."

Mr Maxwell said: "[We would] a) introduce a 'somewhere safe to stay' duty on local authorities to provide immediate emergency accommodation to anyone at risk of sleeping rough, b) repeal the Vagrancy Act, so rough sleeping is no longer criminalised and c) legislate for longer-term tenancies and limits on annual rent increases."

Ms Reynolds said: "Labour will stop housing costs running away from benefits by scrapping the bedroom tax and increasing housing benefit.

"We also have ambitious plans to build 100,000 council houses, this will be one of the largest house-building programmes since the end of the Second World War."

The Conservatives said they would "commit to renewing the Affordable Homes Programme", a "key part" of their "efforts to prevent people from falling into homelessness, along with fully enforcing the Homelessness Reduction Act".

They said: "We will also end the blight of rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament by expanding successful pilots and programmes."

  • The candidates standing in the Wolverhampton North East constituency are: Andrea Cantrill (Green), Vishal Khatri (The Brexit Party), Richard Maxwell (Liberal Democrats), Emma Reynolds (Labour) and Jane Stevenson (Conservatives)

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