I’m a retired academic, and I moved to Beeston eight years ago. My partner, also now retired, came to Beeston as Professor of English at Nottingham Trent University in 1999. One of my two lovely nieces works in Nottingham University. I have family living in France, and in Yorkshire, where I was born, into a mining family.
I first joined the Labour Party in the early 1970s, and I’ve always been a union activist. As an academic in Dundee, Strathclyde and Birmingham universities, I campaigned to make universities serve working people and the local community. When I was Branch Secretary of my union in Dundee, we had a long and successful struggle against major redundancies. Nationally, I was part of the fight against Thatcher’s funding cuts, and I’ve campaigned for access for mature students and students from less advantaged backgrounds, and for equal opportunities. Dundee campus unions, supported by the local Labour Party, set up the first University Labour Party Workplace Branch, and we were privileged to support the Fife miners in 1984.
I know the importance of education. In Beeston North, Conservative funding cuts to schools are biting. High levels of pupil premium, and high uptake of free meals, signal a return to poverty among working families, which Labour will put right. My parents were primary school teachers in the old West Riding, working with local mining families in a seriously poor area. They gave their students the brilliant educational start that all children should have.
Children need secure homes to learn, live, and play. The Conservative-dominated council in Broxtowe has not been building any social housing, and very little affordable housing. On a Labour-led council, my priority will be to make sure there is quality housing, to rent or buy, under fair conditions, for all needs, at all stages of life. We moved into one of the first post-war council houses in our village, when I was four, and it was life-changing.
Health is a great concern for everyone. Canvassing along the Derby Road at rush hour, I’ve experienced the unbelievable level of noise and air pollution that’s a daily threat to the health of residents living along the road. And since I’ve come to Beeston, my family has had a lot of serious illness, of different kinds, and we’ve been very dependent on local GPs, hospitals, and community nurses. As a councillor, I will do all I can to strengthen joined-up local care and support, and to help secure a healthy environment.
I’ve got a small garden, where I relax in between knocking on doors. I’m not very green-fingered, but I like planting potatoes, picking strawberries, and hoping for tomatoes.
I’ve been very lucky. I started life under Labour councils, and a Labour government – and that’s a combination we all need to see again.