Pendle's Green Party candidate sets out her election priorities
The Green Party candidate for Pendle has spoken about why she should be elected as the borough's next MP.
Mum-of-two Clare Hales (33) described herself as "a community campaigner and a passionate advocate for local people."
She will be contesting the seat previously held by Conservative Andrew Stephenson, who will also be battling Labour's Azhar Ali, Liberal Democrat Gordon Lishman and indpendent candidate John Richardson when the nation goes to the polls on Thursday, December 12th.
Not surprisingly, the Green Party candidate framed next month's vote as "the climate election", something she believes is much more important than Brexit.
Clare said: "Brexit pails into insignificance against the backdrop of the climate crisis. We see flooding up and down the country and it worsens every year. We need governments to take action on climate change as it directly affects local communities - it should not be perceived an abstract thing; it affects us all, locally, nationally, globally, every day.
"On this, we also need more investment in proper flood defences for areas which are badly affected by flooding, as a result of the changing climate. If the government will not commit to beginning to sort the problem, they should at least commit to protecting those most at risk - like the people of Earby, Barrowford and Foulridge."
A qualified teacher who has worked overseas, Clare's late grandparents were from Nelson and her step mum lives in Barnoldswick. As a young student, she worked as a community carer in Pendle for some years to pay her way through university.
She added: "I’m very proactive and want residents to be heard. I work incredibly hard in the community to improve services and facilities.
"I believe strongly in democracy and want local people to be more involved in the decisions made about their area.
On the thorny issue of Brexit, which is set to dominate the general election, Clare said she was "leaning towards remaining in the EU but reforming the relationship" - "by having committed, hard working MEPs, not Brexit Party or UKIP ones who refuse to take part in proceedings and are there to frustrate the situation."
Clare also revealed that she voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum but has since changed her mind.
She added: "We have elections so that people can change their mind and let their voices be heard. It is almost four years since we had the vote, we have had two general elections and the route through this mess is a clear as mud.
"The outlying villages of Pendle must not be forgotten. The £3.5m. funding gap for the flood defences in Earby remains unplugged. The government have their priorities wrong and I want to be an advocate for local communities that feel ignored and unrepresented by the current two party system.
"I'd work closely with the Northern Forest to ensure Pendle gets its share of the millions of pounds of funding made available to plant more trees - developing green spaces and giving us cleaner air.
"I’d like to see a proper investment in public transport across Pendle and more broadly in the North, especially in the outlying villages, some of which have lost local bus routes completely or they only run on certain days like in Barnoldswick where key routes don't run at the weekend.
"Lots of local people are dependent on bus routes, I’d campaign for lost routes to be reintroduced and more frequent buses. I’d like to see HS2 cancelled and that money invested in improving the rail network country wide."