The Labour Party Candidate for Clacton, Tasha Osben, sets out her vision for Clacton and the pledges she is making to the people of the constituency if they elect her as their MP on 8th June.
"I am a local woman, having grown up in St Osyth, went to school in Thorpe and Frinton (Tendring Technology College), lived in Clacton for 6 years and have lived in Weeley for the last three years.
Over the last 7 years our wonderful area has been increasingly neglected by national politics; I am standing to be a local voice in parliament.
My pledges are:
Restore the numbers of police on the beat, making our community safer
I remember - before the Tory cuts saw a loss of 20,000 police officers - when I felt safer in my home because there were officers on patrol and I had the telephone numbers of the local PCSOs. I pledge to get more police on the street. This will easily be funded by a reversal of capital gains tax cuts and will benefit us all, creating jobs in the area and making us all safer and more secure.
Look after our pensioners
I will fight to maintain the Triple Lock and enshrine in law the commitment to raise pensions in line with average earnings, inflation or 2.5% each year, ensure that the winter fuel allowance is protected so that we don't have an elderly population who cannot afford to heat their homes, and keep free bus passes for elderly residents ensuring that our pension-aged population are not at risk of becoming isolated and are free to travel wherever they need to, and do not take risks trying to keep driving beyond when it is safe to do so.
Protect our future generation
We need to insist that schools in our area are properly funded. Schools in our area are suffering from underfunding; class sizes are often much too big, and support for students with special education needs is shamefully absent. Many schools no longer have the funding to refer students for assessment for specific learning disabilities. Shockingly many GPs also won't fund such assessments so children who need additional support to thrive are being let down and held back from fulfilling their true potential. Even when a diagnosis and statement of Special Educational Needs is in place, schools often lack the support and staff levels to provide the help that these children need.
Under current Tory plans our local schools are set to have funding cut even further by millions of pounds, which may mean a loss of 90 teachers across Clacton County High, Clacton Coastal Academy and Tendring Technology College by 2019. This is unacceptable. I fully support Labour's pledge to introduce a National Educational System; an excellent education is no less than our children deserve and a properly funded education system will benefit us all in the long run.
Protect and improve on local health and social care services
Here in Clacton I campaigned against (and condemn) the sale of our 0-19 services to Virgin Care, I am dismayed that we have sadly lost our essential mental health services out of Peter Bruff ward, and I have been actively involved in Labour's campaign to save our Minor Injuries Units in Clacton and Harwich Hospitals (See me speaking at one of the Clinical Commissioning Group's consultation meetings here).
If elected as MP I will continue to fight to retain services at Clacton hospital, and to improve the services currently provided by bringing them back into public ownership and ensuring proper funding and staffing.
I am relieved that this general election is giving voters an opportunity to end the Conservative Party's attack on our priceless National Health Service, which is not any politician's for them to sell; the NHS belongs to the people. Labour have promised to increase pay for overworked and underpaid NHS staff, and if elected as MP, this would be high on my list of priorities for things to follow up on in parliament.
It is so wrong that we currently have skilled hard working NHS staff earning less than the cost of living, working 12.5 hour shifts and relying on food banks because they cannot afford to eat. Theresa May says there are a number of reasons people rely on food banks - the reason is that people - here in Britain, one of the richest countries in the world - do not have enough food to eat.
Make it pay to work!
There are many ways to go about this and it needs doing. At the moment hard working British people are being made worse off by austerity politics. Nobody should work full time and struggle to make ends meet. I will ensure that wages are increased to meet the costs of living - people deserve a real living wage.
I will work to abolish the Tory public sector pay cap - It is quite telling that MPs believed there was enough money in the tax payers' pot to give themselves a pay rise but insist on stagnating the wages of every other public sector worker so that incomes fell below the cost of living. While a million Brits have been forced to food banks since the Tories took over, they have increased their own pay to £74,000 a year and given tax breaks to millionaires worth tens of billions of pounds.
I will also campaign to reverse the Tories' cuts to tax credits that will disproportionately affect working families. These cuts are cruelly and consciously intended to push British families into financial hardship and it is unacceptable. Clacton is one of the most economically deprived areas in the country, our people are financially hard up and if elected one of my highest priorities will be to improve standards of living for our residents by making sure that while the vulnerable are protected from poverty, it PAYS to work and people can get a job that will make them better off.
I am deeply concerned about Theresa May taking us in to the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. We need to ensure that we get a good deal out of Brexit for Britain; these are arguably the most important negotiations we have been involved in in recent history.
Theresa May continues to repeat, "strong and stable" like a broken record but she has not shown either strength nor stability. She has u-turned on practically every position she has ever claimed to have. She campaigned staunchly for remain yet now claims to be all for a hard Brexit (instability!), she has claimed categorically there would be no General Election and then changed her mind (instability again!), and she has refused to go head to head against Corbyn in a televised debate (weakness!) and insists that all journalists' questions are pre-approved before being put to her (weakness!). I do not trust this woman with taking us out of the EU and think we should all be deeply concerned at the prospect. If elected I will be dedicated to ensuring the best possible deal for Britain from Brexit.
Invest in affordable housing and infrastructure
Currently the Conservative run county council are pushing through with housing plans across the constituency seemingly without any thought to the necessary infrastructure being in place to support such developments. Our schools are oversubscribed, our GP surgeries are struggling, we need more jobs to be created in the area and an improved rail service for commuters. The majority of houses being built are either for private sale or private rent at unaffordable rates.
We desperately need an INVESTMENT both in affordable council and social housing AND in the necessary infrastructure to support a growing population. I would like to see a development of council houses or housing association affordable homes with priority going to local people who are being made hard up by living in unsuitable and unaffordable accommodation. I would also insist on thorough planning and investment into growing and supporting our local schools and public services.
Enforce stricter regulations on private landlords
Ensuring that homes across the Clacton constituency are fit for habitation, properly maintained and AFFORDABLE. Through-the-roof private rent is causing our residents to struggle financially and costing taxpayers money in housing benefit that goes into the pockets of private landlords because our residents cannot afford to pay their rent without help.
Fund our emergency services more appropriately
Reckless cuts to emergency services are threatening the safety of our communities. I will fight for proper funding of emergency services so that the hard working individuals who give so much of their time and put their lives on the line to keep us safe are properly paid, in safe contracts with reasonable working hours and posses the support and resources they need to safely and efficiently fulfill their roles.
Topple a political system that is rigged against us!
The Conservatives have doubled national debt, millions of Brits are feeling the consequences of this, being forced to use food banks to survive, but arguably none are feeling this so harshly as here in Clacton. The prevalence of poverty in one of the richest countries in the world and the level of financial hardship locally is shameful.
The Conservatives carry on taking money off the taxpayer but instead of putting it into public services and infrastructure that we desperately need here they give themselves a pay rise and give millionaires tax breaks worth tens of billions of pounds, and they justify it by saying 'we're all in this together' and 'Labour wrecked the economy'; it's an excuse for the hard times they have put the majority of British people through (everyone except the top 1% of wealthiest in the country, who have seen their wealth double!).
I am standing with Labour because we cannot allow the Conservatives to carry on as they have been; they are destroying our public services and our economy. National debt has doubled since 2010, even though funding for vital services has been slashed and pay for public sector workers has been capped so that people are no longer earning enough to meet the costs of living.
We simply cannot allow this to continue. We need to wake up to the lies the Conservatives told us so that they could get into the position to take money from the tax payer and give it themselves in pay rises and their rich friends in tax breaks for millionaires. I am standing in the main opposition party to the Conservatives to try to overcome this rigged system and bring some justice and representation to Clacton in national politics.
I am a local woman committed to bringing about a positive change for the people within the Clacton constituency.
If you have any questions on specific policy areas I haven't covered please do feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01255475660.
I am holding a street stall in Clacton town centre from 11am on Saturday 20th May; if you are able to make it there I will be happy to talk more with you about any of the above or to address other questions you may have."
All the best,
Clacton Labour Party