Election 2015 Q&A: Lib Dem Dolphin pledges ‘no nonsense’ approach

Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrat candidate Paula Dolphin

Torridge and West Devon Liberal Democrat candidate Paula Dolphin - Credit: Archant

Liberal Democrat candidate Paula Dolphin on her push for the Torridge and West Devon parliamentary seat

How long have you been in politics?

I have been interested in politics for many years (from my time as a student representative at University). Since moving to the South West at the turn of the century I have become more actively involved in my community and politics. This has included representing my community at Town, District and County level and being the Mayor of my local town for two years.

Why have you decided to stand for election?

There is never just one reason why a person puts themselves forward to represent a constituency in Westminster.

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Since becoming involved as an elected representative I realised just how important it is to fight for local services, as those that know me are aware. I know that this part of the country is remote from London and too often our needs are ignored and too often it seems that our voice is not heard in London. I have always been a fighter for what I consider to be right. I want a society that is fair and where everyone is valued. I want the needs of our rural area to be addressed by government to a greater extent that it is now.

What are the major issues facing Torridge between 2015-20?

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There are many challenges facing Torridge & West Devon in the next few years. Torridge is very rural and people living in rural areas earn less, yet have higher housing costs, live longer; yet find healthcare more difficult to access, pay more for fuel, energy and water and have fewer opportunities in education and training. Rural communities pay higher council tax, receive less government grant and have access to fewer public services than their urban counterparts.

Lack of adequate training or transport to reach it is leading to a generation of young people with limited opportunities and life chances and to a risk of depopulation of our rural areas by the younger age groups whose economic contribution underpins support for the elderly in our community.

What would you like to see done to combat these?

It should be the main role for any MP to fight for his or her area and, if elected, that is what I intend to do.

I will campaign for the recognition that rural access to services is restricted and a commitment by government is needed to create a rural multiplier in relation to funding of rural areas with a measure based on accessibility. Also I will campaign for an increase in funding to rural local authorities in relation to elderly care as well as an increase in funding to rural CCGs in respect of the nature of health needs in a rural area.

How would your party deliver on this for the people of Torridge and West Devon?

Through me and the Party’s manifesto. I am the one responsible and accountable.

The Liberal Democrats promises of more are: to cut Income Tax by a further £400, to pay an extra £1 an hour for the lowest paid apprentices, to give more money to disadvantaged school children and free childcare for all two years old, to end prison sentence for personal drugs possession and many more…

How much pressure do you think local services will come under should spending cuts continue? Can local authorities cope with these?

I always believe that austerity brings a review of value for money on all public services and that is not a bad thing, because some local authorities can be very inefficient, as you know. However there comes a point in time were services are compromised due to the cuts and I believe we are starting to experience some problems now.

I will demand that local public services, cut hard in recent years, are funded more generously to allow local councils to maintain services. This includes the support they have given to very rural public transport services.

Do you support or oppose further housing and renewable energy developments in the constituency? Why?

I support housing developments that can be sustained by appropriate infrastructure. I support the ability to live affordably in the community in which an individual is brought up, including regulation to ensure rents that are commensurate with local wages. Also, I support the ability for local authorities to restrict sale of homes as second homes if the number of second homes in a community exceeds 40 per cent.

I support a mixture of renewable energy investments when those projects involve the community or has significant community benefit.

I believe this area has its fair share of onshore wind turbines and I am concerned that some solar farms are taking good agricultural land away, which may cause this country to have to import more food.

If asked about renewable versus fossil full – in particular: fracking - I would support renewables, since I cannot support fracking extraction process and the dangers of the chemicals used contaminating our grounds and water supply. But we all need to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint.

How confident are you of a successful election campaign for your party, both locally and nationally?

My campaign is about Torridge & West Devon residents. It is about proving that I understand their needs and can meet their expectations as their representative in Parliament. It is about showing them that I have a reputation of getting things done and working hard – full time all the time.

In one sentence, what would you pledge to offer to the people of Torridge should you be elected?

Regard me as a No-Nonsense who will work full time for the people of Torridge and West Devon. I am also a problem solver who considers that things are not impossible, but possible.

Why should people give you their vote?

People in Torridge & West Devon should vote for the candidate that will best represent them in Parliament. I am that person. I work hard and have experience, both professionally and political. I have built a reputation of listening and getting things done. Growing up in Brazil made me tough, resilient and also compassionate and caring for those who are vulnerable in our society.

I cannot promise to win every battle but I can promise to fight hard for our area. I am aware that it is not easy to get things through Parliament and that the process is slow. However Parliament is not the only place an MP does their work. I am a problem solver, creative and always thinking outside the box.

If I have the honour of representing, I will work alongside community champions to get the best for this area. No need to talk about devolution, as your MP will empower people within the community to help me deliver a better life to all our residents. I have many local projects in mind and how I am going to help you, your family and the community that you live in.

What would you say to anyone thinking about not voting in May?

It is easy to think that one vote is of little importance, but together each of us can make a difference. It is sometimes difficult at election times when politicians make wild promises about what they will do for you. The reality often turns out very differently. This May there will be big differences in the political views of candidates and in their ability and willingness to work hard for the benefit of everyone in Torridge & West Devon. I really hope you will look beyond the promises and vote for a person who will represent the views and needs of everyone in our communities.

Away from politics, give us a quirky fact about yourself?

I am a beekeeper and I have built my top bar hive from instructions on the internet.

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