VIDEO: Meet your parliamentary candidates for Eastbourne and Willingdon

It’s one of the most uncertain elections for decades, and with Eastbourne & Willingdon seen as a ‘marginal’ seat, every vote will count. In this constituency there are six candidates, and we asked each of them why they deserve your vote on May 7.

Stephen Lloyd - Liberal Democrat

(From top left clockwise) Stephen Lloyd, Paul Howard, Jake Lambert, Nigel Jones, Caroline Ansell, Andrew Durling

(From top left clockwise) Stephen Lloyd, Paul Howard, Jake Lambert, Nigel Jones, Caroline Ansell, Andrew Durling

Over the past five years, it has been an absolute privilege to represent Eastbourne & Willingdon in Parliament. I’ve fought tooth and nail for our town across a whole range of issues, from campaigning to protect core services at our DGH, to working with local businesses to increase the take up of apprenticeships amongst both young people and employers. Eastbourne has become a real success story since the peak of the recession in 2011, and unemployment is now at its lowest level for over ten years!

However, I don’t see any reason for us to rest on our laurels. I’ve a strong record of delivery and I know as a town we can do even more. The heritage that makes Eastbourne strong – our magnificent pier which is recovering so well from the awful fire, our excellent hospitality and entertainment sectors, tremendous schools and beautiful seafront and South Downs – all combine to provide what we know to be our strongest asset: Eastbourne is a wonderful place to live. All these give us the right tools to look forward positively, whether it’s through attracting business investment to our town, such the £85m regeneration of the Arndale Centre or encouraging people to visit our many great events including Airbourne, the returned Sunshine Carnival, our two fantastic marathons, the Bonfire Procession, Magnificent Motors, the world-famous Aegon Tennis Tournament and many more. All reflect both the energy our town has and its deep sense of community. We love our town and that’s our strength.

If re-elected, I will be a strong optimistic voice for everyone in Eastbourne & Willingdon. My record shows that I put the town before party politics and it also shows I’m there for everyone. This will never change for as long as I have the honour to serve you. Please vote for me on May 7. Thank you.

Nigel Jones - UKIP

Nigel Jones is a journalist and historian. The author of eight acclaimed books and biographies, he regularly writes for national newspapers and magazines, and often broadcasts on radio and TV. In 2010, he co-founded the travel company for which he guides visits to historical sites across Europe. Brought up in Sussex, Nigel lives locally with his partner and their three children. A fluent German speaker, he spent seven years working in Europe where he became aware that our membership of the undemocratic EU meant the end of Britain as a free country. The EU has destroyed our fishing industry, makes 75 per cent of our laws, and corruptly wastes billions of our hard-earned pounds every year.

Joining UKIP in 2011, Nigel has devoted himself to speaking and campaigning in and for Eastbourne and Willingdon since being adopted as UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in January 2014.

Nigel’s partner works in the NHS as a family therapist, and having himself recently undergone a serious operation locally, spending a week in hospital, Nigel is keenly aware of the running down of Eastbourne District General Hospital (the DGH) by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition.

Despite campaigning to save the DGH, our current MP and his Tory opponent have been unable to halt the deliberate deterioration of the hospital’s services, because it has happened on their parties’ watch in government.

The destruction of the DGH means that patients needing urgent or serious surgery and expectant mums have to make the long and expensive 20-mile journey to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings. This puts their lives at risk and is utterly unacceptable.

If elected as Eastbourne’s MP Nigel will put saving the DGH and restoring its lost services at the very top of his agenda as an independent voice in Parliament dedicated to its survival. My opponents will merely be the slaves of their party’s national policies.

Only by voting UKIP, the sole party that still believes in Britain, in the general and council elections on May 7, can we have an independent voice in Parliament and on our local council. We are fighting for local people, and are dedicated to cutting uncontrolled immigration, and winning back the sovereignty of our country so shamefully surrendered by the old LibLabCon parties. For the sake of our children and grandchildren’s future, please vote UKIP for a fresh start and a better Britain.

Paul Howard - Independent

Formerly a teacher, I have run my own training and consultancy business since 1999 and lived in Eastbourne since 2005.

Having felt increasingly angered by the growing inequality of British society and successive governments’ failure to address it, I decided that I would get off my backside and become more active during the 2015 election. However, finding none of the parties offering policies close enough to my thoughts and feelings, I decided to stand as an Independent.

I don’t simply want your votes; I also want your eyes, ears, hearts and minds. My ambition is to encourage you to see, hear, feel and think about how our country is being infected by inequalities of income, wealth and opportunity and to make an informed choice on May 7.

We know that from 2005-2013 the richest people in the UK grew 64% richer while the poorest grew 57 per cent poorer. This was not an accident but the direct result of so-called ‘free market’ policies that our governments have adopted since the 1980s. The net effect is a country dominated by selfishness, greed and a disregard for others, especially those who are weak and vulnerable. Despite the claims of the wealthy there is no evidence of a ‘trickle down’ effect!

One commentator has observed that big business and the rich no longer have to lobby governments, because they are the government. As shown by the Royal Mail sell-off and the banking crisis of 2008/9, privatisation and de-regulation fuel the greed of the few and undermine the needs of the many.

Like other communities, Eastbourne suffers the fall-out from this structural inequality. At least part of the local NHS Trust’s debt is a consequence of governments’ love affair with PFI contracts. Rail services to the town have declined during a period of private ownership which nationally receives a £5bn subsidy from the taxpayer. The livelihood of our inshore fisheries is being threatened by most of the quotas being given to large scale enterprises. The setting up of a free school where there is no shortage of places undermines the local education system.

I know I’m not alone in losing faith in political parties to construct a fairer, stronger society. While I can understand people not voting, I hope you will join me and take a stand on May 7.

Andrew Durling - The Green Party

I’m a trained nurse by profession, so I know first-hand how precious the NHS is. That is why I am campaigning for an NHS that is properly funded and properly run as the fully public service it should be. I believe reversal of NHS privatisation must take place and that the Eastbourne DGH is restored as the complete hospital it must be to meet the needs of a growing town like ours.

I’m also a social entrepreneur, striving to bring the benefits of community-owned renewable energies to Eastbourne. I embrace the clean energy revolution as I believe it will help us move away from damaging fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. To meet this challenge, I want better, smarter, flood defences for Eastbourne. I will push for better local public transport, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, with cheaper bus and rail fares.

I want to ensure that Eastbourne’s small businesses and start-up enterprises can contribute to a sustainable, resilient local economy. That they are protected from unfair competition from corporations who do not pay their fair share of tax, do not pay the Living Wage or do not respect the needs of local people and their environment.

I have a vision, born from Green Party policies. I want Eastbourne to be a place where well-being matters more than wealth; where people are always put before profits and where the quality of our lives matters more than the quantity of stuff we own. Where cycle paths and safe pedestrian areas are plentiful, where everyone has affordable and reliable public transport options. Where the air is safe to breathe and our countryside is protected from polluting industries such as fracking. Where no one goes hungry, shivers in cold homes or lacks affordable housing. Where young people are not burdened by a lifetime of debt because they want quality education and a decent start in life. Where, in this 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta, our democracy is renewed both locally and nationally as our Parliament and local councils are made more representative through a People’s Constitutional Convention where everyone’s voice can be heard.

As your Green Party candidate, I want to help build a fairer society that works for you and for the Common Good, in Eastbourne and in the rest of Britain.

Jake Lambert - Labour

For the first time in almost a century people are worse off at the end of a Parliament than they were at the start. Eastbourne cannot afford another five years of a Lib Dem-Tory government that gives tax breaks to millionaires whist working people struggle with rising energy bills, childcare costs and poverty wages.

I am standing to give people in Eastbourne a choice; a chance to vote for a better plan that will put patients before profit in the NHS, introduce a living wage and restore the link between economic growth and rising living standards.

I am a genuinely local candidate for Eastbourne and Willingdon. I grew up in Hampden Park, attended local state schools, and now live in Old Town with my partner Louise. I am angry that thousands of people in our town are forced to rely on food banks to feed their families. We will only succeed when the economy works for working people.

We need politicians with proper life experience and as a serving classroom teacher at a local secondary school, I am passionate about giving the next generation the opportunity to succeed. That’s why I have backed Labour’s plan to cut tuition fees and increase the entire education budget in real terms and why I have pledged to end youth unemployment in Eastbourne within five years.

I also have experience of vital local industries, having previously worked in the local hospitality and retail sectors and have led projects to deliver a cross-community peace project working in Israel-Palestine. I am driven by a desire to contribute to my community and will ensure that everyone plays by the same rules with a bank levy and measures to tackle tax avoidance.

The NHS as we know it will not survive another five years of this government. My record of standing up for vital local services, including with the Save The DGH Campaign, shows my commitment to the principles of the NHS. I will fight to protect our DGH and vote to end privatisation, integrate health and social care and guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours and cancer tests and results within one week.

We need to restore trust in politics. I will be a strong local voice for our town with Labour values that you can rely on. This election is like no other for Eastbourne; it’s time to vote for someone you can believe in.

Caroline Ansell - Conservatives

I love my home town. Four generations of my family live here. It’s a fantastic place to grow up, study, work and retire. I understand our opportunities and challenges. People have told me by letter, email and on the doorstep what matters to them. From control of our borders to petitioning for more respite care for carers, I’m championing our interests. I‘ve a plan to secure us a prosperous future and no-one will be left behind.

Top quality care at our hospital, doctors’ surgeries and in the community – a shock diagnosis for one of my children back in 2008 was a life-changing experience and one which explains both my political path and my passion for the NHS.

When my son was diagnosed with a brain tumour, we didn’t have to ask how much to save his life or ask ourselves how we’d ever pay. I’ll fight to ensure the people of Eastbourne and Willingdon get the best possible health care. I’m a DGH mum and the return of core services is my number one priority.

The best start in life for the next generation and lifelong chances for all – I’m a teacher and education runs in the family – my mum taught her dad to read. She was born into disadvantage and I was born into opportunity. She outperformed her start in life and instilled in me a powerful belief in meritocracy and the transforming power of education.

So, I’m working to see every school aspire to ‘Outstanding’ and ensure we keep attracting the best teachers and head teachers for our young people. I’ve spoken in support of new school sixth forms in the town to give students and parents real choice.

Improve transport connectivity to put us on the map for new jobs and business – coastal communities rise or fall on their transport links. That’s why I’m campaigning for ‘trains, planes and automobiles’; a second runway at Gatwick, which in the words of Sir Terry Farrell, “Could do for the South East what the Olympics did for East London”, delivering contracts for local businesses, creating jobs and apprenticeships; an upgraded A27; and protected direct rail services to Brighton.

In addition to these campaigns, there is important work to do around social isolation, loneliness, and domestic violence. And it’s become clear that whether for or against, people want to have a say on our membership of the EU.

Note: The Herald invited all six candidates to submit a profile and video.