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Mid and south Pembrokeshire election candidates answer questions on cost of living crisis

AHEAD of the July 4 general election, mid and south Pembrokeshire general election hopefuls have outlined what they will do about the cost-of-living crisis.

As part of constituency changes, bits of north Pembrokeshire – including St Davids and– are joining the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency.

Mid and South Pembrokeshire covers Letterston, Solva and St Davids down to Hundleton and Tenby, stretching eastwards to Amroth, Narberth and Lampeter Velfrey.

Other parts of the north of the county are now in the new Ceredigion Preseli constituency; which extends up past Aberystwyth and also includes Cilgerran, Crymych, St Dogmaels, Fishguard and Llanrhian.

There’s now a 15-candidate battle for the two seats, eight in Mid and South Pembrokeshire and seven in Ceredigion Preseli.

With a July 4 date set for the general election, the currently declared candidates for Mid and South Pembrokeshire are: Hanna Andersen (Women’s Equality Party); Alistair Cameron (Welsh Liberal Democrats); Stephen Crabb (Welsh Conservative); Stuart Marchant (Reform UK); James Purchase (Green Party); Vusi Siphika (Independent); Cris Tomos (Plaid Cymru); and Henry Tufnell (Welsh Labour).

In the run-up to the election, all candidates were asked: “What will you do to improve the economic situation/ help tackle to cost-of-living crisis in your constituency?”

Alistair Cameron said: “We need the UK Government to help provide the infrastructure in Pembrokeshire (particularly around the Milford Haven estuary) to develop floating offshore wind (which could provide up to one third of Britain’s domestic electricity needs) and green hydrogen. This should support our county’s economy and lead to high quality local jobs.

“I also want to see better trading links with our European partners in order to boost local trade and jobs, particularly as we have two ferry ports to Ireland in Pembrokeshire.

“We need to see government investment and support for our town centres and the tourism industry.

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“Pembrokeshire has the fourth highest level of child poverty in Wales. Liberal Democrats would scrap the bedroom tax and replace the sanctions regime with an incentive-based system to help people into work.”

James Purchase said: “‘Ich Dien’ will be my motto (without the feathers) and I will serve the people of Pembrokeshire to ensure an economic mix of both industrial and rural that will bring well-being and a better quality of life for everyone, as well as protecting the environment and enabling us to tackle the climate crisis.

“The bitter cost-of-living crisis was largely caused by a not fit for purpose energy security policy; buying in fossil fuel energy when we should have been using nationalised Welsh wind, Welsh tides and Welsh water power. Privatisation has failed miserably and un-earned dividends are paid to shareholders whilst infrastructure is run into the ground. The Green Party is committed to public ownership of public services so that they are run to serve all.”

Hanna Andersen said: “For 14 years the Conservatives have cut our services and driven policies that mean a third of children are now growing up in poverty.

“The old parties chase growth at all costs, but who benefits when we still can’t pay our energy bills or access care when we need it?

“At the Women’s Equality Party, we are committed to investing in care by introducing Universal Free Childcare and a National Social Care system, free at the point of use. We will end child poverty by increasing child benefit, putting a stop to the harmful two-child benefit cap and increasing carer’s allowance.”

Henry Tufnell said: “I have been knocking on doors and listening to residents for over a year now, and the number one issue is the cost of living.

“The Tory Government has lurched from crisis to crisis, playing fast and loose with the public finances, and the result is an economy with high taxes, high interest rates, high inflation and low growth.

“Economic stability and security are vital for our county and our country. Labour’s manifesto is fully costed and fully funded, and designed to create the necessary conditions to partner with business and create economic growth.

“It is vital that we turn the page on this Tory chaos.”

Stephen Crabb said: “I have a reputation for getting things done in our community, and for helping people of all backgrounds. I helped lead the campaign to secure the Celtic Freeport, and I work closely with local industry to help bring new investment and jobs to the Haven Waterway.

“I have also worked hard to secure £27 million Levelling Up money for Pembrokeshire which will help to bring new activity back into our towns.

“During the pandemic, me and my team worked tirelessly to ensure that local families had their incomes protected: 18,000 people had furlough and 4,500 self-employed people received support.

“Fighting for new and better jobs for Pembrokeshire people will always be a key priority for me.”

Stuart Marchant said: “In Pembrokeshire we need to revitalise our fishing fleet and support farmers to farm as well as aspiring to take full advantage of our tourist trade and possible developments.

“These three key industries have been attacked in recent years and decades and deprived Pembrokeshire of much-needed jobs. Jobs that encompassed both lower and higher payroll groups.

“I would strive to be a voice of support and change so that these three industries could play the crucial role that they ought to within the constituency. I would also seek out real and true financially rewarding developments that do provide local jobs.

“I also believe that my party’s policy of making work pay is key. A £20,000 starting tax threshold as well as a £70,000 upper tax threshold would, in my view, lead to making work pay.”

Vusi Siphika said: “As the sixth richest country in the world we have the means and capability to ensure all our citizens maintain a comfortable standard of living.

“The cost-of-living crisis is as much about lifting up and supporting all our citizens and prioritising our working families who are in poverty, namely 24.7 per cent across Pembrokeshire.

“By enabling all our citizens to maximize their capabilities, create fair and good employment, narrow the wealth inequality via good wages supplemented by an increase in the threshold for universal credit and creating sustainable, good quality and affordable housing for all. Our roadmap to a healthier constituency.”

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos said: “I recognise the inequality in economic performance of different nations and regions in the UK, Plaid Cymru propose an Economic Fairness Bill that will make levelling up a meaningful phrase, rather than a political slogan, ensuring that the impact of fiscal decisions are considered on a wider level than just what is best for the City of London.

“I campaigned in 2016 for Wales to stay in the European Union, recognising both the social and economic benefits which accrued from that membership. I respected the result of the referendum, but, with the Conservatives having led us down a path of destruction, we believe that the UK should re-enter the European Single Market and Customs Union at the earliest opportunity, in order to mitigate the impact of Brexit on Welsh business and reduce overheads and administrative costs.”