|Cat Smith: Photo: Lancaster and Fleetwood Labour Party|
Local campaigner Cat Smith has lived in Lancaster for over a decade. Born in Barrow-in-Furness, the former student at Lancaster University has been involved in fighting for the area for many years, including standing for Labour in Wyre and Preston North at the last General Election.
Cat Smith combines her job, supporting social work professionals, with being an active community campaigner. She recently addressed the rally to protect services at the Lancaster Royal Infirmary - from which the Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw was absent - as well as speaking out against the threat to rehabilitation beds in Fleetwood.
Citing her priorities as tackling unemployment, protecting the health service and campaiugning for more affordable homes she argues the Tories have no plan to bring the jobs and growth the local economy needs.
"With long-term unemployment in Lancaster and Fleetwood up by a shocking 36%, the Tories are letting local people down," she says. "Labour must deliver an economic recovery which addresses the North-South divide and ensure the benefits of growth are felt beyond the South East.
"As a candidate, I will develop a local plan for investment in infrastructure to spur jobs and growth. I strongly back the re-introduction of Fleetwood’s rail link, supporting our local businesses and creating jobs.
"The NHS is the most civilised aspect of our society," she feels. "The creeping privatisation of our NHS is wrong in principle, damaging in practice and economically inefficient. Profits should never be put before people.
"With the current threat to services in the Morecambe Bay Health Trust, I will defend Lancaster’s 24-hours A&E and maternity unit. Fleetwood must also not suffer any withdrawal of services, which must always remain free at the point of use and supported with qualified staff who have secure jobs."
And on afforable housing she notes that for many of our young families, renting is no longer a stepping-stone to home ownership, but their long term reality.
"21% of local residents rent privately, many more than are in housing association (7%) or local authority homes (4%). With rising prices and a lack of quality long-term secure family housing, I will campaign for new council house building, the expansion of shared ownership schemes plus the regulation of private landlords, with long term secure tenancies and rent regulation."
Cat is determined to give the Tories a fight in the election.
“I would like to thank my fellow local Labour Party members for selecting me to fight for the people of Lancaster and Fleetwood," she says. “Eric Ollerenshaw's Government has let the people of Lancaster and Fleetwood down badly. Theirs is a Government which doesn't care about ordinary people in communities like ours.
“The Tories won this seat by less than 1% at the last election - but our area can't afford to give them another five years in power.
“I now look forward to listening to people across Lancaster and Fleetwood. We need an MP who will stand up for ordinary people in our area, not someone who just keeps on supporting the failed policies of David Cameron and George Osborne. We need an MP who will put Lancaster and Fleetwood first.”
• Cat Smith's election web site: www.catsmith.co.uk