In our weekly feature your Interview, we give you, our readers, the chance to ask key figures across Sussex the questions you want answered. This week Brighton Kemptown MP SIMON KIRBY answers your questions.
Simon Catmur: What keeps you awake at night?
Simon Kirby (SK): It’s a big responsibility representing nearly 90,000 people. Labour’s excessive spending and borrowing means that we are paying £120 million every day just in interest on this debt. I worry that if we don’t make the difficult decisions necessary now then we might end up like Greece.
Joseph Miller: Would you agree with me that the difficult decisions this Government are taking are the right ones for a sustainable Britain and that it would be wholly unfair to saddle the younger generation with even more debt for what would be artificial growth now?
(SK): The Government recognises what a special place Brighton and Hove is and is committed to the city. This is evident by the |recent announcement that Brighton and Hove |is to receive funding for superfast broadband.
I lobbied the Government relentlessly on this issue as I recognise it will be a huge help to the many digital and creative industries in the city which contribute so much to the local economy and provide many local jobs.
That is why the recent unemployment figures which show more and more people are finding work are so positive.
Mr Jarrs: Brighton and Hove City Council has lost tens of millions of pounds of Government funding in the last two years and face losing tens of millions more in the coming years. Considering that the people of Brighton and Hove are seeing their Government grants cut by a greater amount per person than neighbouring councils, what have you done, and what are you going to do to reduce these Government funding cuts?
(SK): Brighton and Hove, like authorities everywhere else in the country, and central Government itself, will have to become more efficient as there simply isn’t the money that has been thrown around in the past.
I am a strong voice for Brighton in Parliament and always lobby ministers to ensure my constituents are not disproportionately affected.
Indeed in the last few years for example, the city has received from the Government over £6 million in council tax freeze funding; extra funding £3.9 million (double last year’s allocation) for deprived school children through the pupil premium; almost £40 million to set up the new academy schools in Falmer and Portslade plus funding for two new Free Schools in the city; £750,000 extra social care funding; £4 million for the Lewes Road Transport proposals; £6.6 million of Local Transport Plan funding (a 96% increase on last year); £90k extra Disabled Facilities Grant funding, over £1 million now coming in from the New Homes Bonus and new start-up funding for the Troubled Families Initiative.
Alison Smith: As a disabled wheelchair user could you explain the Blue Badge reforms in your recent Private Members Bill?
(SK): One of my proudest moments since being elected has been the progress of my Bill. I have been blown away by the support it has received from disability charities and organisations, as well as the cross-party support it received in the Commons from all parties.
So much of Parliament on television is adversarial and I truly believe that Parliament is often at its best when there is cross-party consensus.
In a nutshell, my Bill aims to clamp down on abuse of Blue Badges by able-bodied people to ensure that the system works better for genuine badge holders who often tell me of their frustration at seeing disabled bays being used by people who are clearly not disabled. You can find more detailed information on my website www.simonkirby.org.
Kemptownboy (web): Labour Minister’s parting shot: Dear Chief Secretary, I’m sorry to tell you there is no money... kind regards and good luck. How much better off is our country today?
(SK): This little note was incredibly revealing.
It shows the hypocrisy of Labour’s opposition to the savings being suggested by the coalition Government. Their answer of more borrowing and more spending would be a disaster.
I believe our country is far better off.
In the last two years we have managed to cut the budget deficit by a quarter, over one million private sector jobs have been created and unemployment is falling and our borrowing costs have fallen.
We are also tackling the waste within central Government, indeed in the last year we have cut £5.5 billion in waste from Whitehall.
Steven: Do you still encounter opposition and ignorance on LGBT issues among your fellow Conservative MPs?
(SK): There are many differing views on LGBT issues on all sides of the House.
As someone who is proud to represent a constituency with a significant LGBT population I am delighted that it is a Conservative Prime Minister who is bringing in legislation for equal marriage, a move which I support wholeheartedly as long as Churches can opt out if they |wish.
Pam: If you were allowed five guests (living or dead) to your Christmas party this year, who would they be?
(SK): I would probably choose a historic Brighton theme and invite King George IV – who liked a good party at the Pavilion, Brian Clough – who had an eight-month spell in charge of Brighton and Hove Albion in 1974, David James – the MP for Brighton Kemptown 1959-64 who lost by 7 votes after spending his election campaign looking for the Loch Ness monster, Martha Gunn – Brighton’s famous bathing machine operator who appeared in an engraving repelling the invading French with a mop, and finally famous Rottingdean resident Rudyard Kipling who said: “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
Brighton has always attracted interesting people.
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Next week: City council transport spokesman Ian Davey
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