Statement from Stephen Richmond, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Coventry South:

"The Conservative party is unable to protect, maintain and grow Britain’s economy. In Coventry we know what happens when governments neglect a place. Refusing to maintain investment stops us from attracting well paying jobs and thriving businesses. This government has taken the decades long Westminster strategy of neglecting the West Midlands and expanded that failed policy to the whole country.

"One local result is the sewage plant covering Coventry South regularly spilling raw sewage into our rivers. It let out raw sewage for the equivalent of 57 days in 2023 (this is without the new housing that’s being built on King’s Hill). Severn Trent is “only” the 6th worst of 9 in the UK. It’s a visceral example of what’s happened across every aspect of UK life.

"Voters tell me about their frustration with NHS wait times, often unable to see doctors and dentists at all, or their struggles getting police to respond to crime. The theme is clear: when you hollow out society, health, police, sewage, energy and transport, everything breaks. Longer wait times for an ambulance or cancer treatment can kill. A police force unable to respond leaves us and our property vulnerable. Refusal to invest in sewage, electricity and transport means higher prices for worse services. We’ve watched our fast and efficient train connection to London become a coin-flip service: perhaps running, perhaps not! What’s certain is it’ll cost you more. Businesses don’t want to invest in neglected places, so the economy hollows out. In Coventry we saw that happen to us over decades. This government has forced us to watch the whole UK face it. We’ve seen stagnant wages and rising prices, an anaemic economy unable to get the NHS appointment it desperately needs!

"But, when we invest in Britain, progress is possible! My party’s policies on clean energy have helped ensure the UK grid is majority powered by zero CO2 sources. Judging by the home solar arrays I see in Coventry, many of you are already being paid to produce zero CO2 energy at home. I'm proud of that but I’d go further. I’ll be arguing for not just a net zero target, but a net negative target so that we can start to recapture historic CO2 emissions.

"Next, Liberal Democrats want to reform business rates to shift the tax burden from small business to landlords. In places like Earlsdon, Cheylesmore and the city centre that would make a huge difference. For Coventry generally, collecting revenues from the landlords of student blocks would be a huge boost, as those blocks currently provide neither council taxes nor business rates. We’d be an ideal location to trial the Lib Dem plans.

"I believe projects that add value should always be funded. That’s why I’ll also be fighting for us to trial accessing investment funds based on our needs. We’d write proposals, as a city, explain how they will pay for themselves (through, for example, higher revenues from taxes on commercial landlords!) and receive the funds from a national investment bank, set up as part of the Bank of England.

"Societies thrive when they invest in themselves. I hope voters will join me in demanding we invest in Britain. We can show that, just like we did here in Coventry, it’s possible to rise from the ashes of any challenge. We are the city of peace and reconciliation, we are also the city of rebuilding! Let’s light a better way forward."

Stephen Richmond stood outside the main gates at the War Memorial Park, Coventry

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