On 8 June the country will go to the polls again, this time to elect Members of Parliament. In the run up, we’re talking to the UNISON members who’ll have their names on the ballot paper in a few weeks time
In Kingswood, UWE employee, local councillor and UNISON member Mhairi Threlfall is standing for the Labour Party. Kingswood, part of South Gloucestershire, is closely connected to Bristol’s economy and both are now covered by the same West of England mayor. But Kingswood has a strong identity of its own, with several big employers, including Rolls Royce, operating in the constituency.
Why are you running for Parliament?
“After four years standing up for my community as a Councillor, I wanted to take the next step and take the fight to Parliament. As a ward representative I see the impact of cuts to services and our unbalanced economy every day. Standing for Parliament is a chance to speak up about the damage being done to our communities and get a fair deal.”
What have you learned from being a UNISON member?
“I was young members officer for my branch at UWE and eventually served on the national young members forum. More than anything the experience has given me the confidence to stand up and challenge issues, and work creatively to solve them. UNISON sticks up for the people it represents and I want to do the same for people in Kingswood.”
What would you say to public service workers voting in this election?
“Public services have been decimated by this Government. I think a lot of public service workers are asking themselves “can we cope with five more years of this?”. Teams that used to have ten or fifteen people are down to just a handful and the service provided is getting stretched thin. There isn’t a public service left that isn’t facing some incredibly difficult choices if the funding situation doesn’t change in the next few years”
What do you think the key public service issues are in Kingswood?
“Cuts by the Tory government in local government funding, has resulted in cuts to local and front line services, everything from social care to the reduction of library services. Labour councillors fought to save and retain jobs at the Kingswood Civic centre, but the Tories are still looking to move jobs away to Yate. We need to protect these vital services and the staff that deliver them. I also want to ensure that local people have the skills they need in order to gain jobs with our big employers like Royal Mail and Rolls Royce.”
What issues are you particularly motivated by in politics?
“For me education is fundamental. I work for a university supporting social enterprises and small businesses so I see the ripple effect good education and career services can have all across the economy. But in Kingswood, schools will lose £5 million of funding, which is equivalent to 140 teachers, or 5 teachers per school. That will have a knock on effect further on in those kids’ education. If elected, I will fight to change that.”