Jenny Wilkinson

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton Coldfield

Jenny's views on health and social care

As with education, the NHS has been hugely underfunded in recent years. It is now struggling to do the amazing work that people value so much. It needs a big cash injection to address the cuts; to make sure that it is properly funded. That is why the Lib Dems have adopted the policy of adding a penny to every pound paid in income tax, which would be specifically ear-marked for health and social care. That is a small cost to fund a service that people value so much.  

It is also vital that we bridge the gap between the care provided by the NHS and social care, to make sure that the system is properly integrated. At the moment, people go to hospital where the staff do a wonderful job, but they are abandoned when they come out. Those elderly who can no longer manage without constant care currently pay thousands for the essential support they need. That has to stop. People need an integrated seamless service.

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Jenny’s views on Education

The core issue for our education system is underfunding. There have been so many cuts to funding in real terms in recent years. In my role as a school governor in a local school, I have seen how budgets have been cut substantially whilst costs are going up. Schools have no funds left anymore. They have been forced to cut so many valuable things. My school no longer offers swimming lessons because they can’t afford them. Parents are having to contribute increased amounts for school trips or for external specialists to visit the school. Many schools are now so underfunded that they have got to the point of having four-and-a-half-day weeks, and the children are no longer taught on Friday afternoons. There is nothing left to cut. I think that it’s completely wrong that there just isn’t enough money for the basics for our children. It’s disastrous, and we have got to rectify the school funding system.

The Lib Dems are looking at increasing funding back to 2015 levels in real terms, which is what campaigners have been asking for. We will give a cash injection to put funding back to a reasonable level. We will recruit 20,000 more teachers, and increase teachers’ pay, and that pay increase must be funded; it can’t just come out of schools’ budgets. We are committed to doing that. In the coalition, the Lib Dems introduced pupil premium to help children in need. We want to build on that achievement by tripling the early years pupil premium to give the most disadvantaged pupils a boost. We also introduced free school meals for infant stage children and we will roll that out to all primary school children.

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Jenny's views on Sutton Town Centre

One of things that stemmed from the work I did in saving Sutton library was that I came to appreciate the importance of the town having a community space where people can come together. Over the last few years, our town centre has been decimated, with shops closing and retailers moving out. People have fewer and fewer reasons to come into the town centre. It needs redeveloping.

The key thing about any future redevelopment is that it must make Sutton an attractive destination. The library should be a key part of development, as a part of a wider community centre, along with a café, space for the arts, meeting rooms and community rooms. Other things can develop around that, including retail. I want to see small independent shops where people can spend time browsing, places where they can go to have a bite to eat, places where they can look at art and other cultural exhibitions. I want open, green, outdoor spaces in the town centre, and places people can meet and relax. I want to see the town centre transformed into a vibrant heart of the local community and the centre of the town should be connected through to the park. We need to give people a reason to come into the town. That is my vision for Sutton.

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Jenny's views on the Green Agenda

Along with the Lib Dems as a whole, I am clear about the urgent need to tackle the climate emergency now. The current government policy is for Britain to be carbon neutral by 2050. There are two problems with that. The first is that 2050 is a long way away. The second, and more important still, is that the Conservatives have no meaningful plan for how that will be achieved.

We need immediate action to become carbon neutral as swiftly as possible. Lib Dem policy is to be completely carbon neutral by 2045 at the latest, and ideally sooner. That plan is based on a practical understanding of the technology that is available now, and also what is likely to be developed in the next 20 years. We are committed to moving to 80% of power being generated from renewable sources by 2030. That is achievable. Alongside that, we need to invest in technology to store power so that people can use it when needed, and not just when the wind is blowing!

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Jenny's views on Sutton library

In autumn 2016, Birmingham City Council threatened to close down Sutton Coldfield library. They were desperate to cut costs because their funding had been savagely cut by central government. Sutton library was identified as a target.

I soon discovered that one of the main issues was that the costings considered by the council were flawed. Birmingham City Council owns the whole building in which the library is based. The library itself does not take up the whole building, however. There were vacant floors in the building which were not used by the library. The council could and should have let those floors out, which it is now doing, but it hadn’t done that. Instead, it treated the costs of the whole building as if they were costs of the library. As a result, it looked as if the cost of the library was significantly higher than the costs of other libraries. Even though it was relatively well used, it looked as if it was so expensive that it seemed like good target for cost cutting.

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Jenny's Political Motivation

I have always voted Lib Dem, but I only joined the party in 2015. Prior to that, I would have said that I was not that interested in politics. I gradually came to appreciate that politics is all about about how we live our lives and make the country a better place.

On joining the party, I found how closely my values own aligned with the Lib Dem values of justice, fairness and equality. I was enthused by the principle of helping people to be best that they can, helping them to achieve what they want in their lives.

I finally joined the Lib Dems after the 2015 election. The result was devastating for the Lib Dems. It seemed so very unfair that the Conservatives took credit for all the good things achieved in the coalition as if those achievements were theirs, whilst leaving the Lib Dems to take the blame for everything unpopular. While we made some bad mistakes in coalition, we also curbed the worst of the Conservatives’ instincts. I think people can see how extreme they’ve become since 2015 without the Lib Dems to restrain them. That’s why I joined the party, and started getting involved in local campaigns, to try to make a difference.

 

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Open letter to Andrew Mitchell MP on Proroging Parliament

28 Goldieslie Road
Sutton Coldfield
B73 5PQ

2nd September 2019

Dear Andrew Mitchell MP

I am writing to express my utter horror at the actions taken by the Prime Minister last week.  I have signed the petition seeking to stop the prorogation of Parliament and attended the protest in Birmingham over the weekend.

I don’t expect you will agree, but I feel it is important to let you know my very strong feelings on this subject. 

The planned prorogation is a deliberate act aimed to prevent a parliamentary democracy functioning as it should.  It is outrageous that parliament should be closed at this critical moment for our country.  Such a disregard for our democracy is unprecedented.

I do hope you will act against this unacceptable abuse of power.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Wilkinson
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton Coldfield


Local Lib Dems Press for Action on School Funding

Jenny Wilkinson, spokesperson for Sutton Coldfield Lib Dems, has thrown her support behind a campaign by the National Governance Association (“NGA”) for a substantial increase to funding for our schools. In her capacity as Chair of Governors of Holland House Infant School and Nursery, Jenny joined governors and trustees from 130 constituencies across the country at NGA’s lobby of Parliament on Thursday 28th February.

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Open letter to Andrew Mitchell MP on the meaningful vote

5th December 2018

Dear Andrew Mitchell MP

Let’s be clear. Brexit is proving to be a complete mess.

Mr Mitchell, do you genuinely believe that Mrs May’s agreement is in our best interests? Do you really think that the Government’s proposed arrangement is better than our current EU deal?

In 2016, you supported Remain. With your wealth of international experience, you will be well aware of the value of working with our neighbours on a range of issues that transcend borders: taxation of the largest companies; climate change; defence; the refugee crisis. You are also, no doubt, very aware of the catastrophic consequences that a bad Brexit could have on business and commerce.

The deal currently proposed satisfies no-one: on the one hand, it risks us being tied into the Customs Union indefinitely, bound by EU regulations in which we have no say; on the other, we lose our rights to freely work, travel and love across 27 countries. I urge you to take the best interests of your constituents into account and vote against this deal.

Furthermore, I ask you to support our calls for the people to be given the final say on the Brexit deal. Here are 5 reasons why you should support this:

  1. The referendum was not free and fair. There were lies. Turkey is not joining the EU and, in any case, the UK would have a veto. Leave donor Arron Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency. He is innocent until proven guilty but, should illegal foreign money have played a part, then the legitimacy of the result must be questioned. Do we really want to go ahead and reward liars and possible cheats?
  2. Voters were not well informed about the reality of Brexit. The implications for the Irish border were never considered. Of course, leaving the EU was on the ballot paper, but no-one knew what leave would look like in reality. It wasn’t clear in 2016 and has only become clearer in the last couple of weeks, two and a half years after the original vote, when the Brexit deal was, in part, revealed. By giving the people a final vote, we are allowing them to make an informed decision on the facts – not the fantasy mis-sold by Brexiteers.
  3. The promises of 2016 have not been met. The backlash against the PM’s deal by Leavers and Remainers alike has only increased divisions. It satisfies neither side of the debate. If Theresa May’s Brexit is such a good deal for the UK, surely voters will endorse it again!
  4. The country is allowed to change its mind – democracy should be an ongoing process. What looked like such a good deal in 2016 is now in doubt. People are, quite rightly, having second thoughts. Our recent street poll in Sutton Coldfield, showed an overwhelming dissatisfaction with how Brexit is going, with two-thirds of people we spoke to supporting calls for a referendum on the deal.
  5. Brexit will be your legacy to Sutton Coldfield. Despite our differences, my genuine belief is that you went into politics to make a difference. I cannot understand why you are so determined to be an architect of a project which will make things worse for all of our residents? Please search your conscience and make the right decision.

A lot has changed since 2016 and it is now clear that there is no Commons majority for any version of Brexit. At this point, the safest route must be to give this decision back to the people, giving them the choice between the deal negotiated by the Government and remaining in the EU. An increasing number of Conservative MPs recognise that this is the only way to overcome a gridlocked Parliament.

Democracy relies on people being given opportunities to change their minds if they want to do so. Please use your position of public trust to act in the national interest and support plans for a People’s Vote.

Yours sincerely,

Jenny Wilkinson
Spokesperson for Sutton Coldfield Liberal Democrats


Sutton Park

Jenny has been shocked by the under-investment in our park over recent years and is passionate about making the most of this fantastic natural asset we have on our doorstep.Jenny

Jenny wants to see more resources available for our park rangers to allow them to effectively manage and maintain the park and is particularly keen to see more organised ‘forest school’ events for our local children and young people to learn to fully appreciate their natural environment.