Catherine West

  Catherine West PledgeName: Catherine West

  Party: Labour

 Area Standing (Constituency): Hornsey and Wood Green

  Signed The Positive Youth News Haringey Pledge: Yes

  Responded To Online Hustings: Yes – Answers Below

Politicians always attack our youth centres when making cuts, what would you do to protect them?

We’ve seen young people’s services come under sustained attack from this Tory-led government, whether it’s scrapping Educational Maintenance Allowance, tripling tuition fees or downgrading apprenticeships.  They’ve  targeted their cuts at deprived areas like Haringey so the council has lost £180 million since 2010, much more than some of the leafier suburbs.  That’s put huge pressure on vital but non-statutory services like youth centres.  It’s not right because young people need support. If I’m elected I’ll be fighting for a better deal for our community.  I also know that Parliament will shortly consider a report on youth services which will likely recommend more youth services. It’s no good making it statutory without providing the funding, so I will make the case for funding to go with any new local powers.

Do you think the Duggan case has made it hard for the community to trust the police? 

There’s definitely a legacy of mistrust and bad relations which the police need to tackle – because all of us need a police service we can trust keeping our communities safe. We need a more diverse police service, and a police service which can build up proper relationships with the community it serves. Its a scandal that under the Tory-led government we’ve seen neighbourhood police teams cut back so dramatically, while round here violent crime is going up.

Young people are the lowest voters, what can you do to increase voting participation?

When I was Leader of Islington Council we held borough wide elections for a Young Mayor and Youth Council.  They were given a budget and real responsibility to look at how we allocated funding for youth services.  People got involved because they could see the point.  I find that young people are very engaged and care passionately about issues like jobs, housing or cuts to services – I’ve had lots of young people getting involved to support my campaign.

In Haringey we have a number of councillors under the age of 30 and they are providing a good role model for young people to become more engaged in issues.But we need to work much harder as politicians to make young people see that what happens in Westminster has an impact on their lives.

Do you support votes at 16?

Yes, and a Labour Government would give all 16 and 17 year olds the vote by May 2016.  I’ve met so many young people that have been affected by decisions this government have made like scrapping Educational Maintenance Allowance or cutting careers advice.  It’s not fair that they don’t get to have their voices heard.

Do you think it is fair that there is a different minimum wage if you are under 18?

I wouldn’t want to see it made harder for young people to find work as that first job is so important to gain experience.  What we need is a higher minimum wage for everyone – and incentives for companies to go one step further and pay the Living Wage.  We also need to make sure the minimum wage is enforced.  One in five young apprentices aren’t even paid the appropriate minimum wage but this government has done nothing about it.  There have only been two prosecutions since 2010. We need to get much tougher on companies that don’t play by the rules.

The affordable housing being built in Haringey is not affordable, why is this allowed?

The current Tory-led government has made it very difficult for councils to tackle the need for genuinely affordable housing. One of the first things the Tory government did was cut the money for social housing. And Tory Mayor of London Boris who controls the money for housing in London hasn’t helped either, imposing rules that price a lot of people out of even so-called affordable housing.

So the rules have to change. A Labour government will put money into housing that is properly affordable, and where private development is taking place I will argue for 50 per cent affordable homes to be provided. There’s a real crisis in housing in London, and we need a system meeting everyone’s needs,  whether they need social housing, private renting or are looking to get onto  the property ladder. Labour will also help private renters by bringing in 3 year tenancies, capping rent increases and banning rip-off letting fees.

Why have you chosen to stand?

I believe Hornsey & Wood Green deserves better than a Minister from this Tory-led government that has put profit over patients in our NHS, tripled tuition fees, caused massive hardship to disabled people with the cruel bedroom tax and taken hundreds of millions of pounds from vital borough services.

I want to create a fairer society and defend our vital public services.  A higher minimum wage, a ban on exploitative zero hours contracts, a cut in tuition fees, a massive genuinely affordable house building programme and a public National Health Service that gets the investment it needs.

When are we going to see real jobs not just supermarkets or sales?

Under this Tory-led government we’ve seen a huge rise in low paid, zero hours, insecure jobs even for people with good degrees.  Youth unemployment is over 700,000 and fewer people are starting apprenticeships.  It’s a massive kick in the teeth if you’ve worked hard, got the grades and then there’s no decent jobs at the end of it all.  Under Labour, every young person who gets the right grades will have a right to a high quality apprenticeship.  We’ll also increase the minimum wage which will have a positive effect on the labour market for graduates as well as those going straight into work from school.

I want to see training and jobs help managed at a more local level.  At the moment we throw millions at big national employment programmes that aren’t very good at getting people into work.  If we had that money here in Haringey, working with people who know the local labour market, know what skills are needed, we’d be much more successful

Do you support the knocking down of Broadwater Farm estate?

That’s really one for the Tottenham candidates as it’s in the Tottenham constituency not in Hornsey and Wood Green where im standing.

Do you think prison needs to be tougher?

I want to see people leave prison and not end up back again a year later.  At the moment re-offending rates are way too high.  Of course prison has got to punish but it’s also got to help people who’ve got on the wrong side of the law, so I want to see prisoners spend more time working and learning while they’re behind bars.  Conditions in our prisons have got worse under the Tories, with severe overcrowding and fewer opportunities for meaningful activity, and that has to change if we want to break the cycle of reoffending.

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