General Election 2019: Lib Dems’ Rupert Moss-Eccardt wants to stop brexit, improve youth services in Fenland and increase the local police force
- Credit: Archant
“Brexit will be terrible for people in Fenland,” says Rupert Moss-Eccardt, who is the Liberal Democrat candidate for North East Cambridgeshire in the upcoming General Election.
Alongside improving youth services and increasing the local police force, stopping Brexit is the Welney man's main aim because "people here will disproportionately suffer because there'll be a blow to the economy.
But why is Brexit going to be, as he alleges, so bad? "If Boris gets his way, there will be poorer health and a bigger wealth divide. One hopes that common sense prevails and that we don't get a no-deal which is the best outcome this area can get.
"If you look at the assessments that have been done, and all the possible deals (hard, soft, intermediate), GDP always goes down or doesn't grow."
Rather than "wasting time" worrying about Brexit, Rupert says there are more important issues that "have to be dealt with now - like water management and climate change. "Brexit is distracting people from being able to do their jobs and pass laws.
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"I don't actually see what Brexit brings us because there will still be rules about trading. Yes, it could be better, but we need to fix what can be fixed from inside rather than smash it into a thousand pieces and not be able to fix it at all."
Aside from Brexit, Rupert's other aim is to improve life for people who live in Fenland. Having grown up in Welney and enjoyed strawberry picking and driving tractors as a teenager, he says "I know how Fenland works, in terms of farming, haulage, gangmasters - everything that makes the Fen economy work.
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"Growing up here you understand what people do and about commuting to other places, how farming works and how there's not much else. One example, he says, is how thriving Chatteris used to be.
"One of the things I find most dispiriting is that youth services are being reduced and things that youths can do are being reduced.
"Developers are changing youth clubs and, for example, the Strikes bowling alley in Ely was brought by the council and turned into an archive.
"A lot of people have been discouraged to move to the area because there is nowhere for teenage children to go - that has to be fixed to make everything else work better."
Having previously stood to become police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire, Rupert's other main focus is on crime - and he hopes to have two extra police officers per ward.
"We need to keep people from being tempted to offend by investing in things for them to do and, most importantly, help them to choose the right path."
That, he says, links to the lack of activities for youths in Fenland. "There used to be lots of stuff - young farmers clubs and church groups, for example - but now we need places for people to mingle in a safe way. I wouldn't know what you can do in March."
Though he's not been doing too much door to door canvassing because "I have trouble with my back as I'm quite tall so when I lean over in the doorway I get pains" - he says the reaction he's received out and about and via email is a big improvement on previous years.
"It's been quite amazing the amount of people that say they will vote for us. It is the best I've felt for a seat in a long time.
"I think it is a big mountain to climb and I'm not sure it will take us all the way but I think we will certainly do better than last time."
So why should people vote for the Liberal Democrats? "Our message is that we need to 'build a brighter future' and that things will get better if we win'.
"Lots of people really do want to get done with Brexit; they are just fed up and want things to improve."