Lib Dem deputy leader visits town

Cllr Simon Galton, Cllr Phil Knowles, Simon Hughes MP - Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Barbara Johnson, Cllr Sarah Hill, Cllr Julie Simpson
Cllr Simon Galton, Cllr Phil Knowles, Simon Hughes MP - Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Barbara Johnson, Cllr Sarah Hill, Cllr Julie Simpson

LIB Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes MP visited Harborough on Saturday. Mail reporter Elinor O’Neill went to meet him:

Mr Hughes, who is MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, was in town to visit members of the Harborough branch of the Lib Dem group.

He said: “I have been to Harborough and campaigned in town in support of the team before and I try and keep a particularly close eye on the East Midlands, especially since the last election when we lost a seat in the East Midlands.

“This is a key port, in terms of agriculture and rural matters. If the Midlands is doing well then Britain is doing well and in the current economic climate the difference is really, really important.

“So we do what we can do to help small, local and medium businesses and are looking for ideas about what people think the Government can do to improve things.

“Nick Clegg announced a huge investment in employment today which I support. I have been working with him to make sure we can be doing all we can to make sure 16 year olds don’t go straight from school into doing nothing.

“What I have been trying to get across to every school in the last year is to let people know there are options to people in school. One is to stay on for the sixth form if appropriate, sixth form college or school of some form.

“One way is to go on to further or higher education and I hope that everyone gets that nobody has to pay fees before they go or while they’re there, only when they’re past the £21,000 [income] a will they start paying back from £7.50 a month, and that is worth it.

“We need to get the language away from repayments and debts and costs to benefits.

“The third thing really is building up apprenticeships. Talking to people about what we can do more in Harborough, Oadby and Wigston to get small and large firms to offer young people the opportunity of work after us specifically going out to reach these young people.

“There are UK firms who say they will now recruit internationally, these firms have told me the other day. In this part of the world they say they have great difficulty in recruiting British employees but employ people who are qualified and more personable and I think we really need to make sure we equip young people with the skills to get the jobs.

“The last thing is not to put young people off going to work straight from school, letting them get qualifications later if appropriate. And I believe we shouldn’t put young people off doing part time jobs, from working on the farms if they live in a rural area or for shops if they live in urban areas.

“Young people complain they are getting really bad career advice and poor work experience and we have got to change that as it makes it difficult to get jobs.

“If you have good work experience it teaches you and may get you a good reference or a job. We just have to do all we can not to leave young people on the scrap heap.”