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News | Published December 03 2019

Election Interview: Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hazel Grove

In the run up to December's General Election, our election correspondent Joshua Sandiford will be creating profiles of key marginal constituencies around the country, combining the key statistics with interviews with the major candidates. In this article, Joshua interviews Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hazel Grove

Lisa Smart is a councillor for Bredbury Green and Romiley and the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council.

This will be her third time at running to become the Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove. 

Describing Hazel Grove as her home, she says she absolutely "loves" her job and is eager to represent local residents at a national level while keeping local concerns front and centre. 

Smart's main opponent will be the the current MP, William Wragg, who won the seat in 2017 with a slim majority of just 5,514.

Smart is hoping she will be able to overturn this majority by promising to resolve Brexit, ensure proper funding for public services and help confront the climate emergency.

How is the campaign going so far?

It's loads of fun, I enjoy campaigning. I'm a local councillor and have stood for election then, and I also enjoy helping get colleagues elected.

I enjoy chatting to people and I think it's a great opportunity to get out and listen to what people are really thinking. There are loads of people who have no filter whatsoever, they will tell you exactly what they think. 

We've got loads of volunteers turning up which is great, and lots of real engagement with people. I'm enjoying it a lot.

I enjoy chatting to people and I think it's a great opportunity to get out and listen to what people are really thinking.

This is your third time standing in Hazel Grove, does anything feel different this time?

People are much more engaged than lots of commentators are expecting, people really do want to talk on their doorstep. 

There was an expectation at the start of the campaign from lots of journalists and commentators that nobody wanted an election and nobody wanted politics to interrupt their lives whereas on the doorstep, people are genuinely interested and want to have a conversation, they're really engaged.

People are much more engaged than lots of commentators are expecting, people really do want to talk on their doorstep. 

How do you think the people of Hazel Grove are feeling right now?

I think that the phrase that comes up more than any other is "what a mess" and there is a desire across the [political] spectrum for people to do something about that, that's the feeling that comes across. 

The subjects that are coming up on the doorstep, yes it's Brexit and for some people, that's the only thing they'll be voting on, but for an awful lot more people it's the health service and other bread and butter political issues that we all want to get stuff done on.

I think that the phrase that comes up more than any other is "what a mess" and there is a desire across the [political] spectrum for people to do something about that

What will be your top priorities if you get elected?

One way or another, Brexit needs to be resolved, because it has been crowding out everything else for the last three and a half years. 

I want to stop Brexit because I don't think there is a better deal out there than being a member of the EU. But the things I want to focus on are things like ensuring we've got really great local health services and that we've got schools that are properly funded. 

As a school governor, I see the challenges of a school that doesn't have enough funding to give the children the education we want to give them.

The climate emergency is something we'd be talking about much more if Brexit wasn't taking up all the oxygen in the room. Brexit wasn't invented when I started campaigning and I think it is those other issues that actually a lot of people want to get cracking on.

I want to stop Brexit because I don't think there is a better deal out there than being a member of the EU. 

Can you tell me about your time as a local councillor? What you did before that and how will those skills help you if you do get elected as MP for Hazel Grove?

I'm a Liberal Democrat councillor for Bredbury Green and Romiley and I'm the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, which is a job I absolutely love. The key thing I love about it is that it enables you to get stuff done and that's what I really enjoy. Being able to get things done for people, I find that really satisfying.

It might seem like a really small issue for somebody, it could be something as straightforward as putting some double yellow lines on a junction, but actually, if people who are using that junction are scared every time they go out because they can't see, it actually changes people's lives in a really positive way.

I also train and support Liberal Democrat councillors in the north which is something I really enjoy as well.

 As well as that, I sit on a few different boards and committees and I'm a director of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. Before all that I used to work in finance. I was a director of client relationships for a finance company and my client's pension funds and charities and foundations.

I was presenting to chief investment officers and chief executive officers as well as the worker's representatives on those pension fund boards. An ability to work with people at all levels, whether they are really senior or not, is useful for getting stuff done, whoever you are working with. 

As a councillor, working your way through an issue with somebody and speaking up on behalf of a local resident with an issue they're having, you can make change happen. Using the influence you have as a councillor is a skill that I would bring.

I'm a Liberal Democrat councillor for Bredbury Green and Romiley and I'm the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, which is a job I absolutely love. 

What is your favourite thing about your constituency?

It's my home. It's a great place to walk my dog Bonnie and it's a beautiful part of the world, it really is.

And finally, what's your message to the people of Hazel Grove?

We need somebody to stand up for us locally and to get stuff done.

Some people are voting entirely on national issues, some entirely on local issues, however, you're deciding to vote, think about who you want to be your MP.

We need somebody to stand up for us locally and to get stuff done.

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Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
@theparlreview
December 03 2019

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