Labour Party candidate: Emily Clarke
I work at a Lewes primary school as an Individual Needs Assistant to children with special educational needs. I am a mother of two young boys, a Labour Party activist and community campaigner.
I also run the Lewes Community Drop-In for Parents & Carers (based at our Lewes Labour Constituency Office) with the aim to offer a free and open-to-all space for parents and Carers and their pre-school children to meet, talk, play and seek support. The Drop-In offers valuable services that we’ve lost in Lewes due to Tory cuts, such as free music and sing along sessions for toddlers, a toy bank and swap shop, enabling those on a low income to provide new toys for their children. It is also a space to talk about issues that are affecting us in our community and these discussions have lead to successful campaigns such as the Goodnight Govia Pyjama Protest outside Lewes station in September 2016, which called on the government to strip Govia of their franchise and highlighted the failings of the Southern Rail service which has had such a terrible impact on commuters, their families and businesses here in Lewes as well as our neighbouring towns of Seaford and Newhaven.
My Campaign for the East Sussex County Council
- Affordable childcare – this is a big issue affecting many families in Lewes. East Sussex County Council has just closed a consultation on the government’s 30 free hours childcare offer for 3 and 4 year old children of working parents, before it rolls out nationally in September 2017. They have asked local parents what childcare they think they will need in the future to ‘work with providers to make places available’. In Lewes, with waiting lists for the most popular sessions at the most popular nurseries, and the recent closure of the YCMA, a relatively affordable option for parents on a low wage, I want to ensure that the council works to create a sufficient number of providers, of sufficient quality. If the 30 free hours initiative is to be anything more than an empty promise to encourage parents back to work, it is essential that the data from the consultation leads to further places being made available in time. This will be a priority if I am elected in May
- Food banks – Following regular collections of food for Landport Food Bank, I decided to launch #241forFoodBanks, a campaign aiming to raise awareness of food poverty and increase donations to food banks that help an increasing number of people locally who’ve reached crisis point financially. As our network of supporters grows, I hope to put pressure on the government to fund research into the causes of food poverty in the U.K. and implement realistic solutions to stop food waste. I believe that more can and should be done to address this locally under East Sussex County Council’s Public Health remit and this is something I plan to take forward if I am elected.
I will continue to listen to the residents of Lewes town and fight hard for the issues that matter the most. I will work in a collaborative way to improve our brilliant town for everyone and give a voice to those who are under-represented in our community.
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Emily is at our North Street offices every Saturday morning from 9-11am running a Community Surgery where you can raise any local issue you want. She has also just announced a new initiative to help Lewes’ growing homeless population by giving out hot soup every Sunday on Cliffe Bridge between 4-5pm.