Graham Cox, Conservative candidate for Westbourne, interviewed by Charalampos Xekoukoulotakis (Brighton & Hove Free Press)
Mr. Graham Cox, the former Head of Sussex CID, will be standing in the forthcoming Westbourne by-election as candidate for Brighton & Hove Conservatives.
He has served as a police officer locally for 30 years. As well as serving as Head of Sussex CID, Mr. Cox was Commander of Hove Police during which time he put great emphasis on the importance of uniform patrols.
Mr. Cox includes in his priorities, if he gets elected, the campaign to retain a proper police station in Hove, the freezing of council tax and the opposition of Green Party’s “plans for the highest council tax rise in the country”, the opposition of proposed increases in the cost of parking permits, and the opening of a new primary school in central Hove.
Mr. Cox also expresses his mixed feelings towards the recent strike action taken by the trade unions for the defence of public sector pensions and stresses that he “would work with anyone for the good of the city”.
Why did you decide to fight the Westbourne by-election for the Conservatives?
Graham Cox: “It came as a total surprise when I heard the news that the former councillor, Brian Oxley, was standing down. He had taken the difficult decision to return to Derby and look after his father who is ill. Within two days of Brian resigning, the date of the by election was set. I had worked with Brian when I was the Police Superintendent in Hove and people in the area asked me to stand. I thought about it overnight, and decided I would. There was a contest and the Conservative Party locally selected me from five other candidates. The whole thing only took five days.”
If you get elected, which will be your priorities?
GC: “My priorities will be:
• Campaigning to retain a proper police station in Hove so there is a visible police presence in Westbourne.
• Freezing council tax – opposing the Green Party’s plans for the highest council tax rise in the country.
• Opposing proposed increases in the cost of parking permits.
• Opening a new primary school in central Hove, building on the work of my Conservative colleagues who successfully reopened the Connaught Centre as a new primary school facility. That was good but we still need more school places in the area. My colleague, Andrew Wealls, is championing the idea of a bi-lingual free school in the area and I will be working with educational charities and not for profit organisations to identify opportunities to open other new schools.”
What are your thoughts on the pupil premium? Should parents living in Westbourne be satisfied on this issue by the coalition government?
GC: “I was educated in the state sector. In fact my secondary school was a secondary modern which converted into a comprehensive (afraid that shows my age). That experience makes me very concerned that we provide opportunities for top quality education to all children, especially the poorest who tend to lose out under the current system.
“The pupil premium is an excellent initiative whereby extra funds are given to schools for every child who attends from a poorer background. Academies – a Labour idea which I fully support – and free schools are an excellent way of improving educational opportunity to those who are less fortunate.”
What are your thoughts on the recent strike action taken by trade unions for the defence of the public sector pensions?
GC: “Mixed feelings. I understand why public sector workers wish to fight to retain in full their current pension entitlements. However we are living much longer than when these schemes were conceived and any responsible government would have to take action to reform them. Otherwise we leave our children and grandchildren with a huge bill.
“The deal being offered is not as good as the unions would like, but the pensions are still very good compared to those available to most private sector workers who are often on a lower wage as well. I am hoping that now the strike has taken place the government and unions will be able to sort this out with some compromises on both sides.”
Do you have a special message to your constituents regarding Sussex Police?
GC: “Yes – keep a proper police station in Hove with a base for patrolling police officers.”
Is there any room for collaboration between your party and the Green administration of the Brighton and Hove City Council?
GC: “I would work with anyone for the good of the city. I cannot support the proposed council tax rise. It is not fair on ordinary people who already face a real struggle to make ends meet.”