Michael Lilley with Benson at Appley Park April 2024

MICHAEL LILLEY

Parliamentary Candidate

Liberal Democrat branding white text with yellow bird

Isle of Wight East

MICHAEL LILLEY

Michael Lilley with Benson at Appley Park April 2024

Isle of Wight East

Parliamentary Candidate

Liberal Democrat branding white text with yellow bird

MICHAEL LILLEY

Michael Lilley with Benson at Appley Park April 2024

Isle of Wight East

Parliamentary
Candidate

Liberal Democrat branding white text with yellow bird

Michael’s General Election – FAQs

Now more than ever, the Island’s residents, businesses and the environment deserve a fairer deal

More and more people are turning to the Liberal Democrats to put an end to this terrible Government.

They know that every vote for a Liberal Democrat is a vote to elect a strong local champion who will fight for a fair deal for you and your community.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What are your top three priorities for the Isle of Wight?

Island Equality and Cost of Living
Island residents to have an equal lifestyle to their mainland neighbours with no penalization for living on an Island: including housing they can afford. No young person should feel their only choice is to leave the Island to have a fair chance in life.

Economy and Environment
A sustainable local economic strategy realised through more green enterprises, innovation, skills and employment. A flourishing green Island environment with fair and appropriate access to nature for all. Zero tolerance of sewage releases in our waters.

NHS and Healthcare
Island-wide access to good NHS and public services, strong social safety net for the most vulnerable, and every child has access to an NHS dentist. Mental health must be on the same footing as physical health.

And a fourth
Putting the Island at the forefront

Q. What do you see as your biggest challenge if you were to be elected as Isle of Wight East’s first MP? Why?

The Isle of Wight has huge financial inequality compared with the mainland. Since 2017, I have been the only local Councillor consistently arguing for an Island Act as opposed to an Island Deal and highlighting the inequality of Islanders compared to their neighbours on the mainland.

Islanders earn £75 less median gross weekly earnings than the UK median (Source ONS), and the difference is even greater when compared with either Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton or the South East.

  • The University of Portsmouth undertook a report in 2016 which quantified that the Isle of Wight had an annual deficit of £6M of funding compared with a mainland authority. In 2023, IW Council recalculated this at more like £40M plus.
  • As MP for Isle of Wight East, a key priority would be to work with IW Council and my Isle of Wight West MP colleague to achieve fairer funding from Government for the Island and to introduce an Island Act to distribute local powers to enable proper and complete management of the Island economy. When you break down all the issues facing Islanders it is money related and legislative powers. Isle of Wight needs a fair deal and only legislation can do this.
  • There needs to be separate ferry regulation legislation to tackle one of the principle causes of this Island inequality, and that is the monopoly of unregulated ferries that have made the Solent one on the most expensive stretches of water in the world.
  • My team would be prioritised to work with IW Council from day one to collect the evidence of need and arguments, the legal case, and make the links within Lib Dems in both the House of Commons and Lords to develop a Private Members’ Bill. The late and much respected Stephen Ross (Liberal MP 1974 – 1987) successfully took this route to get the Homelessness Act of 1977 passed. Lib Dem MPs have successfully led a number of Private Members Bills through parliament. The key is to be Island and solution focused.

Q. Our children are our future. They are not currently being served well enough on the island as recent figures illustrate. What plans have you got to ensure that access, quality and results all improve if you get elected?

I agree that our young Islanders are the future and without investment in them, giving them a vision of a prosperous future here on the Island, we risk losing them as they feel forced to leave for better opportunities on the mainland.

  • I personally believed that the partnership with Conservative-controlled Hampshire County Council was detrimental to Education and Children Services on the Island. IW Council taking back full control has been a positive move, enabling residents, schools, parents and children to engage more at local level. I was involved in the appointment of the new Director, and as your MP I would continue to support a new child focused approach to localised Children’s Services support and delivery.
  • Our children need support beyond school and I have strongly encouraged the re-establishment of active youth services in the Isle of Wight for many years. When the Conservative Administration cut all of the funding for youth services in 2017, I spearheaded Ryde Town Council’s move to establish the award-winning Network Ryde Youth Service. This included making sure all children had free access to Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
  • Mirroring the successful repurposing of St Thomas’ Church Ryde as the new Youth Centre, I would continue to support IW Community Action, of which I am a Trustee, in their proposal to convert Sandown Town Hall into an innovative new Youth Centre in the Bay area.
  • Further Education: As Mayor of Ryde I successfully oversaw the establishment of an agreement between Ryde Town Council and University of Portsmouth which is now cascading across the Isle of Wight East Constituency. My vision is to see a university campus on the Island alongside a children’s science museum that links Dinosaur World, the Wight Aviation Museum, the Biosphere and Marine Life that enables green and innovative jobs to be created for Islanders.

Q. Our NHS generally is in crisis. How will you address this unacceptable situation locally and nationally?

Liberal Democrats believe that investing in prevention through public health initiatives and primary care is the most effective way to enhance well-being and reduce the burden on NHS services. The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to train 8,000 more GPs and give pharmacists more prescribing power, as part of a plan to solve the pressures hitting the NHS.

As a former health professional I am actively advocated the health needs of Islanders.

  • I view that the reorganisation of health services on the Island to where all of our health services are controlled from the mainland has impacted negatively on the Island’s health provision, and it is a priority to get stronger control back on the Island.
  • I would fight to reverse this regional decision making to local decision making for Island residents through the Integrated Care Board (ICB). I worked with ICB to make sure Argyll Street Surgery remains open and can become sustainable for the future and I am currently working with Lib Dem Councillor, Sarah Redrup, and local residents to maintain a GP Surgery in Wootton. As your MP, I would continue this fight to ensure local services are saved and can flourish.
  • As Chair of the IW Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care over the last year, I have worked with IW Health Watch to bring NHS and Public Health to account and to listen to the voice of local residents and patients. There is a desperate need for recognition by NHS and Government that the Island has exceptional circumstances and that travelling across the Solent for treatment is costly and traumatic. 

Q. What will you do to address the diminishing care home provision on the Island due to staff shortages?

Staff shortages are a key issue but it is lack of funding from Central Government  that is the biggest issue. IW Council recently offered local care providers an increase of 6% uplift when the care homes had to increase salaries by approximately 9% to retain staff.

  • The diminishing care home provision stems from the fact that the average 20 bed homes on the Island do not qualify for Social Care funding rates from the Local Authority. Without increased payments per social care funded resident, care homes will continue to close. As your MP, I will lobby the Government to recognise the national strain on care costs and fund correctly.
  • The Lib Dems National Policy is to ensure no one has to sell their home to pay for care by introducing free personal care, based on the model introduced by the Scottish Liberal Democrat-Labour government in 2002. Introduce a more generous means test and assistance for those unable to pay for their accommodation costs. Move towards a preventative approach to social care, so people can stay in their own homes for longer. Introduce a real living wage for care workers and invest in skills, professionalisation and accreditation of the workforce. Provide a package to support unpaid carers.
  • As Chair of the IW Policy and Health Scrutiny Committee I have continually raised the danger of destabilising the social care market by the IW Council and the need to work closer with Independent Care providers. The loss of local care homes would mean that our most vulnerable residents could be placed on the mainland at double the cost and an increased burden on their families here, and this is unacceptable. We have to have greater Island partnership working between the public, voluntary and private sectors. 

Q. What do you plan to do to address the lack of NHS dentistry on the Island?

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a plan to “end dental deserts,” including an emergency scheme to guarantee children and young mothers free dental check-ups on the NHS.

Analysis by the Party shows that a shocking 4.5 million children in England didn’t see an NHS dentist last year. Tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged between 6 and 10 years, with over 100,000 children admitted to hospital with rotting teeth since 2018. This is a reality for many children on the Island who live in poverty.

  • As with Social Care, I agree that Government must fund dentists appropriately, recognising the delivery costs and implementing schemes that retain dentists within the NHS framework, rather than a change to private service delivery.
  • As former Chair of IW Policy and Scrutiny Committee I had already started working with NHS Dentists at award-winning Denbigh House, the Isle of Wight’s largest NHS Dentist and NHS commissioners (Integrated Care Board) in partnership with IW Council Public Health and Children’s Services to develop a scheme to ensure not only that NHS Dentists survive on the Island but that services are expanded to give all children on the Island access to dental treatment and preventative care. My main aim on this issue is for the current funding formula for dentists to be changed so not only NHS dentists are retained but also that new ones join them. I have shown as an IW Councillor that you can bring people together and find solutions. However, the rates the Government set for NHS dental treatment needs increasing and this would be one of my priorities as an MP.

Q. Islanders say they’re fed up with the unreliability and cost of ferries. If you were to be elected, how would you tackle these issues?

If elected I would seek legislation to bring ferry companies to account as follows:

  • Government must intervene by a carefully constructed regulator created to address cross Solent ferries alone.
  • The Government should consider at least partial public (majority) ownership of ferries to ensure that profits are not misdirected through a myriad of company structures.
  • Government must act to prevent complex company structures in simple service delivery companies.  This includes legislation to prevent operating companies mitigating their operating profits through complex financial instruments.
  • Pursue an agreement between all the ferry operators and the NHS regarding travel of Island patients across the Solent for treatment that achieves synergy between operators on minimising costs and improvement of the travel experience.

Q. Island Line has been plagued with cancellations for a variety of reasons and has recently reduced its service from every 20 minutes to 40 minutes. What do you think about that?

Island line has received substantial funding to improve the infrastructure and trains to run two per hour to and from the pier head.  SWT must resolve the issues at Brading loop, the pier rails and timetable two trains per hour.  I would call in the ORR ( Office of Road and Rail) to intervene and hold them to account. It is a question of the regulator holding them to account on their service delivery and commitment. Government will need to fund the widespread interventions needed to reduce flood risk.

Q. Flooding has been a big problem over the last few years, for various reasons, particularly in Ryde, Binstead, Gunville and Cowes. What would you do to mitigate the risks and help residents who have had to pay out of their own pockets for repairs and defences?

During the floods in 2023, I worked with residents to get a fair deal and raised funds for the most vulnerable and local charities whose homes and premises were affected.

The Section 19 Flood report has identified the issues that added to the flooding and needs to be acted upon by the three main agencies involved.  The Environment Agency, Southern Water and Island Roads must work in preparation of flooding and introduce the mitigating interventions needed as a collective, not as three individual entities.

I will be asking the Council to create a task force of the three organisations and create a flood prevention plan for the at risk areas.

Q. What are your thoughts on Rishi Sunak’s plans to reintroduce mandatory National Service? Are you for or against bringing it back, in some form?

I find it strange that the Conservatives are announcing this policy when it was they who cut funding for youth services across the country. The past Isle of Wight Conservative Administration also cut funding for the Duke of Edinburgh Award; a scheme that already delivers much of what they want to achieve with the idea of National Service. In response to government cuts, I supported Ryde Town Council (RTC) to establish award-winning Network Ryde Youth Services and secure the funding for the new Town centre based Youth Centre which will open in July 2024. RTC has supported and funded the Duke of Edinburgh Award with many young people across the Island taking part.

Q. What do you think about the East Wight Primary campaign to pick a “progressive” candidate, for people to get behind if they don’t want a Conservative MP? Will you be endorsing this or getting involved?

Hustings where you have all the candidates who are standing being given equal opportunity to participate, leaflets to all residents, answers to questions that are open to all and face to face contact is the fairest way for people to make a choice on who is their preferred candidate. It has always been Lib Dems policy that first past the post needs to change to make elections fairer and I commend the proportional representation sentiments within the EWP campaign. However, Lib Dems policy is also not to endorse or get involved with primaries and I hope my record of championing the needs of local people over the past 8 years as a local Councillor substantially demonstrates my commitment to our local communities.

Q. How do you plan to address the current state of cross Solent travel?

If elected I would seek legislation to bring ferry companies to account as follows:

  • Government must intervene by a carefully constructed regulator created to address cross Solent ferries alone.
  • The Government should consider at least partial public (majority) ownership of ferries to ensure that profits are not misdirected through a myriad of company structures.
  • Government must act to prevent complex company structures in simple service delivery companies.  This includes legislation to prevent operating companies mitigating their operating profits through complex financial instruments.
  • Pursue an agreement between all the ferry operators and the NHS regarding travel of Island patients across the Solent for treatment that achieves synergy between operators on minimising costs and improvement of the travel experience.

Q. There is a need for homes on the Island to address a shortage of housing that matches the local situation, especially for those looking to rent.

How would you seek to create more homes for Islanders whilst balancing the environmental costs of more buildings?

All housing development must be partially subsidised – through grants or loans – to allow for affordable building costs to be met.  All homes must approach zero carbon efficiencies and developments must mitigate and approach net zero targets for the development community impact.

The Isle of Wight was awarded Biosphere Reserve status by UNESCO in 2019 and the only the 7th place in UK to achieve this. It is recognition of the unique combination of nature, people and places that makes up our beautiful Island. It is about communities and the environment working together in an increasingly sustainable way. We have to make sure all future developments that are built on the Island are balanced which supply housing that is needed at a price Islanders can afford whether to buy or rent but protect nature and green and blue space (land and marine).

The Branstone development in Isle of Wight East is a good example of social housing for rent, creating local jobs such as Goddard’s Brewery, and designed in a green environmental way alongside nature.

We particular need all housing development on the Island to focus on affordable social housing for rent and by 2028 have no Islanders in emergency accommodation due to homelessness.

I have a strong connection with Vectis Housing Association, which has built the majority of social houses to rent on the Island and we need to get more finance for local social housing providers and IW Council directly to vigorously build housing for those in need.

Q. What are your plans for addressing the sewage discharges across the island? How will you call Southern Water to account?

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found since 2020, water companies have discharged sewage into bathing water areas 105,347 times, equating to a staggering 694,487 hours’ worth of sewage.

The key is to vote for stronger regulation, director personal penalties and insist upon investment plans and timetables for water companies to replace and renew the existing failing water infrastructure system on the Island.

I have been working with “Surfers against Sewage” for some time and have campaigned solidly on this issue. It was the Lib Dems motion that successfully brought this issue to IW Council and to get behind the commitment to hold Southern Water to account and stop any sewage discharges into the sea by 2030.

I have been the principal green advocate on the IW Council since 2017 and it was my successful motion that led to IW Council declaring a Climate Emergency and establishing a Climate and Biosphere strategy.

I am a member of the Green Lib Dems within the Lib Dems Party, and this part of the Lib Dems Party is pushing policy on new plans to protect coastal marine wildlife, which would see the expansion of the blue belt of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to cover at least 50% of the UK territorial waters by 2030. This would mean increasing the MPAs around the Island. The Lib Dems plan to abolish Ofwat, introducing a new regulator with greater powers, as well as a ban on water company executive bonuses.

Q. How can the Isle of Wight and its residents be more resilient to the effects of climate change in relation to flooding and land slippage on the island?

The Isle of Wight has traditionally experienced constant relative humidity levels between 79% and 83%. Rainfall patterns on the Isle of Wight are variable with the least rainfall occurring in the summer months (24mm) and the most rainfall occurring in the autumn and winter months (63mm in November). In 2023, this has dramatically changed with 110 mm in August, 64 mm in September, 250 mm in October, and 200 mm in November. This accounts for an increase of rainfall by 100%.

During the floods in 2023, I worked with residents to get a fair deal and raised funds for the most vulnerable residents and local charities whose homes and premises were affected.

The Environment Agency Section 19 Flood report on recent floods has identified the issues that added to the flooding and needs to be acted upon by the three main agencies involved.  The Environment Agency, Southern Water and Island Roads must work in preparation for flooding and introduce the mitigating interventions needed as a collective, not as three individual entities. I will be asking the IW Council to create a task force of the three organisations and create a flood prevention plan for the at risk areas.

Since last year I have had an on-going petition Petition · Save Isle of Wight from Environmental Realities of Climate Change! – United Kingdom · Change.org

This torrential rain near coastal settlements such as Ryde and Ventnor is causing serious flooding and landslips which is seeing residents losing their homes and livelihoods. The IW Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2018 and in 2023 we are seeing the realities of the Emergency. I believe there has to be a total rethink of coastal planning and infrastructure and massive investment in making sure coastal towns and villages are climate change proofed for the long term future.

Q. What is your position on calling for a ceasefire in Gaza?

I do not believe that continued military conflict is acceptable, required or desired.  A political solution has to be the clarion call.  I will vote for an immediate bilateral ceasefire as continually pursued by the Lib Dems.  I will call for the international community to press for such a ceasefire with my Lib Dems colleagues.

I am a member of the Lib Dems Friends of Palestine group Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (ldfp.org.uk) but also have Jewish heritage. I worked professionally for many years as a community and counselling psychologist with a specialism of post-traumatic stress and particularly worked with victims and survivors of wars and conflict from around the world seeking refuge in UK including Palestine.

Layla Moran MP is the Liberal Democrats’ Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and is British-Palestinian. She is the only MP who has a very direct connection with Palestine and speaks strongly with a personal and inside knowledge of the conflict and my personal views are strongly aligned with hers and the national Lib Dems position on Gaza.

The Liberal Democrats have consistently advocated for a bilateral ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Their position emphasises the need for immediate action to address the crisis.

Q. How do you (or your party) propose to arrange safe routes for those seeking asylum and manage the small boats issue?

I worked with refugees and asylum seekers for my most of my working life including refugees from Rwanda. I only ever found the refugees as genuinely fleeing from inhumane and near death experiences.

The Conservative Government’s current policy on immigration and asylum seekers is something I find hard to understand. We all want to see an end to dangerous crossings on small boats across the Channel, but their legislation will do nothing of the sort. Instead, Conservative plans would see those fleeing war and persecution detained and deported.  It would cost the taxpayer huge sums of money and, far from cracking down on illegal trafficking gangs, would punish those seeking safety in the UK.

It also runs roughshod over international law, which confirms that asylum seekers should not be punished for how they arrive in a country. Liberal Democrats know that the best way to stop these dangerous crossings is to provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for those that need it. We would call for the scrapping of the Illegal Migration Act/Planes to Rwanda. Fix the broken asylum system by taking powers from the Home Office and establishing a new, dedicated unit to make decisions quicker and more fairly.

Provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees from all countries, including:

  • An expanded, properly funded resettlement scheme.
  • A new scheme for unaccompanied child refugees.
  • Reuniting unaccompanied children in Europe with family in the UK.
  • Humanitarian visas to allow asylum seekers to travel the UK to proceed with their claims.

The UK has a proud and long-standing tradition of opening its arms and providing sanctuary to those in need of protection. The Conservative government has trashed that legacy. Now, more than ever, we cannot turn our backs on those who need us.

Q. Why do you believe that you would be the most likely candidate to defeat the Conservatives in East Wight?

An Island MP not a Westminster MP – A local person with track record!

I have a strong enthusiastic campaign team of all ages that is in place and getting our message out there. I have the track record, the human and financial resources to sustain a campaign and gain a Lib Dems win in Isle of Wight East.

The fact is the only political party that has ever defeated the Conservatives on the Isle of Wight in the last one hundred years is the Liberals/Lib Dems in 1974 (twice), 1979, 1983 and 1997. Both candidates, the late Stephen Ross and the late Peter Brand, were respected and established IW Councillors with a strong local track record of getting things done. I fit this description.

The Lib Dems on the Isle of Wight at local level have been the only party to defeat the Conservatives decisively in local elections in the last 18 months.

The last by-election in August 2023, Isle of Wight East’s Wootton area, Sarah Redrup of the Lib Dems won with 47.8% to the Conservatives 29.27%.  This pattern of Lib Dems victory has been duplicated across South Central England with Lib Dems beating the Conservatives and taking control of local councils in the 2024 local elections such as Dorset.

I am the only candidate other than the conservative candidate that is an IW Councillor in the Isle of Wight East Constituency and the only one with 8 years experience. I held my Ryde Appley and Elmfield Ward with 78% of the vote in 2021.

I have never lost an election whether for IW or Ryde Town Council and have an established team of supporters and volunteers around me.

As Mayor of Ryde for 4 years and I oversaw the survival of the town during Covid19 and into the cost of living crisis, and its subsequent economic growth and attracting investment of over £40M.

The above local grounded experience will enable me to cascade this across the Isle of Wight East Constituency.

Like Stephen Ross and Peter Brand, I am a respected and established IW Councillor, and I have held roles of IW Mental Health Champion, Vice-Chair of the IW Council, Chair of Planning, Chair and Vice-Chair of Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care.

I have been also very active in the Isle of Wight voluntary sector for many years being a founder member director of Wight Community Energy and Wight Aviation Museum, and a trustee/director of IW Youth Trust and IW Community Action, and as Chair of the Voluntary Forum including through Covid19. The last word is from the people of Isle of Wight East.

Jo an Isle of Wight East resident says:

“I have every confidence that Michael, if elected as MP, will keep the Island community in his heart, and at the forefront of his priorities, even at Westminster. That’s why he will get my vote.”

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