General Election 2024: The Weston-super-Mare candidates in their own words

-Credit: (Image: (clockwise from top left) Daniel Aldridge, Thomas Daw, Patrick Keating, John Penrose, Richard Pearse)
-Credit: (Image: (clockwise from top left) Daniel Aldridge, Thomas Daw, Patrick Keating, John Penrose, Richard Pearse)

Weston-super-Mare is heading to the polls on July 4 to elect its Member of Parliament — and there are five candidates who want your vote.

Conservative John Penrose has represented Britain’s most iconic seaside town in Parliament for almost 20 years, first elected in 2005. Labour’s Dan Aldridge is hoping to win the town for Labour for the first time, as MRP polls have suggested could happen, while Liberal Democrat councillor Patrick Keating is hoping the town will once again elect a Liberal Democrat MP, as it did in 1997 and 2001.

Thomas Daw, elected to North Somerset Council as a Green councillor last year, is hoping to become one of the youngest MPs in the country if elected. Meanwhile Richard Pearse, standing for Reform, is hoping to enter politics after a career in business, academia, and the military.

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Here are the candidates in their own words:

Daniel Aldridge, Labour

Daniel Aldridge, Labour candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Daniel Aldridge
Daniel Aldridge, Labour candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Daniel Aldridge

Weston is my home, it’s where my family lives and it’s the only place I could ever imagine fighting for at Westminster.

Weston became our home the first time we arrived for a family caravan holiday in 2000. We fell in love with the place, the people and the sunsets.

It’s been the best home to us these past twenty-four years, helping our family to thrive and grow, with a new generation at school here in Weston – I will always put Weston first because this is where my family, my heart and my soul is.

I’ve been fighting for people’s rights for over two decades, forging relationships with senior politicians and leaders to deliver national projects to tackle violence, improve education for our most vulnerable, and make sure everyone has the digital skills necessary to thrive in our modern world.

I have a powerful, well-connected network ready to be activated in the service of our town, to get Weston back on its feet, and start to build back our high streets, our communities and our pride.

14 years of a chaotic Tory government disinterested in supporting towns like ours, hell-bent on destroying what we love, has left our hospital, GPs and dentists on their knees, the highest cost of living crisis since the war and the return of destitution to the streets of Weston.

It doesn’t have to be like this, we deserve so much more. I promise to transform the relationship between our people, our town and Westminster. As an activist, I know we have to work together constructively to solve the biggest problems we face, the future can be brighter, if we vote for it.

Thomas Daw, Green

Thomas Daw, Green candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Thomas Daw
Thomas Daw, Green candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Thomas Daw

I believe the Greens have a real chance of winning here.

In 2019 residents voted the Conservatives to represent us in parliament but a lot has changed since then. We’ve had hundreds of new houses and significant boundary changes, cutting out rural conservative areas. I think the most important change is the conservatives, they have broken the trust of almost everyone here, this gives us the chance to elect someone else to represent Weston. With the other parties seeming to be leaving Weston behind, like Reform standing a candidate that lives in Devon, I am ready to be that member of parliament.

The message we are getting back on the doorstep reflects this and isn’t a surprise but what is a surprise is the lack of confidence in labour. Most just don’t know what our candidate stands for. This is where we have been taking the lead. I have run my campaign on a solid set of ambitious but realistic achievements if I was to win. I have been open and honest with voters about what I can achieve and have given a level of honesty that we really lack in current politics.

I have pledged that I would work to reopen our 24hr A&E with a clear long-term plan to use our local college to train the next generation of staff. This would give us a sustainable future for our local NHS. We also must address the dire situation around GPs that will take the pressure off our hospital.

I am committed to putting people before profit by pushing other parties to:

  • fighting for the renationalisation of water companies but also holding to account those who have caused this crisis.

  • Working with our local authorities to fix the pothole epidemic and build more affordable and accessible homes, getting you the services you deserve.

  • Resolving the cost-of-living/inequality crisis with plans for new and improved workers rights and pay, including NHS staff.

  • Increasing living standards by removing no fault eviction, introducing rent caps and a £40 uplift in disability benefits.

  • A 1% wealth tax on assets over £10mil and an increase in capital gains tax to be inline with income tax.

Patrick Keating, Liberal Democrat

Patrick Keating, Liberal Democrat candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Patrick Keating
Patrick Keating, Liberal Democrat candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Patrick Keating

I am excited to be standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Weston-super-Mare, Worle and the nearby villages in the upcoming general election.

People across the town are crying out for change and for an MP that will stand up and fight for a fair deal for everyone.

I have a strong track record of delivering positive change, serving our community and being a strong voice for residents, as a school governor, charity trustee, and since 2019 as a local councillor. As a North Somerset councillor, I have stood up for residents, and asked hard questions of the council leadership – regardless of party affiliation.

I have a long career in both large and small businesses, so I know how the real world works, and how to cooperate with a wide range of people to get things done.

The Liberal Democrats have a strong manifesto that will deliver the fair deal people in Weston – and across the country – are demanding.

We will tackle the cost of living crisis and ensure that people have a fair deal on housing. As MP I will work with the Council to ensure Weston gets the funding and investment it needs to boost our high street, fix our roads and make sure that we have the housing we need.

We will fight to ensure that everyone has access to GPs and dentists, and finally solve the social care crisis. The Liberal Democrats have a plan to increase GP numbers and cut hospital waiting lists – and I would lead the campaign to get our A&E back open overnight.

And we will crack down on the companies dumping waste in our seas and rivers to protect our natural environment.

Across the country, it looks like Labour are heading for a big win, so on 4 July please vote for a strong local champion - and for what you believe in - by supporting Patrick Keating and the Liberal Democrats. In the last 100 years, only the Liberal Democrats have beaten the Conservatives in Weston-super-Mare.

Richard Pearse, Reform UK

Richard Pearse, Reform candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse, Reform candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:Richard Pearse

I'm Richard Pearse, the Reform UK parliament candidate for WsM. I was raised in the West Country by a single mother in social housing with my five brothers. This experience has given me a deep appreciation for family loyalty, education, and hard work while standing up for the vulnerable in society and love for our country.

At seventeen, I completed the 'All Arms Commando Course' at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines and served with 29 Commando RA, Plymouth, after earning my 'Green Beret'. I am a former widower with children and happily remarried to a qualified nurse. Our marriage is interracial, and my wife's parents are from Uganda and Guyana.

Professional Experience - After leaving the military, I worked as a rural postman, night shift baker, and taxi driver, providing me with valuable insight into dealing with people. I then obtained a degree in Business & Accountancy from the University of Exeter. Later, I pursued an MBA and completed my PhD while teaching management. I left academia to apply my research findings in the financial services industry, where I assisted small businesses and individuals. I am a 'Fellow' of the Institute of Consultancy and a 'Chartered Manager and Fellow' of the Chartered Management Institute. I retired early at the age of 55.

Weston worries me due to the significant problems our community faces. There is widespread poverty and deprivation, as well as a growing issue with knife crime. The A&E department closes at 10:00 p.m. instead of being open 24/7, making it challenging to access urgent medical care. Getting a dental or GP appointment is also a struggle. Traffic congestion is prevalent, and the lack of proper rail connection between Bristol and a poor bus service stresses travel plans and unnecessary air pollution. Our local businesses, especially tourism, suffer from inferior water quality, leading to health problems for water users and a decline in tourism. The housing crisis continues to deepen. These issues deeply concern me. Weston has the potential to be much more, and we can achieve positive change by working together as a community.

John Penrose, Conservative

John Penrose, Conservative candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:John Penrose
John Penrose, Conservative candidate for Weston-super-Mare -Credit:John Penrose

Weston, Worle and the nearby villages have been making huge progress recently. Our unemployment is low – much better than the national average – and my Jobs Fair has been matching local employers and jobseekers for over 10 years. The Banwell bypass is underway after decades of waiting and we’ve made big improvements to the motorway junction over the years. We’ve got Weston hospital growing for the first time in ages, treating more patients for a wider variety of problems; the new diagnostic centre just opened to cut waiting times for medical tests; and Weston has thousands more GP appointments each month now than last year. We’ve won £millions of Government cash to breathe fresh life into Weston seafront and town centre, Birnbeck Pier has been rescued - now pending repairs - and Weston has 13% more police today than in 2019.

But there’s more to do. We must cut jams building up again around J21, and we need even more investment and well-paid jobs to keep our unemployment down. We’ve got to regenerate central Weston to make local homes more affordable and stop urban sprawl on greenfields. We need those new bobbies out on the beat, visibly policing for residents, visitors and businesses. And more NHS Dentists to go alongside our expanding hospital and GP surgeries. And we’ve got to deliver Net-Zero affordably, so we grow both cleanly and cheaply.

Despite all this local progress, the last few years have been tough. Everyone knows the pandemic and the war in Ukraine weren’t caused by anyone here in Britain, but they’ve affected us all. Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme saved millions of jobs during COVID, we’ve got the economy growing strongly and inflation is back under control, but the job isn’t done: NHS waiting lists are coming down, but they aren’t short enough yet. Traditional crime has been falling steadily, but online frauds and scams are picking up. Schools and skills have carried on improving, but the after-effects of lockdowns on pupils remain.

So we’ve done a lot, but there’s more to do. With your support, I will keep pushing to fix these remaining problems. ‘Ever forward’, as our town’s motto says!