The Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls spoke about a “lost decade” when he visited Bedford today to give a speeech as part of his party’s summer campaign.
Ed Balls, who was introduced by Labour’s Parliamentary Prospective Candidate for Bedford Patrick Hall, discussed the future of Bedford Hospital, his plans to review the role of Police and Crime Commisioners (PCC) including Olly Martins in Bedfordshire, and why the economy is still in the middle of a ‘lost decade’.
On the future of the town’s Hospital the MP said: “We are determined to save the NHS. It’s under threat from re-organisation and the competitive market. A decision on Bedford Hopsital should be on the advice of clinicians about what is best for local people and what would mean they get the best treatment. This should be the base on which things are decided rather than finance and deficits and the competitve environment.”
Mr Balls said of police budget cuts: “The government decided to go for 20% cuts and made the biggest cuts in the beginning which isn’t possible to do without damaging the frontline. Bedford’s discovering it now in losing officers.”
He also revealed Labour is reviewing PCCs. He said: “A huge amount of money is being wasted on PCC elections. We are looking to find ways to find future savings allowing more investment in frontline policing here in Bedford. We have always been skeptical having one person directly elected. It leads to complications with the Chief Constable and is expensive. We have been looking at different options. We haven’t reached a final view but I think there is a better and more cost effective way to do this.”
On the economy he said: “It’s 0.2% bigger. But the population is considerably bigger than 0.2% bigger so GDP per head is still lower than in 2007. We won’t reach those levels for three years. We are in a lost decade where living standards are falling. The jobs we are creating at the moment are lower paid, more part-time, more insecure, jobs which don’t make work pay. My message to Bedford voters is 2015 is the most vital election in a generation. I don’t think the NHS will survive another five years under a Tory Government. People in Bedford know we have to reform Europe but walking out of Europe will mean jobs and investment will go down and everything we have seen in the last four years says the Tories won’t stand up for working people.”