“I am in this to fight for the rights of our residents”

Anusha Singh Wednesday 03rd April 2024 06:59 EDT

Smita Rajesh, a politician representing the Liberal Democrats, serves as both a Chelmsford City Councillor and a Parliamentary Candidate for North West Essex. With a dedication to community service spanning 15 years, she has actively engaged at the grassroots level, advocating for underrepresented individuals in society. Rajesh was initially elected as a Chelmsford City Councillor in November 2019 and subsequently re-elected in 2023.

In an interview with Asian Voice, she discusses her election candidacy, the main issues she plans to address and the key initiatives being undertaken by the Liberal Democrats.

As a Liberal Democrat politician and Chelmsford City Councillor, what inspired you to enter the world of politics, and what values do you bring to your candidacy for North West Essex?

The main theme has been to make people feel confident about themselves for better inclusion and cohesion with the larger society. In 2019, one of the LibDem councillors who frequented the community events that I helped organise suggested that I should join them. It was the push I needed as my father also kept telling me that I would be able to help communities more if I went into active politics.

I joined politics because I am dedicated to serving the community and I believe this is a positive way to do so. As a North West Essex parliamentary candidate, I bring my deep-rooted love for the community, positivity, and the intention to serve them to the best of my capabilities.

What are the main issues you aim to address in your campaign, and how do you plan to represent the interests of the constituents in North West Essex?

I love talking to people and listening to them, door-knocking and finding out the issues that affect residents. The main issue that North West Essex residents face is that all patients are struggling to see their GPs or at the hospital despite needing medical advice, especially our elderly. It's not right that our community is suffering due to this government's neglect of the National Health Service. I continue to fight for our residents and the Liberal Democrats are calling for a rescue plan for our health services, bringing in a carer's minimum wage to tackle staff shortages in social care.

The second issue that people are worried about is the environment. The raw sewage dumping is not only polluting our rivers but is a health risk to many. This level of pollution is unacceptable and the government sides with the water companies that haven't bothered to update their storm tanks for years despite the rising population in the area.  I visited the local Waste Water Treatment Works and investigated their workings. Local Liberal Democrat councillors successfully put forward a motion to the Uttlesford district council raising concerns over the threat to local wildlife. I, along with the Liberal Democrats, continue to press the government to do more.

No one listens to the people of North West Essex. Their voices are being muted by this government and their power is taken away from their hands. They need town planning that works for them and serves their requirements. They need affordable and green housing that young people can afford. I continue to visit people, talk at their doorstep and fight for the issues they feel strongly about.

How do you differentiate yourself and your party's platform from other candidates and political parties running in the upcoming elections?

The most important differentiation between other party candidates and myself for the Liberal Democrats is that we take pride in working closely with the community to ensure that we represent their needs in Parliament. We care. I am not a career politician, I am in this to fight for the rights of our residents and serve them to the best of my capabilities.

Can you highlight some of the key initiatives or policies that you and the Liberal Democrats are advocating for, particularly concerning the local community and broader national issues?

Recently, a proposal was put forward by the Liberal Democrats to allow people who fall sick due to illegal sewage dumping to claim compensation, an issue faced in both North West Essex and nationally. I was saddened to hear that Kemi Badenoch voted against this proposal when this is one of the most pertinent issues faced by the residents of North West Essex.

Finally, what message would you like to convey to the voters of North West Essex as they consider their choices in the upcoming elections?

I would like to convey to people that they should remember that the real power is in their hands. They have the power to throw out the government that's failing them, is ignoring their needs and vote for a candidate that will serve them not just serve themselves.

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