Saturday, June 22, 2024

Green candidate in Newbury

note:   Our Democracy Reporter, Niki Hinman, has invited all the candidates in the Newbury and Reading West & Mid Berkshire to answer her questions. We will be publishing the candidates responses as they are received.

The Green candidate for the Newbury Parliamentary seat says he is standing to help protect his grandchildren’s future.

Steve Masters is  54, and works in the renewables sector.  He is a current Newbury town councillor and former West Berkshire Council councillor.

He spoke to our local democracy reporter Niki Hinman.

Steve grew up in a small mining village in West Yorkshire, and witnessed what he describes as the brutal horror of the miners strike.

“This probably shaped my sense of pride in communities,” he said.

“Community cohesion is vital if society is to function. Communities, individuals as well as the state have a responsibility to nurture, protect and enhance people’s lives.

“We are stronger together and for too long the focus has been about the individual rather than communities.

“That is why I work with groups like Eight Bells, the community cafe in Speen, warm space across Newbury and West Berkshire.

While serving my country I was deployed on operations across the world.

“After leaving the RAF I worked in London for an internet TV company dedicated to cycling. I then worked with a professional cycling team organising their fan cycling tours.

“I once rode the whole route of the Tour de France (2010) with a number of guests in the same number of days as the professionals. I’ve also featured in a BBC show that follows the RAF team cycling 3,000 miles across America in less than six days.

“I have worked in mental health rehabilitation and that is how I became involved in Eight Bells For Mental health here in Newbury. I’m incredibly proud of what we did as a team, building the charity up from living hand to mouth to being financially more stable and offering a great network of support by and on behalf of the members.

“I have three sons, two grandsons and a granddaughter, it is for those who I am fighting hard to protect their future.”

1:   What made you run for office?

Having been a Engineer in the Royal Air Force for almost two decades, public service has been central to my life. As the son a prison officer and grandson of a Second World War Lancaster aircrewman public service is in my blood. Since leaving the RAF that service has continued, through voluntary work and recently elected office, once again serving the people of Newbury and West Berkshire. Standing in the General Election is merely the next step. Being chosen to represent Newbury in parliament would be the greatest honour of my life.

2:  Do you have family/partner and what do they think of you running for Parliament?

My parter is also running for election in the Reading West and Mid Berkshire constituency so we support each other, we have already been out in each other’s constituencies leafleting. We don’t live together so even though politics is a big part of our lives together we have our own spaces to which we can retreat should the pressure build. Political life is all consuming and having a partner who lives that too is an asset, I think it would be very tough putting in the hours I do otherwise.

3:  When did your interest in politics take hold?

Even while serving in the RAF I was politically aware but never actually voted until I had left in 2004. I returned to education in 2010 (History degree, dissertation on lack of women in the historical record of Thatcham through the life of Anna Munro a suffrage campaigner who lived in West Berkshire)

and connected the environmental concerns to the social challenges we were facing and still face after the crash in 08/09.

Without tackling social inequality we won’t be able to tackle the huge threat that is climate change and biodiversity loss. We have to bring all our citizens with us. I joined the Green Party in 2015 and became active locally shortly after.

4: Why do you think people will vote for you/your party?

The Greens offer a more collaborative approach to the ugly, divisive nature of politics these days, but at the same time we offer an honest view of things.

Our elected councillors here in Newbury and West Berkshire have time and time again voted with all parties when we believe that the issue is the best for residents, that differs from others who often talk about collaboration but fail to act on that more often than not.

When I listen to residents across the district they say how fed up with politicians they are. It is great to hear that they see us a real alternative to the status quo.

5:  Beating the campaign trail means you are speaking to people on the doorstep. What are they saying to you?

They are telling me it’s our time, very few are dismissive and no one has been aggressive or rude, they know we stand up against injustice, protecting our environment and are willing to listen, far too often politicians talk to voters, rather than listening to them. 

6:  You are representing a minority party – what does a vote for you mean?

A vote for me represents the opportunity for real change, while the concerns about the environment are at the forefront voters see that a vote for me and the Green Party is a vote for action and not just words.

For too long voters have been taken for granted and with my record of public service, compassion and empathy they will get an MP who will fight to protect every single one of them.

I have been out in front of the sewage issue here in the Kennet and Lambourn chalk streams, I was the first to call for Thames Water to come to West Berkshire Council and explain to the scrutiny commission what they were doing about the lack of investment and environmental protections.

That battle continues with my call on WBC to issue abatement notices in the interest of public safety, how long do we wait before we act? Does someone have to die first?