ELECTION | OTS News interviews Damien Moore

2nd July 2024

For this week’s general election, OTS News invited all six Southport parliamentary candidates to interview. Patrick Hurley, Sean Halsall, and Edwin Black were interviewed in person. Damien Moore and Erin Harvey agreed to recorded interviews, but due to internal constraints, these were conducted in writing. Reform UK’s Andrew Lynn declined to participate.

OTS News: You’ve been MP for the town since 2017, and essentially everyone who takes an interest in local politics will know who you are, and what you stand for. But could you perhaps just give us an overview into who you are, your time as an MP, and what you still want to deliver for Southport?

I have had the honour of representing Southport since 2017 and campaigning here long before, since 2014.

I live in Southport and am deeply committed to our community. When I was first elected, many residents shared their concerns that our town was being overlooked.

I made it my mission to change that by securing significant investments that directly benefit Southport. One of my proudest achievements is securing the second-largest Town Deal in the country, bringing over £38.5 million to enhance the Theatre Convention Centre, Events Arcade, Market Hall, and Lord Street. These projects are set to significantly boost our local economy by attracting over 1 million additional visitors each year and supporting numerous local businesses and start-ups.

Throughout my tenure, I have championed local issues and remained accessible to my constituents. I have held weekly advice surgeries to hear directly from residents and address their concerns. My efforts have led to tangible improvements in our community, such as advocating for the reopening of the Children’s A&E and securing over £1.25 million for Southport Hospital to enhance healthcare services and championing the
restoration of the Burscough Curves. I believe the role of an MP is to be a visible and active representative for the people, and I have strived to embody that principle every day.

On a national level, my time as MP has been marked by significant challenges, including Brexit, Covid, and the cost-of-living crisis caused by the War in Ukraine and an ever more uncertain world.

Despite these hurdles, I have ensured that Southport’s voice is heard in Westminster. I have worked to secure the best outcomes for our town, advocating for policies that support our local economy and improve the quality of life for all residents. My commitment to Southport remains steadfast, and I look forward to hopefully continuing to work tirelessly on your behalf to deliver prosperity, security, and opportunities for our community.

OTS News: What distinguishes your vision for Southport from that of your main political rivals?

My vision for Southport is distinct because it is deeply rooted in a practical understanding of our town and its needs. I know the town, its businesses, and the community intimately, unlike the only other candidate within a chance of winning here.

Firstly, I believe in empowering local businesses rather than imposing top-down mandates. I advocate for free parking to encourage shoppers and visitors, which supports our local economy directly. Unlike the cycle lanes imposed by Labour-led Sefton Council that have been controversial and seen as disruptive for our businesses, I prioritise solutions that reflect what residents and businesses actually want.

A key part of my vision is giving businesses a greater say in the issues that affect them. I don’t believe in telling them what they should do but rather in listening to their needs and acting on them. This collaborative approach ensures that policies are beneficial and practical.

The Southport Town Deal is a prime example of my commitment and effectiveness. I was instrumental in securing £38.5 million for Southport through this deal, which is set to transform our town with projects like the Marine Lake Events Centre and further enhancements we have seen materialising over the last couple of years. This funding not only supports immediate improvements but also attracts further private investment, driving long-term growth and job creation.

In contrast, my opponents have not demonstrated the same level of effectiveness or commitment to listening and acting on local needs. Instead, choosing to repeat national-focused tag lines with no substance.

OTS News: Affordable housing is a concern in many areas. What is your stance on local housing development, and how do you plan to balance the need for new homes with preserving Southport’s character and green spaces?

ARordable housing remains a critical concern for me and my fellow constituents. Over the past five years, we have successfully fulfilled our 2019 manifesto commitment by building an additional 1.5 million homes across the UK.

As part of our 2024 manifesto, we are committed to further addressing the housing needs of our nation by pledging to construct an additional 1.6 million homes over the next Parliament. This ambitious goal will focus on the redevelopment of brownfield sites. We will achieve this by fast-tracking the planning process for new homes on previously developed land, extending full expensing to brownfield housing to incentivise developers, reducing the planning process for major infrastructure projects from four years to one, and providing land to smaller builders to stimulate further development.

Here in Southport, we are continuing our efforts to build homes on sites such as Blowick Moss, Pavilion Gardens, and Scholars Place, all of which include affordable housing elements to accommodate both new and existing residents.

We must remain mindful of Southport’s existing housing capacity and population. With a population around 100,000 people across Southport and the Northern Parishes, encircled by Grade 1 farmland and wetlands, and limited schooling and child service capacity due to Sefton Labour’s maintained ‘inadequate’ OFSTED rating, coupled with high council taxation, it is imperative that we continue to fight for improved infrastructure and services.

I believe we must ensure that new housing developments are appropriate for the available land and that local residents are properly consulted. As such, developments like Bankfield Lane should not go ahead.

OTS News: After the announcement of the election you said “With a fresh mandate from the residents of Southport I will ensure our Pier is re-opened after years of Labour neglect, and that we re-establish a Children’s A&E at Southport Hospital, which was closed under a Labour Government and Lib Dem MP”. What will you be able to achieve in these areas upon re-election that not, so far, been possible?

I’ve always been focused on ensuring that Southport Pier and the Children’s A&E at Southport Hospital get the attention and funding they deserve.

Southport Pier has had a troubled history; after the botched repair job in 2002 under a Labour government and a Lib Dem local MP, the issues persisted for many years, and I was not made aware of its deteriorating condition until Sefton suddenly closed the Pier in December 2022.

Despite this, we’ve made significant strides. Since its closure, I was in constant discussions with key government oRicials, including Lord Parkinson, to secure necessary funding, building on the previous £1.9 million secured through the Coastal Communities Fund in 2017. Unfortunately, due to constant delays by Labour-run Sefton Council in publishing key reports, it was not possible to secure funding before the election was called. If re-elected, the Conservatives and I are committed to the Seaside Heritage Fund, designed to support projects like Southport Pier, repairing the neglect and damage inflicted by a Labour-run council. I am committed to seeing this through and reopening our Pier.

For the Children’s A&E, we’ve already seen substantial progress in reversing Labour’s disastrous 2002 decision to remove our children’s A&E. In 2022, I helped to secure almost £5 million for Southport Hospital, demonstrating our commitment to enhancing local healthcare services. Upon re-election, I’ll continue building on this foundation to re-establish this critical service for our children.

OTS News: In January of 2023 you voted in favour of updated environmental targets that included a target of an 80% reduction in phosphates in rivers by 2038. One indirect consequence of this vote is that, unless amended, sewage disposal into waters will remain legal for a period of 15 years. Many political opponents of the Conservatives have used this to claim that the Conservatives, including yourself, voted to allow the dumping of raw sewage into our lakes and rivers. How would you react to this?

The assertion that either myself or fellow Conservatives have permitted the ‘dumping of raw sewage into our lakes and rivers’ is unequivocally false. Our track record demonstrates a strong commitment to environmental protection and improving water quality across the nation.

We are mandating that water companies invest £56 billion into environmental improvements as part of our comprehensive plan to stop discharges. Between 2020 and 2025, water companies will invest £7.1 billion specifically for environmental improvements in England, with an additional £56 billion committed through the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan over the next 25 years.

We have dramatically increased the monitoring of storm overflows in England from just 7% when Labour left office in 2010 to 100% today. This ensures that every storm overflow is now monitored, a measure unmatched by any other nation in the UK. We have enacted a crackdown on poor-performing water companies by quadrupling the number of inspections. By April 2025, inspections will rise to 4,000 annually, and by April 2026, this will increase to 10,000 unannounced inspections per year.

Through the Environment Act, we have empowered Ofwat to clamp down on excessive dividends and are consulting on banning bonuses for executives of water companies that commit serious criminal breaches. We have concluded over 59 prosecutions against water companies that pollute illegally, securing fines exceeding £150 million. Additionally, we have introduced unlimited penalties for environmental breaches and fast-tracked £180 million in 2024 to prevent more than 8,000 spills, demonstrating our proactive approach to protecting our waterways.

Our comprehensive measures highlight our unwavering commitment to safeguarding the environment and ensuring that our water companies adhere to the highest standards of accountability and performance – unlike Labour. Keir Starmer said that Wales would be the blueprint for running the country – a blueprint that continues to demonstrate sewage dumping and river pollution. They clearly have no plan to tackle pollution and climate change.

Senior Conservatives have started to warn against handing Labour a ‘super majority’. The front page of the Telegraph last week warned of a “Tory Wipeout”. You wrote in May “Don’t let opposition parties tell you this election is a foregone conclusion” and yet several weeks later that is arguably how it now seems. Is that a fair assessment? Do you believe the Conservative Party will have a majority on 5th

Since being elected in 2010, the Conservatives have achieved significant milestones that have improved the lives of millions across the UK.

Four million more people are employed since 2010, giving 32.8 million people in the UK job security. The biggest cut to National Insurance contributions in history, nearly doubling the personal allowance from £6,475 to £12,570, allows people to earn more tax-free. A two-pence cut to National Insurance saves the average worker £450 a year. We have ended low pay by increasing the National Living Wage (NLW) every year. In 2024, it will rise to £11.44 an hour, boosting pay by £1,800 a year for two million people. Our policies ensure that work pays more than benefits.

The implementation of the Triple Lock has lifted 250,000 pensioners out of poverty and boosted the State Pension by £800 a year, ensuring dignity in retirement. Our efforts to recruit over 20,000 extra police officers have more than halved crime since 2010, resulting in a 55% reduction in crime since Labour left office.

We’ve driven up education standards, with 88% of schools rated good or outstanding, up from 68% under Labour. England’s children are now the best readers in the western world. We support T-Levels, A-Levels, and apprenticeships to ensure future success. A record number of doctors and nurses have been recruited, with 39,200 more doctors and 55,000 more nurses since 2010. NHS funding is up 40% in real terms, supporting the largest ever cash injection for NHS scanners.

We’ve taken tough action on illegal immigration, reducing boat crossings by a third and speeding up asylum processing. Enforced returns are up 65% compared to 2022. We are increasing defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, maintaining a world-leading position in NATO. We lead in constructing advanced nuclear submarines and fighter jets. Britain has reduced emissions at the fastest rate across the G20 since 2010, with renewables now fuelling almost 40% of electricity generation. We lead the way in offshore wind farms.

These achievements reflect our dedication to financial security, defence, and public service improvement. My focus remains on securing accomplishments for Southport and the Northern Parishes, including investing Southport’s £38.5 million Town Deal, campaigning to reinstate Southport’s Children’s A&E, reconnecting the Burscough Curves, and building the Green Lane Link. These priorities are at risk under a Labour Government. I will continue to work tirelessly to win my seat, standing on a strong local record.

The polls can get it wrong, as they did in 2017 when I first stood for the seat. There is still plenty of time to stop Labour in Southport, especially considering the challenges posed by Labour-controlled Sefton Council. If the polls are correct, we need as many Conservative MPs as possible to put our people first. Your vote is crucial to ensuring that we continue to build on our achievements and secure a prosperous future for Southport.