Neil Shailer for Romsey
County Candidate for Romsey
My name is Neil and I am standing for Romsey County Council division. I have lived in Romsey for 26 years and have been active in the Labour party here for the past 7. Born and raised in New Zealand, I have been a campaigner all my adult life, from the anti apartheid protests and action on native forests to awareness about global warming and sense about science. My life-long profession is research and lecturing in molecular biology, genetics and ancient DNA/forensics. I have also worked in climate science and the promotion of science.
I learnt the value of political engagement from an early campaign aimed at saving an ancient forested area. As a biologist I could wax on about the irreplaceable, priceless value of biodiversity but our protesting didn’t achieve much until we realised it really was about local jobs. We set about finding ways to employ more people and bring more wealth to the region with extant forest than with destroyed forest. Soon the trees were protected and now the region is a UNESCO world heritage site.
I believe in democracy and strength in numbers. We live in troubling times and I cannot stand on the side-lines. I enjoy great support from within the Romsey Labour team. I like people and tend to be a facilitator. The community building we have seen in Cambridge, for instance during the government’s disastrous handling of the pandemic and in Romsey during the Mill Road Summer activities, gives me hope that we can continue to involve people in the decisions that will change their lives.
I believe in equality not only because it is morally right but it is also the way to success. This is not a zero sum game. The more who can contribute and be fully part of our society the more we all benefit. I am active in Cambridge Black Lives Matter, Stand Up to Racism and the Labour Ethnic Minority Forum, attending our last BAME conference. Other community groups I am involved with include local churches, Mosques and temples, and I am also a member of Migrants4Labour, The Cambridge Doughnut, Mill Road summer, Mill Road Winter Fair and various residents groups.
I am especially interested in allowing our voters to have a say about the county run transport infrastructure within the city and while canvassing we are asking for feedback on the emergency measures the county put in place on Mill Road.
We will build a vision for the future of Romsey. So far, the feedback is for a much more intelligent and nuanced approach than the blunt instrument now in place. On the doorstep we have found a real revival of interest in local shopping, exercise and leisure facilities. We need to recognise that those who use public transport are not the only beneficiaries. The city can be more bio-diverse and a healthier place to live. We want to promote a real living community, not the gradual slide into some kind of open-air investment park. If only the county was doing as well as the city in providing new homes.
While our communities have risen heroically to the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have been seriously let down by Boris Johnson’s Tory government. Reckless decision-making from Government – with little basis in evidence – has left us with 100,000 needless deaths and a legacy of financial and educational ruin that may never be repaired – especially when we add Johnson’s other disaster, Brexit.
Growing up on a farm taught me about rural politics. Few people vote in the wider county, we need to get out there and help. At stake are our public services. 10 years of Tory/LibDem austerity have stripped services to the bone. During the last year while the government wasted billions on cronies, public services came to the rescue, especially our stretched, underfunded and abused NHS. The vaccine rollout success is – once again – all down to our NHS.
If I’m elected to the county council, I hope to bring my logical, practical and creative skills to bear. We will need to present third alternatives, find win-win solutions and generate ideas and visions that step around the pre-made, Conservative battlegrounds.