General Election 2017: Tim Farron sweeps into St Albans

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron visits St Albans to show his support for local candidate Daisy Co

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron visits St Albans to show his support for local candidate Daisy Cooper. - Credit: Archant

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has condemned Anne Main’s Brexit stance as “reprehensible”, and promised an extra £4 billion to safeguard local hospitals.

The Herts Advertiser spoke to Mr Farron when he visited St Albans this morning to support local candidate Daisy Cooper.

Asked about Ms Cooper’s chances, he said: “There is great support for us here.

“I think the referendum has made a difference to the way people look at things. I think the decisions Anne Main has made, while she is entitled to them, are pretty reprehensible.”

Turning to Ms Cooper, he said; “What you have in Daisy Cooper is someone who lives here, who understands the majority of the sentiments of people who live here, including those who voted leave, but who I am sure do not want this wonderful city to be damaged by taking us out of the single market, including all of the harm this will do to our local businesses.”

He also criticised the government’s Brexit strategy, saying the government was, at best, “interpreting” the will of the British people.

The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for the British people to be offered a second referendum on the final Brexit deal.

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Mr Farron said: “We believe the British people should have the final decision.

“The deal that is to be drawn up is something neither us, nor Theresa May, know anything about.

“It will, in the end, be imposed on the British people. That’s why we want them to have the final decision.

“If we like the deal, out we go, but if they don’t, we’ll remain.”

Mr Farron has previously spoken to the Herts Advertiser about the impact the business rate reevaluation will have on small businesses.

The issue has been vigorously opposed by the Save St Albans Pubs group, organised by local publicans.

On what he thought about the government reevaluation, Mr Farron said: “I think it is incredibly unfair, especially to small businesses.

“I think business rates are an incredibly unfair way of taxing businesses large and small, and we will reform rates to bring in a fairer system.

“You need business rate relief in the short term, but it’s also about moving to land value-based solution, which take into account people’s profits, as well as the almost arbitrary valuation of the patch they happen to be on. That puts so many small businesses up against it in a place where they just cannot afford to continue, and puts people off being start-ups in the first place.

“Every big business started off as a small one.”

Another prominent local issue in the closure of the Sopwell and Langton wards in St Albans city hospital.

Asked about what his party would do to stop essential services leaving areas such as St Albans, Mr Farron said: “We are here today at the Pharmaceutical Association, which gives you one angle about how you can relieve pressure on the NHS by backing local pharmacists and they take some of the pressure of GPs and A&E departments.

“But fundamentally, let’s not pretend we can solve the NHS and social care crisis without a vast injection of money.

“Frankly, you can’t do that very easily if you take Britain out of the Single Market.

“There is no money available for us to invest more in the NHS and social care if you have a hard Brexit.

“We think an additional minimum of £4 billion pounds needs to go into the health service.

“That would protect local hospitals like here. And it would also mean the thousands of people locally who depend upon social care would also have adequate care, rather than, at the moment, having to make do with inadequate support.”