As part of our final series of interviews for the upcoming local elections for Maidstone Borough Council, here it’s the turn of Dan Wilkinson, long-time activist, Labour member, candidate for the 2019 GE, and our candidate for Park Wood, to answer some questions and give you the lowdown on why he is worthy of your vote.
Hi Dan, thanks for speaking with us today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi, yeah, so I’m Dan, and I’ve lived in the Maidstone area all my life. I work as a machinist and trade union rep in the cash-processing industry, so I’ve been working as what’s considered a key-worker throughout the pandemic. I have also worked for Royal Mail in the past, and still have family members there. I think my background has given me a deep understanding of what it means to be a worker not being treated as well as they should in a low-paid job.
How did you get involved in politics?
I first became involved in local politics in 2015 during a campaign to prevent the closure of a number of dementia care centres across Kent, something that I saw as a real travesty. After that, I worked extensively on campaigns to combat street homelessness. There’s so many terrible, but preventable things, that happen to make someone homeless, such as financial pressures or trouble with mental illness, and these are things we could offer support to overcome (though ultimately I want us as a society to eliminate homelessness altogether, something that’s perfectly feasible in a fairly affluent country). So, I felt that I had to do my bit to try to make a difference. From that, I got involved with Labour, and ran as the party’s candidate for Maidstone and the Weald in the 2019 General Election.
Can you give us any specifics of what you will do, if elected as representative of Park Wood?
I believe that as an additional Labour voice on the council we can start to make a real difference to Park Wood, and Maidstone as a whole. It is my determination that if elected to represent the people of Park Wood on MBC, I will do all I can to tackle all the issues that are affecting our lives. I will get a better understanding of these issues by holding regular surgeries so I can discuss and help resolve any issues they are having. Immediately, I will partner with local police and community groups to tackle low-level crime and nuisance behaviour. I will look to be tough on anti-social behaviour and on the causes of it – there’s far more we can do for people to combat this. I believe part of this, as well as making Park Wood a nicer place to live overall, will be protecting and improving high-standard community services and youth facilities, such as ensuring the Heather House site remains a community asset. Alongside this, prioritising safety and cleanliness at street level, and arguing for the scrapping of bulky waste charges will allow us to create a cleaner, greener place to live. I will also ensure I stand up for our key workers who’ve been let down by the pandemic and using my experience to advise residents on universal credit.
Ok, so give us your pitch – why should Park Wood residents vote for you?
I have lived and worked in Maidstone all my life – I know the area, know the people, know the pros and con’s. I will be doing everything in my power to fight for the residents of Park Wood and Maidstone, to look after their interests, and improve the area. Another Labour voice on the council will give more balance to its direction and ensure voices for the interests of residents are not drowned out.