Tory candidate in hot water

One of the Tory candidates has been getting into hot water with how he describes himself. Patrick Barr, standing for the Conservatives in Homefields ward, describes himself thus:

‘I am a Registered General Nurse and currently work as a nurse in West London. Previously I was a Charge Nurse in A&E and I still work in A&E as required to support the NHS. As your councillor for Chiswick Homefields, I will campaign for more GP surgeries locally for a growing and ageing population’.

He has come under fire from Labour candidate Nick Fitzpatrick for not declaring that he is also a disability assessor for the Department of Work and Pensions. ‘It’s fundamentally misleading’ says the Labour candidate competing for votes in the same ward.

Why does this matter? ‘DWP assessor’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as ‘A&E Charge Nurse.’ The DWP is currently coming under the same kind of scrutiny as the Home Office for setting arbitrary targets and stories of disabled people with severe physical problems being passed fit for work are legion.

A Freedom of Information request by The Independent last year found that staff were being told that they should turn down four out of five benefit appeals and that this was a ‘key performance indicator’. It’s also being reported that charities working with the DWP are having to sign gagging orders, promising not to undermine the reputation of the DWP by revealing what they know. The DWP is not popular with its clients, of whom there will be quite a few in Chiswick.

Both Patrick and Nick were both at our Meet the Candidates event on Sunday night, where civility reigned and candidates chatted amiably to each other in between answering voters’ questions. Nearly all the candidates of all parties standing in all four wards were there.

Described by one person as ‘Bit like a parents evening, you got to sit 5 minutes with each one and ask mean questions’, topics raised included the lack of provision for people with mental health problems, Heathrow, cuts to council budgets, CS9 and the danger that potholes pose to cyclists, amongst others.

Patrick confirmed that he was still a practising nurse but that his agency shifts as a nurse tend to be only about every six weeks.