TRANSFORMATIVE:  Rachel Maughan feels strongly about public transport, parking and protecting town centres							             TM pic
TRANSFORMATIVE: Rachel Maughan feels strongly about public transport, parking and protecting town centres TM pic

The Transform Party was only established in November last year and Bishop Auckland is one of the few constituencies it will be contesting. Reporter Martin Paul spoke to the candidate

A WIDOWED single mum of two boys has thrown her hat in the ring to become Bishop Auckland’s next MP.

Rachel Maughan will be standing for the Transform Party, a left-wing group that was launched late last year.

Having lived in West Auckland until age 10, and since then has lived in Bishop Auckland, she feels she is aware of many of the issues local people face, and is keen to hear more about the unique problems people in the more rural areas have.

She said: “The reason I am here is because I am tired of what I see as career politicians coming in and just using our constituency as a way of getting a nice salary and having a nice life. Our constituency is huge, we have some very densely populated urban areas, and some very remote rural areas and they have completely different issues. The only way to know those issues is by actually talking to people.”

Some of the issues she feels strongly about are public transport, parking and protecting town centres.

She said: “When I look at Bishop Auckland town centre, everyone sees it as completely dead now. We used to have a really exuberant nightlife, you would start at the top of the town and work your way down to the market place. It doesn’t happen anymore. There are no taxis in the taxi rank, there isn’t any people milling around in the market place like there used to be. Everything is closed and if the business isn’t there, they aren’t going to put the buses on.”

Of people’s complaints about parking she added: “You would think the local authority would do something to bring people in for the businesses, rather than put people off from coming in. If people haven’t been coming in then you notice the shops closing one by one, and then there is less for people to come in for too.”

The film and media graduate from Sunderland University who works as funeral home manager, also feels that local authorities are not listening to the people they serve

She said: “I don’t think they care about what they are really supposed to be doing. They are supposed to be looking after things for the people.

“People should have a real say and if people object to things they should be listened to. If people offer up different suggestions, they should be listened to because they are the people who live here and they know.”

Ms Maughan was a life-long Labour Party supporter and a former member handing out leaflets in the 2019 election.

She said: “I did feel strongly, especially in 2019, that we needed to support Jeremy Corbin’s Labour. He really is my inspiration.

“When Bishop Auckland went blue in 2019 I honestly think it was like a bereavement, and I felt disenchanted with politics. I felt like I didn’t have anywhere to go. Pretty soon after Keir Starmer became leader I ended my membership. He has purged most of the socialists. The reason I am doing this is because I don’t trust them anymore.”

She added that there is a currently a “cigarette paper” between Labour and the Tories.

The aspiring MP said Transform has a collective leadership where every member has an input into what the party’s policies look like.

She said: “I think the important thing is that it is driven by the people, what people want, rather than some kind of panel at the top of the party saying these are our policies. People have a real input – if Brexit is about taking back control, this is really taking back control from Westminster – having local people having forums in their local area so everybody can get involved.”

While Transform has only two candidates standing across the country, the party is part of a “Left List” of about 30 candidates who will be endorsing each other.

Ms Maughan said: “Jeremy Corbin is one of them. Andrew Feinstein is another and he is standing against Keir Starmer.”

As for her chances in the election, the candidate concluded: “I am under no illusions that I will become the MP for Bishop Auckland. There are a couple of reasons why I am still standing. Number one is to get the word out to people that there is another option and it is a success to me if we get more members. The second reason is I have never done anything like this before – I am learning a lot very quickly and all of that learning is going to help when we come back in five years’ time because we will have more experience of how all this works.”