The Lincolnite asked Karl a range of questions about the past two years since his re-election in December 2019 and also about his future priorities for Lincoln.
Below is a selection of his answers to the questions they asked.
How would you sum up your last two years in office? What have been some of the challenges you've faced as well as some of the big successes?
As the Member of Parliament for Lincoln the way I always look at matters, including any challenges and successes, is always through the lives and experiences of those I have the honour and privilege to represent.
Due to the pandemic, the past two years have been incredibly tough for everyone. From those who have lost loved ones, those who are isolated and the extra pressure on workers, businesses and those at school, college and university. My team and I see the effect of this on a daily basis through the mailbag, inbox and in meeting people and businesses. We have been doing all we can to provide practical help and comfort to my constituents and thousands of Lincoln residents who have written to me regarding a vast array of topics and issues that we have responded to with practical help, advice and assistance. As ever most of the useful work that a marginal seat Member of Parliament does, is through their casework.
There have been a number of successes, albeit they should be placed firmly in the context of the above. These range from the 120+ extra police officers we will soon have across the County, the extra A&E investment for Lincoln County Hospital and the Government funding we have had for our City Centre, heritage sector and arts community. To be fair, I have been banging on Ministerial doors a lot on behalf of the City and residents I represent, so it is working.
Personally, the biggest success has been the opening of the Eastern Bypass (aka “McCartney Way”) this time last year and the confirmation of Government funding for the Southern Bypass (North Hykeham Relief Road). When first elected in 2010, I made it my biggest commitment to the City and despite the doom-mongers telling me it was unachievable; by 2027 it should all be completed and in place, with work on this final section beginning in the next few years.
What are your plans for the next two years? Do you have any big announcements in the pipeline?
My major plans for the next two years are the same for all years – “Putting Lincoln First!”.
Firstly, I want to see things being delivered so the extra police officers and hospital investment we have received for example must produce real results such as cuts in crime and shorter post-pandemic waiting times.
Secondly, I really want our wonderful City to be recognised nationally and globally as the “Best Place in Britain to Live, Work, Study and Visit”. We have the perfect combination of a wonderful heritage, cutting edge businesses, brilliant shops, a vibrant arts community, great civic bodies and a fantastic college, medical school and two leading universities. We even have an RAF base that is very busy and at the forefront of defending our Country, and soon to be home to the Red Arrows.
I want to work with everyone to achieve this and it will be my focus for the next two years and the foreseeable future. The big announcement will be when others state that we have this recognition.
What, in your view, is the biggest issue facing Lincoln now, and how do you plan to fix it.?
The biggest issue facing those in Lincoln and the County right now is the “stop-start” draconian guidance being placed on the City and everyone in the Country with respect to the pandemic. It has to stop – we simply cannot go on like this. Let’s roll out the booster as fast as possible (and can every adult who qualifies to be vaccinated, and wishes to be, please do so), this will ensure we can move the economy forward and allow us all to go back to normal.
In terms of fixing it, I will be arguing for the Government to change its tack and on the other hand, I will also keep promoting Lincoln with all my might. We all have to be on the front foot in 2022 and in future years.
You recently voted against new regulations for mask-wearing and self-isolation, and have criticized other measures like the COVID app and vaccine passport. How would you manage the COVID recovery? What would you do differently?
My stance is that given we now have the vaccines and boosters, and many who have caught and had Covid-19 and/or its variants, alongside growing reports that the Omicron variant is “mild”, that we have to learn to live with Covid like we do flu. The disruption to everyone’s lives, livelihoods and liberty cannot continue.
Those making the decisions that affect our lives so drastically have large taxpayer-funded salaries, big pensions and 100% job security so they do not feel the pain in the way the vast majority of people in the Lincoln area and across the County and across the Country do.
You voted in favour of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - do you feel it is the correct precedent to set by putting a limit on people's right to protest in a democratic state?
Those opposing the Bill for these reasons are primarily the well-off far-left agitators who do not care about the impact their particular demonstrations have on the lives and livelihood of the general public. It is the fault of the out of touch Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain agitators that the Government has been left with no choice but to restore the balance between the right of protests (which I fully support) with the minimising of disruption to the lives of the public.
The vast majority of the public support what the Government is doing and I fully support it too.