Layla Moran, incumbent MP for the marginal seat of Oxford West and Abingdon, began her campaign this week with a pledge to double spending on youth services in Oxfordshire.
The Liberal Democrats announced they would increase spending to almost £8 million to help tackle levels of crime and anti-social behaviour among young people.
The measure is part of a £500 million fund allocated to Local Authorities across England for spending on youth services, thus steering young people away from crime.
A Liberal Democrat press release said: “council spending on youth services has been cut by £300 million – or 40 per cent – since 2015.
“Knife crime has risen by 80% over the same period, with a record high of 47,500 offences recorded in the year to June 2019.”
Committing to a public health approach to tackling youth violence, the Lib Dems aim to focus on identifying risk factors early on, with close cooperation between youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services.
Layla Moran said: “Across the country, there are thousands of youth centres offering invaluable services and support to young people in their localities.”
“Within my own constituency, Wolvercote Young People’s Club has been providing services for the com- munity in North Oxford for nearly 80 years.”
“Local Liberal Democrat councillors alongside myself have been working with youth centres across the local area, but due to Government and Oxfordshire County Council funding cuts and increases in rent, many youth centres’ trustees, volunteers, parents and communities are looking to fundraise tens of thousands of pounds to keep their services running.”
“Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for young people by doubling spending on youth services to £7,769,119 a year in Oxfordshire.
“With a Liberal Democrat government, young people will have the support and opportunities they deserve, our local communities will be stronger and people here will feel safer.”
Moran has also condemned the Tories for leaving UK-based EU citizens in limbo, after official figures revealed that thousands of EU citizens living in Oxfordshire have not been offered permanent residency.
The figures show that of the 24,930 EU nationals across Oxfordshire who have applied for permanent residency, fewer than half have been offered settled status.
Moran said: “EU nationals con- tribute hugely to the success of our community in Oxfordshire, and we should be celebrating that contribution.”
“Instead, the Conservative government are placing these citizens in legal limbo by not offering thousands of residents official residency in the UK.”
“If the Conservative government wanted to celebrate the fantastic contribution these EU nationals make to our county and our country,
they would stop the uncertainty of Brexit and grant them permanent residency. Instead the Conservative government are making them live under a cloud of uncertainty.
“The Liberal Democrats recognise the contribution EU citizens have made to this country, and will end the uncertainty by stopping Brexit, protecting the rights of EU citizens and building a brighter future for everyone in Britain.”
With a majority of 816 votes, Moran faces a tightly contested election, against both Labour and Conservatives.
Kate Robbinson, Chair of Oxfordshire Green Party, said: “We have an out of date and unfair voting system that favours the largest party, so even though over half a million people voted Green across the country in the 2017 General Election, we won just one seat.
“By cooperating with other parties in this way we are more likely to get more MPs that would reflect the support the party has.
“In Oxford West & Abingdon we helped a progressive Liberal Democrat candidate, Layla Moran, take the seat from the Conservatives in 2017. She has been supportive of the work Caroline Lucas does in Parliament and we would be happy to see her re-elected.”
The decision by the Green Party to stand aside for Ms Moran forms part of a broader push across the country for Remain supporting parties to support one another.
The Green Party’s decision to step aside for the Liberal Democrats last week and pledge their support for the party came as part of the Unite to Remain campaign.
Unite to Remain, a campaign involving three parties that support remaining in the European Union, aims to avoid the “spoiler effect” and maximise the elected number of Brexit-opposed MPs.
In an election which is centred on Brexit, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru have agreed that only one party will stand in 60 marginal constituencies in England and Wales.
Heidi Allen, founder of the Unite to Remain campaign, told The Guardian in October, “With a single remain candidate in 60 seats we will return a greater number of remain MPs to parliament. This is our opportunity to tip the balance of power away from the two largest parties and into a progressive remain alliance.”