Independent candidate Iain Scott-Burdon talks to The Linc about accessibility, community cohesion, and transport for students…

If you could have dinner with three celebrities, alive or dead, who and why? 

Sean Connery – another Scottish man involved in politics, like me, and he would be great company. A fantastic 007. Secondly, Jack Ashley who was the first deaf MP. As a kid I was in awe of him. Finally, Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress who’s always campaigning and broadening life for all.

One of Iain’s team jokes that Sean Connery will be seriously left out of this imaginary dinner party. Another team member – his interpreter – asks him where the interpreter fits into all this.

The interpreter is invisible! In this imaginary scenario we can all understand each other I would hope.

What are the biggest issues for Lincoln going into this election?

Accessibility. For business, for restaurants, for transport. Not just for people in wheelchairs, but for mums with plans or people who are deaf like me. For example, the castle here is accessible which is fantastic, but none of the films have subtitles. I couldn’t understand any of it. I did an interview with the BBC and I said my biggest priority was 100% accessibility. She said “don’t we already have that?” But as I said with the castle, it’s not always for all.

My second biggest priority is transport. It’s a huge problem, particularly for people in North Lincolnshire – an area which is poorer and the transport links just aren’t there for people who want to go out and socialise in the evening, but you can do it if you live in South Lincoln. They are worlds apart and I want to address this divide. Even things such as trains if students want to go home. I would like to see a direct train from Lincoln to London introduced, and the National Express bringing more services to Lincoln for students. It’s common sense, and transport companies should be more considerate to students.

“I feel independent – and I want to listen to everyone’s views and concerns.” Photo: Jamie Sleep.

How would you represent students in Lincoln? 

We need to look into fees – they’ve gone through the roof. Labour say they want to remove them, but they were the ones who put in fees to begin with. Why is this? We need to ask whether everyone can afford to study? Because it’s a huge amount to pay. Something I would consider is different bands of fees depending on course. Nurses for instance might need to pay more because of the resources they need. But photography may need to pay less. It’s about working out what’s fit for purpose. I’m proud of Lincoln and it’s grown with the university. My question to you is can you afford it?

Not really – it’s up to £50,000 debt for three years…

I fail to understand the government’s position on this. Everyone should have an equal right to education, and if it’s written off after a certain number of years, where is it coming from? Young people don’t want to start their life in debt.

To come back to representing students?

Yes. The next question is how will accommodation be accessible for students with disabilities, and how will accommodation affect others? While it’s great that Lincoln university is expanding, there’s always the possibility of noise complaints to consider.

Finally, there is a large number of foreign students at the university but you rarely see them in town. Why is that? Do they feel included? How can we help them feel integrated? We should try to widen our culture, with things like China Town that London has.

Do you think minorities are being represented in Parliament? How do you think we can help this representation?

There is definitely not enough representation, and I think it’s difficult because different parties have different policies. Some work, and some don’t. That’s why I decided to stand as an independent. I can listen to everyone, and I’ve been fighting against these disability cuts. They’re not working. I feel independent, and I want to listen to everyone’s views and concerns. Where the Conservatives focus on the wealthy, and Labour focus on the poor, I want to focus on somewhere in between.

Is there anything you’d like to say in regards to the Manchester attacks?

Everyone has clubbed together in the wake of this tragedy, but a disaster shouldn’t be what brings us together. While I think the response has been fantastic, this is what I believe our community should be like all the time.

What do you think we should do for community cohesion?

We’ve seen fantastic community cohesion in Lincoln FC. With them being promoted, we saw attendance go from 3,000 to 10,000. People from all different cultures and creeds came together and this really helps with integration. But this should be something that happens all the time. Years ago there was talk about a leisure centre but that didn’t happen. We want community centres to open for everyone, whether you’re a student or a businessman. Everyone should be networking in this great community we’re in. Like the 800 year anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln. It’s a shame that more local people haven’t gotten involved but it certainly helps with tourism.

How would you encourage tourism in the city?

I think there should be a special price for local people, because bringing friends to the castle or the cathedral, we’re having to pay the price two or three times a year.

What about a season pass like Waddesdon Manor run for residents of Waddesdon?

This is a great idea. Portsmouth do something similar with the Spinekar tower. Locals get in for free, and this would work with the castle and cathedral. They’ll make their money back with the people we bring to visit, and it gives locals an incentive to visit these fantastic monuments more often.