The newly announced Labour candidate for South West Wiltshire has said that she would tackle the county lines which are paying vulnerable local children to “take drugs across the country".

Evelyn Akoto has spent her life in London, dedicating herself to Southwark Council for ten years through a “desire to see positive change” in her community.

She said she knows South West Wiltshire well through nearby family connections and felt “confident” she could help the people of the area.

Having spoken to residents on their doorsteps, she noted that their concerns included a lack of town centre regeneration and feasible transport options.

She said: “If we are going to get the environmental benefits in beautiful places like Wiltshire, we need to ensure that public transport is fit for purpose so that people don’t have to use their cars.”

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Wiltshire Times: Ms Akoto is currently Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Southwark Council.

Ms Akoto listed her top priority as working to resolve the cost of living crisis and a healthcare system that wasn’t “good enough” for the people of Wiltshire, after being “decimated” by a Tory government.

She said: “If we don’t get social care right, we will never get the NHS right, we will never get to a point whereby it can service the amount of people coming through its doors.”

She also plans to focus on crime and anti-social behaviour in places like Trowbridge, where young people are being “recruited” into the drug trade.

Ms Akoto added that more investment in town centres would make them places that can “really generate income for the locality".

The candidate promised to be a visible MP and hold regular surgeries to hear directly from constituents on other issues, such as the waste incinerator in Westbury.

She said: “Coming from a military family, I understand the importance of security and the sacrifices made by those who serve our country.

“As your representative, I'll be a strong voice for our community's military personnel, advocating for the support and resources they deserve.”

Delivering homes was also among her priorities and she believes that “we can’t allow our rent to keep spiralling year after year.”

Regarding South West Wiltshire's current MP, Andrew Murrison, who has represented the area since 2001, she said: “South West Wiltshire needs a fresh approach, it needs someone who can come in and hit the ground running, it needs someone that understands the concerns on the doorsteps.”

Ms Akoto concluded: “For the past 14 years, we’ve had stagnant wages dropping people’s living standard, rising inequalities, high levels of poverty, our life expectancy has gone down the hill.

“It’s time we improve it, and Labour has the plans to improve it.”