AS Middlewich prepares to head to the polls on December 12, the Guardian has interviewed all candidates in mid Cheshire.

Here, Labour Party candidate for Congleton Jo Dale explains why she believes she should get your vote.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m a mum of three, I live in Alsager. I did work for years as a physiotherapist in the NHS, so I understand the problems in the NHS at the moment.

I have been a campaigner since I was 14, an environmental campaigner, social justice, animal welfare, and that led me to here unexpectedly.

I run farmers’ markets – supporting local shopping on the high street, independent traders. I run a stall myself, and if I haven’t made it myself on the stall it is Fairtrade. I make my own handmade soap and shampoo bars.

You obviously have an interest in retail – what do you think needs to be done to revive our high streets?

A massive one is business rates. I have looked at high street premises that I have worked at, and business rates are an absolute killer for small businesses, so there needs to be a lot more support for that.

Support for start-up businesses, advertising, and just general campaigns to get people on the high street – free parking, card schemes and transport into the high street.

Residents in this constituency have been hit by bus cuts in recent years – would you like to see those reversed?

I led the campaign for our CLP and for Alsager on the buses. We worked really hard, and it was not as bad as it was at first, we managed to claw back a bit.

But I have spoken to residents who used to get out every day into the centre of town – maybe once a week now by taxi, because the bus doesn’t go on their route anymore.

It is causing real social isolation for people and they are really expensive – people getting to work, it is a really huge cost and it is a vicious cycle where you have less people using the buses and the cost goes up and up.

Middlewich residents are also without a railway service, but work has been taking place to get it back up and running. Is that a campaign you would support?

Absolutely. For a town’s connectivity, but also for the environment.

The campaign for the rail service has been going on for a long time and it’s probably a while away before we get a station in Middlewich with the rail being privatised, it would need to be considered cost effective.

So getting bus services back around Middlewich would be key – there are elderly people and young people isolated in the town. We need transport links to other places with more facilities.

You worked in the NHS – what do you think needs to be done to support it?

I think a study came out last week where NHS staff are working one million unpaid hours a week – the NHS is being held together by the good of its staff at the moment.

And people are on their knees. A lot of my family and friends work in the NHS, I have seen the pressure that they are under and it cannot carry on like this.

We’ve got 40,000 nurse vacancies, 10,000 doctor vacancies, so we need the bursaries brought back – nurse training has dropped 30 per cent since the bursary went, and they don’t get that well paid, so to pay so much to train is ludicrous.

We’ve got a massive GP shortage as well, meaning waiting lists are longer, so training is key as well as investment into buildings, facilities and in people. It has all gone west over the last nine years.

It’s OK the Tories promising so many new doctors, but to achieve that there has to be the people available to do it – where are the doctors going to come from?

The patient lists are sky high because infrastructure has not grown with housing, but the practices can’t close off their lists, they have to keep taking more people on.

In Alsager people are waiting up to four weeks to see a GP. That’s not acceptable, and it puts pressure on A&E because if you need to see someone, you need to see someone.

So they go to A&E which maybe isn’t the most appropriate place.

Residents are also concerned about Congleton War Memorial Hospital, where nurses are often sent to cover at Macclesfield A&E and the hospital can be closed at short notice…

I’m really worried about the war memorial hospital. The maintenance has not been done there because they have not got the money to keep on top of it.

I worry they are winding it down because they don’t have the funding to keep it, and it is a much-loved facility in Congleton used by a lot of elderly residents. We do need to keep it – we can’t all travel to bigger places.

A&E performance hit a record low recently – how should that be reversed?

It’s stopping the problems earlier, I think. If someone gets run over, yes they need to go to A&E, but if someone has a medical problem that could have been seen by a GP or a practice nurse – but they can’t get that appointment for three weeks, they will go to A&E.

That is going to create a bottleneck, with more pressure – and this is why you see patients on trollies all over the place. It is both.

Another thing that was a massive part of my training was prophylactic medicine [preventative treatment] and that has pretty much gone now. Putting tools to stop people get ill in the first place benefits us all.

So we need to look at the whole system, not just plug the gaps in A&E, and we need to look at social care – we are in a massive social care crisis, people can’t get out of hospital because there is nowhere for them to go.

When my mum was ill with terminal cancer and needed hospice care, there was nowhere for her to go, it is horrendous out there. Millions of people are waiting for that social care, and they are going to end up in A&E because families can’t cope.

In Cheshire East two respite care centres have been closed. Where are these people going to go? They are sent to private care places that cost a fortune – it is a vicious cycle.

What about mental health services?

One of our members had to save up and pay privately to get a diagnosis for ADHD for her child. The waiting list is nearly four years to see one doctor that covers all of Cheshire.

It’s a child, this is holding back their education, and four years in the life of a child is a long time. To have just one doctor licensed for that is ludicrous.

And if you can deal with mental health problems at an earlier stage, it is easier to spot major problems than if you find them at a later stage.

Then with Universal Credit, people have to go through the absolutely atrocious assessments – it is more about physical ability than mental health. And those assessors are not medically trained a lot of the time.

I’ve seen people who their GPs have said they are absolutely not fit for work, but they have been classified as fit for work by the Department for Work and Pensions.

It’s absolutely horrendous, and it is making people’s mental health a lot worse. You hear the horror stories about mental health for people who were found fit to work and they don’t know where their money is coming from.

And then there is the knock-on effect on rising homelessness – people are just not coping.

Environmental concerns are at the forefront of people’s minds in this election – what can be done to help tackle climate change locally?

There are two things – the obvious one is public transport, making it more accessible, more affordable and more regular so more people can get it.

Also for air quality, it is looking at tree planting, greening up areas, trying to soak up some of the pollution.

I think we are over tipping point. We’ve got 10 years of clawback left, and we never should have got to this point in the first place.

I was campaigning on this 20 years ago when people didn’t really believe it. Now Mainstream politics has caught up, and I am really pleased about that.

I love the way Labour is looking at it alongside the economy. It is about creating green jobs, bringing green industry – 320,000 apprenticeships, one million green jobs.

And we were doing quite well 10 years ago on subsidies for insulating your home and solar. That has all been axed.

We should be world leaders in green technology, it’s a great growth aspect for us. We have lost 21 per cent of our manufacturing jobs in the north west in the past 10 years.

I think with the huge investment in technology, hopefully it will bring prices down by manufacturing it here. We desperately have to invest in this.

And habitat – we need to be planting trees. Trees soak up carbon, and that’s a massive thing.

You mentioned your background as an animal rights campaigner – what are your thoughts on the badger cull?

What I don’t get and can’t get my head around with the badger cull, is that the cull areas are test areas to see if culling works.

Why did they go straight in for culling? Why didn’t they try vaccinating the badgers? Vaccinating the cattle? That’s a question in itself.

It costs £850 to shoot a badger, it costs £80 to vaccinate a badger, so that doesn’t add up either.

Labour will ban the cull on day one. We need to look at biosecurity – there have been cases of cows going to cattle market that have got TB, and that is not going to solve it.

So we need to look at biosecurity and vaccination. The badger cull is completely unnecessary, and in areas where they are suggesting it is working, there is vaccination going on in those areas as well. It pains me they went to shoot them first.

Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner has called for the Hunting Act to be tightened following recent high profile incidents in Cheshire – where do you stand on it?

The first Labour conference I went to in Bournemouth, I was campaigning for the hunting ban. It’s something I have campaigned on for a long time – it’s barbaric and cruel.

They have found ways to get around the law, it needs tightening – things like the role of terriermen. Why are they out there with spades if they are just having a nice ride in the countryside?

I think hunts need to provide an assessment – if they are following a trail, where is that trail being laid? If they don’t follow it, they could be prosecuted. For hares and stags as well – the Hunting Act needs tightening up.

Also we need more wildlife officers. There have been cuts to the police, and our officers are really busy, so we need more staff to be able to deal with this – and they need to be trained for what they are looking for.

Labour wants to put Brexit to a second referendum – would that not cause more division?

The Tory position of hard Brexit is ridiculous, the Lib Dem position of no Brexit is ridiculous.

Leave won. But did they want a cliff-edge Brexit? We need a deal that people can look at, see if they agree with it, plus remain on the table.

Now we have all thought about we need to do it again. It is the only way we can get some healing and move forwards quickly.

Finally, you have a day off – no work or campaigning to do. How would you spend your ideal day in Cheshire?

I would go to my favourite place to walk my dog, down the salt line in Alsager, before going out to a gig.

I love indie pop – small bands, DIY, in local pubs. I don’t go to big stuff, I just like seeing what the local talent is.