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

Here, Animal Welfare Party candidate for Congleton Jane Smith explains why she should win your vote.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Obviously the odds are stacked against us in this unfair electoral system.

I have been campaigning for a long time for proportional representation and I am very disappointed to see it is not addressed in Labour’s manifesto – we will be stuck with first past the post.

But I feel that unless I stand, nobody is sticking up for people, animals and environment. Our philosophy is that people, animals and environment form an indivisible natural constituency.

The best decisions we can make as humans, whether that is as at parish council level or in Government, are the decisions that take into account the needs of all three – people, animals and environment.

It’s a win-win-win situation when you do that. Decisions that are good for the environment are good for human health. Better agricultural practices are better for human health and for animals.

What sets your party apart from the Green Party?

While I think the Green Party is fantastic, and it is very much looking after the needs of the environment, for me it is missing decisions for animals. We can do better than that.

If we are serious about climate breakdown we have to have a supported transition to plant-based agriculture.

You have a lot of experience as a campaigner, and more recently as a councillor…

Being a town councillor in Alsager for five years, I feel it has been an important way to find out how we can change the culture and narrative.

I’m not a political enthusiast – I’m really here out of necessity. If I don’t speak up for people, animals and environment, no one else will. I would love it if the Green Party represented all my views, but it only does to a certain extent.

Where did your passion for animal rights come from?

I think the first thing that happened when I was a young teenager in Newcastle-under-Lyme – there used to be a cattle market and I happened to pass it with my parents.

I just remember thinking ‘who is making sure those animals are really looked after?’ There was something about that market that really shocked me. I became vegetarian as a child, I became involved with Animal Aid at 14 and I have been campaigning ever since.

We are in a situation where animals are seen as commodities – that animals are here for us. I think climate breakdown is helping people realise that needs to change – but we should have realised that a long time ago.

Transport infrastructure is a key issue in this constituency, what do you think should be done about it over the next few years?

We would like to see a moratorium on road building. I would like councils to start encouraging other forms of transport over cars.

We’ve had bus services cut, we need to be reopening branch rail lines and to have a proper infrastructure like we used to have. Public transport is fantastic for bringing communities together.

I’m completely opposed to HS2. I agree with Chris Packham, who said it is an ‘act of ecological vandalism’. HS2 is an absolute disaster. It does not make sense at any level whatsoever. It is not there to help people that live and work along the route, it is there to grease the pockets of business people and for political egos.We need more bus routes. If you are in Alsager it is very difficult to get to Leighton Hospital by bus. A lot of those people are older people who need to get to appointments or might be seeing relatives in hospital.

I think that new developments have been built up with car users in mind, and that is just wrong. We should look at town planning in future, and not be so focused on cars.

What else could be done to support the environment?

I think the first thing we need to do is halt the felling of trees – that’s going on left, right and centre. We need to recover that carbon capture, it is irreplaceable. And we need to plant as many trees as possible.

What would be the best way of improving our health service?

The most important one for us is that we would like the Government to encourage the switch to a plant based lifestyle – encourage people to eat less meat – as that makes sense for the animals.

A lot of antibiotics are used in intensive farming animals. People are eating meat and dairy every day that contain those antibiotics, and it is an accident waiting to happen.

I think there’s a very strong case to be looking at some of the progressive thinking around the value of being surrounded by nature.

I think people are suffering from a disconnect between humans and nature.

If you start to put that right I think we would see the health benefits. People have forgotten that they are part of the world around them. It’s not their fault, it is the way we have been brought up.

Anti-social behaviour has been a key concern this year, particularly in Middlewich. What should be done to tackle it?

I think that reconnecting with nature would definitely help. I think some of it might also be down to diet.

I think we have a problem with 24-7 technology. That is not going to be helped by 5G, which I think is a disaster, there are huge question marks over the health impact of that.

But I would hate to be a teenager now because it is so different for them. It is the culture that is wrong.

We need more spaces for young people to hang out and do their own thing.

Here in Alsager we have a fantastic park where teenagers hang out. I like it when people are outside meeting up with each other, but we are constantly facing calls for the park to be lit up.

We need to let young people be young. They are not out causing trouble all the time, they are just growing up.

Schools in Cheshire are among the worst funded in the country – do they only need more cash, or are there more things that should be considered?

I think they need something wider. Schools definitely need more funding – and the schools we have here are absolutely brilliant, the teachers do excellent jobs.

But I think education outside of the classroom is important. We need more opportunities for young people outside.

Obviously the Animal Welfare Party acts in the interests of animals. Do you have any in your family? 

We have two rescue dogs – I prefer to call them companion animals. For me, while there are rescue animals I am happy to have them and they are members of the family.

But our fundamental concern is that we don’t believe animals should be used for human food, clothing, sport or entertainment.

We believe animals have intrinsic value and they should be allowed to live in peace without being used in something that humans can profit from.

It is complicated with dogs, because they have become companion animals, there are synergies there from history and you can see how it works between humans and dogs. But in an ideal world it would not be that way.

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

I love the Peak District. I am a long distance walker, and I would have the dogs with me.

For me it keeps me sane and it keeps me connected to the world that I am trying to defend.