The Liberal Democrats have selected their candidate for the next general election.
Berkhamsted will no longer fall under the South West Hertfordshire constituency following changes by the Boundary Commission for England, and will instead join Harpenden and Tring in a new constituency from the next general election.
Victoria Collins, who could become the MP for the new Harpenden and Berkhamsted constituency, has spoken of her dynamic career, from working for the European Policy Centre in Brussels to founding an urban gardening business which saw her chosen as a finalist for a prestigious award.
Victoria told BERKHAMSTEDnews that she moved to Berkhamsted a few years ago, having previously lived in Brussels, Paris and London, and completely fell in love with the town.
The Lib Dem candidate has exclusively shared her three main priorities for the town: supporting local shops, improving transport, and protecting the area’s waterways.
Victoria says she “grew up on the shop floor” of her mother’s gift shop in Northumberland, so she has first-hand experience of the challenges of running a local business.
She explained: “Local shops are an important part of the community and something to celebrate. I’m passionate about protecting Berkhamsted’s High Street.”
Victoria is also conscious of issues surrounding public transport in the area, and believes train fares should be frozen.
She said: “A return fare to London from Berkhamsted is now £27. Per mile, per minute, that is absolutely extortionate. Meanwhile, 56 per cent of bus miles have gone down – a bus from the centre of Berkhamsted to Harpenden now takes two hours.”
Victoria has also shared her concerns about sewage pollution in the canal and the town’s chalk stream river.
She said: “It is not acceptable for this to be happening. In Paris, the canals can be swum in during the summer. Something needs to be done.”
More widely, Victoria is looking to focus on the NHS, ameliorating the cost-of-living crisis, and helping the environment.
Victoria grew up in Gateshead and, after graduating from Durham University, moved to Brussels to work in economic and financial regulation for the European Parliament.
After stepping back from politics, Victoria worked in consulting for several years before setting up two businesses. The first, LingUpp, a language networking business, was followed by Growing Urban, a business designed to “bring urban gardening to the masses”. For this, Victoria was selected as a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2021.
It was in fact Brexit which inspired Victoria to join the Liberal Democrats and it was their pro-business values which resonated with her. Victoria believes there has been a swell of support for the Lib Dems and is optimistic about their chances in the area.
She said: “Of the three former constituencies of which this new constituency has been formed – South West Herts, Hemel Hempstead, and Harpenden & Hitchin – none of the Conservative MPs are standing again. This is not a safe seat for the Tories.”