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VOTING MATTERS: MP candidates for Berkhamsted and Tring make their pitch

 Published on: 15th June 2024   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

With the surprise announcement that there will be a General Election on Thursday, July 4, all the candidates have now kicked their campaigns into full gear.

As of the next election, the towns of Berkhamsted and Tring will no longer be part of South West Hertfordshire, but will be included as part of the new Harpenden and Berkhamsted constituency.

Going head-to-head for the seat are Conservative Nigel Gardner, the Labour Party’s Zara Layne, Lib Dem Victoria Collins, Reform UK’s Saba Poursaeedi, Green Party member Paul De Hoest, and Workers Party of Britain candidate Sina Gharib.

This month, Berkhamsted News spoke to the candidates about their priorities for the local area should they win the upcoming election.

As part of the Conservative Party’s quest to claim the new seat, Nigel Gardner was joined by none other than the Prime Minister himself for a surprise visit in Berkhamsted on Monday, May 27.

Speaking to Berkhamsted News, Nigel said: “It was wonderful to have the PM take time out of his busy schedule for a surprise bank holiday Monday visit to Berkhamsted.

“We started with that most British of bank holiday traditions – a visit to Woods garden centre – before heading across the road to buy some delicious cakes at Daisy and Co.

“We then took a stroll along the High Street where we met with lots of local residents keen for a selfie with Rishi – most of whom promised to vote Conservative!”

Before starting his career in politics, Nigel previously worked as a journalist, public affairs agent, and spokesperson for the European Commission.The earliest announced candidate for the new seat was Liberal Democrat Victoria Collins, who is hoping to build on the party’s second-place finish in the South West Hertfordshire constituency in 2019.

Victoria is a local entrepreneur who is aiming to be the first Lib Dem MP of East and South East Asian origin.

She said: “People in Harpenden, Berkhamsted, Tring and the surrounding villages need a new MP who will fight to protect our waterways, save our health services and support local businesses.

“I am determined to give this constituency a strong voice in Westminster. The people in this new constituency have been taken for granted for too long by Conservative MPs.”

Elsewhere, the Labour Party has chosen Bedford borough councillor Zara Layne as their candidate. She has pledged to target issues such as GP appointment access, antisocial behaviour, and transport links.

Speaking to Berkhamsted News, she said: “I am honoured to have been selected to represent Labour in the constituency of Harpenden and Berkhamsted.

“I truly believe that with a Labour government, we have a chance to repair the damage to our public sector and other vital services.

“I promise the residents of Harpenden and Berkhamsted that I will fight for vital investment in the NHS, education, policing, transport and energy sector amongst others.”

Reform UK have put forward Saba Poursaeedi, who grew up in the local area. He also spoke to Berkhamsted News about what he would offer to residents if he is elected.

He said: “I think a lot of people take for granted that when you’re an MP, you are there to represent everyone. The other parties are not interested in listening.

“If you want someone to listen to you, regardless of your political persuasion, that’s me.

“I’ll be campaigning against Labour’s proposed VAT on private schools and putting pressure on local authorities to not put parking meters all over the place.”

The Green Party has selected councillor-turned-campaigner and local resident Paul De Hoest, who said he aims to promote environmentally friendly policies in Berkhamsted. He has been contacted for comment.

Finally, the candidate for the Workers Party of Britain, a socialist and socially conservative party formed four years ago, is Sina Gharib.

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