Speaker’s Corner: Together let’s put the heart back into Hemel

Prospective Labour candidate for Hemel Hempstead in the 2015 general election, Tony Breslin
Prospective Labour candidate for Hemel Hempstead in the 2015 general election, Tony Breslin

Too many people are either fed up with – or have no time for – politics, and politicians.

The ‘Westminster Village’ and the back of the ministerial car seem far removed from and the everyday pressures of modern life.

But politics really does matter and does influence our daily lives. If you don’t vote politics becomes something that simply happens to you rather than a means to improve or change your life.

Perhaps that’s why, while we wonder whether we should bother to vote, people across the world continue to fight for the vote and queue to exercise that right when they win it.

It is against this background that I will be standing for election as Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate on May 7 next year. More than anything, I want to encourage Hemel to use its vote, not waste it.

The Scottish referendum drew a turnout of 85% and a surge in voter registration. In Hemel, and across England and Wales, we should be satisfied with no less.

So, what change can we bring about next May? Conservative politicians, at Westminster and the county and borough councils have been in charge for almost a generation. They’ve meant well but their record has been pretty patchy:

– no replacement for the Pavilion, which took a little bit of the heart out of Hemel

– 10 years of failure for the town centre regeneration despite spite of many expensive schemes and consultations

– an industrial plan for the area that can’t stop companies like Dixons Carphone Warehouse from leaving

– declining health and social care provision for our pensioners which is putting a strain on families as we all get older

– a failed school amalgamation programme which left many families not getting their first choice while some schools have empty desks

– cuts in bus services at weekends and evenings meaning people can’t get to and from work

– ever increasing rail fares stretching the family budget for those of us who commute

– no sign the A&E unit at Hemel Hospital promised in 2005 and again in 2010.

The Conservative leadership seem to stumble from one avoidable mishap to another.

It doesn’t have to be this way. One of the promises I will make at election time will be to work night and day with everybody in our community, with voluntary and faith groups, with local businesses and with the providers of our public services to put the heart back into Hemel, to realise the dream of those Hemel pioneers who came here in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

We owe it to the people who built this town to make it not just a great place to live, which it is, but to make it the best it can be. I will be holding regular surgeries and drop-in sessions, before during and after election time, to make sure we represent everyone, not just those that vote for us.

My intention is to make sure that Hemel has the kind of high quality, high visibility political representation that a healthy democracy must offer.

In short, you will know not just who we are – that’s the easy bit – but where and how to find us. Whether the issue is child benefit, rail fares, immigration, health or education - you can rest assured that I will be doing my best for the people of Hemel. Together, we can put the heart back into Hemel, and together we will.