I will be standing as the Lib Dem candidate for Hitchin Bearton ward in the elections to North Herts District Council on May the 6th. I have called the ward home for more than ten years, and I have very much enjoyed meeting many Bearton residents during recent campaigns. If those same residents elect me in May, my pledge is to listen carefully, work hard, and be a constructive, collaborative and pragmatic councillor. As a university lecturer and research scientist, my aim is always to fully consider the evidence and continue to learn—and I will bring the same approach to council work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, but I am very conscious that its impact has not been felt evenly, with individual difficulties ranging from loneliness to furlough and job loss to the challenges of balancing home-working with home-schooling. At the same time, in some ways it has brought out the best in our communities, through volunteering, support groups and some great new ideas from local businesses. The district council—which is under Lib Dem and Labour joint administration—has played a major role too, awarding millions of pounds in grants to support businesses impacted by the pandemic.

I’m deeply invested in our education system, both from my university work and as the dad of two children in primary school in Hitchin. Just like the NHS, the UK’s many excellent universities employ people and teach students from across the world—and they have faced major challenges from the twin hurdles of Brexit and COVID-19. As the proud husband of a hardworking Spaniard, I am also very aware of Brexit’s effects on our communities, and I have pledged to support EU citizens in the area with the government's Settlement Scheme.

Brexit is also continuing to distract us from the many important issues at home. The NHS needs to be put on a stable financial footing. Welfare needs to be fair, and treat people with dignity. And with the average selling price of a house in Hitchin now well over £400,000, the need for affordable stock is greater than ever.

I strongly support the Liberal Democrats’ core values of openness and tolerance, and I’m proud of what local Lib Dems have already done in joint administration of the council, and their wider plans for a greener, fairer and healthier Hertfordshire.

I will always be happy to hear from anyone, whatever their views on the issues that matter to us all. Please feel free to get in touch by email, and if you are a UK, Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen, please vote on May the 6th!