Meet your District Council Candidates 

We have an election coming up on Thursday 8th July to elect a new District Councillor. We heard from four of the candidates and put the community's questions to them - Lara Davenport-Ray (Green), Ben Pitt (Independent), Geoff Seeff (Liberal Democrat) and Helen Stroud (Labour).

We were sorry that Sam Collins (Conservative) was unable to participate at the last minute for personal reasons, but he sent us these written answers to the questions after the hustings.

Sam1) From St Neots Youth Council: Do you think it's important to listen to young people? How would you make sure you understood and listened to the views of young people within the constituency and that young people are represented and consulted within Huntingdonshire District Council? 

Engaging young people in the political process is vital for the future of our democracy. As someone who engaged in politics from an early age myself, I’m always looking for opportunities to engage with younger people. I would work with existing young people’s groups to engage them in the political process, as well as welcome any opportunity to speak to school kids about elected politics.  
2) From Olive Irons: Love's Farm and Wintringham are communities with a mixture of homes that are privately owned and social housing. Many social tenants survive with very little and scrape by to heat their homes and feed their children. What do you think HDC could do to better support our friends and neighbours that are struggling to get by?   

The Conservative controlled council has already been active in supporting those battling to get by during the pandemic. Almost £50,000 in additional funds has been given out by the council to support the vulnerable over the past year, including purchasing supermarket vouchers for those in need and providing hot meals for the vulnerable. The council has also done their part by keeping District Council council tax frozen for the next year to avoid adding burdens to hardworking families. 

3) From James Boyle: Candidates who were present at the most recent LFCA meeting will be aware of plans to build a car park on the 'Loves Farm' side of the train station. This will not benefit Loves Farm residents but will result in many more vehicles driving through residential areas to get to the station. It is also inevitable that some drivers will resort to parking illegally or outside residents' homes when the new car park is full. If you are elected as our district councillor what steps will you take on our behalf to mitigate these issues? 

When I lived in Love’s Farm I found non-residents using our parking spaces to avoid costs in the station car park to be one of the great constant annoyances. The council parking restrictions have removed a lot of the incentive for parking cheats. I know that residents parking permits was an option that was considered at the time, so I would push for this to be reconsidered as an option is possible.  

4) From Stephen Mulvey / Siriol Hogg: How do you intend to make yourself accessible and accountable to the community?  

I want to be a councillor for everyone on Love’s Farm, whether or not they voted for me. I would hold regular surgeries that residents could attend and speak to me about their issues. However, the best way to hold a councillor accountable is through elections, and so the people of Love’s Farm will have a chance to hold the new councillor to account in less than a year!
5) From Jessica Sanchez: How will you ensure sustainability in any planning applications for new housing in the district? 

We should ensure that development helps us meet the ambitious net carbon zero national targets and that all housing is accessible by green public transport to assist in getting cars off of the road. I will not only speak on this but work to ensure our design guide is reviewed and is up to date
6) From Helene Tame: Understanding that the elected candidate will be in office for less than a year initially, if you could achieve just one thing this year, what would it be? 

Aside from being an additional voice for St Neots and Love’s Farm in particular on HDC during the recovery from the pandemic, my one (hopefully achievable!) goal within the first year would be to improve road safety on Love’s Farm, particularly the roads around Round House school.  
7) From Grazyna Michalska: What are your views on parking enforcement and what will you do to ensure the situation changes in our District?  
Parking restrictions are very important to me - people parking dangerously or inconsiderately annoy and put locals at risk. The current arrangement where on-street parking is enforced by police clearly isn’t working. The Conservative controlled council recently applied for (and was granted) civil parking enforcement powers, which allowed parking offences to be enforced by council officers. I endorse this decision and would continue to push for a fair share of parking inspectors to be deployed to Love’s Farm - especially if the new rail station car park goes ahead.  
8) From Jonathan Tame: Do you think that, given the pressure on the high street shops from online shopping and the pandemic, we should introduce 30 minutes of free parking in St Neots during the working week?'  

I would support this if the costs/benefits added up. There would clearly have to be additional parking enforcement (therefore with additional costs) to check cars once an hour to ensure no one was taking advantage of this generous scheme. I like the idea in principle (this was very successful in my home town of Christchurch in New Zealand), but would clearly need further information.