This post is the latest instalment in my by-election series where I will interview the candidates standing in Chesham and Amersham this month.
Today, I am featuring Peter Fleet, the Conservative Party candidate. The seat has never not been held by the Conservatives, so Peter is hoping to keep that tradition alive when residents take to the polls on Thursday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has even been spotted campaigning in Chesham.
Here’s what he had to say…
Any views expressed in this post are not my own, but those of the interviewees.
- Affordable housing
- Social mobility
- The NHS
- The community
When asked about affordable housing, Peter was keen to highlight that he understands the issue. “As a parent, I recognise the worries for children and young people.”
However, he said it’s not a straightforward issue as planning is difficult in Chesham and Amersham. It’s important to protect all our green spaces, so that creates a “natural tension”, Peter explained.
His plan is to identify new brownfield sites and target them for development. Out on the campaign trail Peter said he has seen a lot of underused brownfield sites that would be perfect.
There is going to be a new local plan for Buckinghamshire – led by the council, but MPs will be involved.
Peter said he will advocate “very strongly” for developing brownfield sites. Once the sites have been identified, it’s then important to make sure the right amount is allocated for genuinely affordable and social housing.
“You can’t just have some houses that are a little less expensive than the others,” he stressed.
Peter acknowledged that some of his fellow candidates will advocate for ameliorating social mobility by introducing a raft of government packages and measures.
Instead, he likes to approach social mobility as an opportunity.
He explained that he was educated at his local comprehensive and that his parents came from modest backgrounds.
One of the best things about the area, which in turn benefits social mobility is the “diversity and quality of education”. Every secondary school in the constituency has a Good or Outstanding Ofsted rating.
“It’s important we continue to have excellent education.” The government are putting record sums into education and plan to keep doing so, Peter added.
Buckinghamshire is also one of the few areas in the country that still has grammar schools. This is something which Peter supports because he thinks adds too the diversity of the education offering.
Highlighting his commitment to grammar schools, he noted that it is Liberal Democrat policy to abolish them.
Due to the furlough scheme, the number of jobs lost during the pandemic has been relatively small. “Of course, it’s horrendous if you’re on of those [that has lost their job],” he acknowledged. But, we’re dealing with far lower unemployment levels than many originally predicted.
In the constituency 14,500 jobs were potentially protected by the furlough scheme. Additionally, over 3,000 self-employed people received government support through grants.
In terms of supporting job creation in Chesham and Amersham, he wants to offer guidance and support to local businesses to help them grow and employ more local people.
“I’d like to be a very hands on, sleeves rolled up MP,” Peter said. He’s not a career politician and has had a 30-year career, which has taken him all over the world.
He wants to use this experience – most recently he worked at Ford – to offer practical help to local businesses and help them expand and develop. This in turn could help to create more jobs and make the constituency more prosperous, he said.
Peter said that if people are concerned about the state of the NHS they should “look at what the NHS has achieved in the past 16 months”. These achievements aren’t limited to immediate health care, but also include genomics, vaccination and medical solutions.
“We can and should be really proud of that.”
Peter said the many staff must be nearing burn out. They must have access to all the support they require. He stressed, the government had “really stepped up” in funds for the NHS and supporting staff.
Highlighting the important work nurses have done during the pandemic, he believes they should be treated as a special case and should get the pay rise they deserve.
Chesham and Amersham is lucky to have a lot of community organisations, doing very important work to support vulnerable individuals and make a difference to people’s lives.
A positive to come from the pandemic is “the fresh impetus and engagement in volunteering.”
He described these charities as a “really attractive” part of society and said he is committed to further supporting them if elected.
The vaccination rollout is both a “great tribute” to the NHS and the local community. Peter, like thousands of others, had both his vaccinations at Chesham Town Hall. This was facilitated by the hard work of local surgeries and volunteers.
Within the constituency, 55% have had two vaccinations and 83% have had one (as of 11 June).
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