Questions about where I grew up and where I live come up every now and then, which I am very happy to answer.
I know it is important that residents learn about me if I am putting myself forward to represent this brilliant place as your next Member of Parliament.
I have not met a single person who wants to elect a public servant based solely on their postcode. As one person said to me, given the range of skills that are needed to be a Member of Parliament, it would be an odd thing to focus on a set of bricks rather than what the person can do.
That said, my home is currently outside of the constituency on the Gloucestershire/Oxfordshire border (unfortunately I have been advised not to give more specific details for security and privacy purposes in the current climate). I am sure that everyone will understand the challenges, time and expense of arranging a new home but my commitment to Stroud, the Valleys and Vale is that, if elected, I will do just that.
The commitment to get a home here is one I made to our local Conservative Association when I applied to be the candidate in 2018 and it is one that I am happy to repeat. I also reduced my hours at work to spend a lot of time in the constituency and more recently, I gave up work completely to spend all my time with people here. This has naturally had an impact on my financial position. I am aware not a lot of people realise that we do not get any funding at all to be a candidate and most of us cannot afford to get new homes in these circumstances.
I won the opportunity to be your candidate fair and square in a rigorous competition where a number of people applied. I won on the first ballot too, beating two excellent military men (who have gone on to get seats elsewhere) so I have a strong mandate from our local members.
I have frequently described myself as the luckiest candidate in the country. Those who have been following my website and social media will know that since being selected as the Conservative candidate, I have been working tirelessly to improve the lives of the residents and get to know as many people as possible. I achieved all of this alongside maintaining my day job in the charity sector.
Thankfully, I rarely meet anybody who is so negative to say that I or my candidacy is not welcome here. I have however been called a carpet bagger, told ive been parachuted in and much worse online. I think most people realise that unpleasantness and undertones of ‘go home’ in these is not representative of the people of Stroud. This area is packed full of people from all over the UK and the world.
Organisations like the GFirstLEP are clear that they want Gloucestershire to be a ‘magnate’ area - attracting new talent to move and invest here. I can help with that mission. I am somebody who is choosing to be here with you as I believe in our communities and I believe I can do a good job for you all at home and in Westminster.
In any event, I think we should be encouraging people from all backgrounds, cultures, experiences and talents to run for parliament everywhere - not narrow the field in any way. Residents should have the widest and best choice possible at the ballot box.
For the sake of completeness, please note that I am living in the Stroud constituency with a friend during the course of the elections and you will, of course as usual, be seeing a lot of me!
As your local MP…
I will be a hard working constituency focused MP who listens.
As mentioned above, I will ensure that I have a home in the constituency.
I am committed to being as open and accessible as possible with a constituency office that is easy to reach. Having spent a career as a lawyer helping families, often at the most difficult time of their lives, I understand the importance of helping residents deal with the challenges and issues they face.
I will hold regular help and advice surgeries that are open to all, with other meet ups available in villages and support for local councillors.
I love canvassing and as you may have already seen, I do not wait until elections to get started. I have been consistently knocking on doors since I was selected and I will continue to regularly knock on doors to listen to the views of all local people.
By way of background, I grew up in Yorkshire in a single parent family. I was educated at the local state school before A-Levels at the local sixth form college. I did not go to university but started working as a legal secretary and worked whilst putting myself through distance learning and law school at the weekends to qualify as a solicitor. I built a successful 17 year legal career in family law before deciding to use my skills in the policy and charity sector.
My husband and I moved to the Cotswolds years ago and we are absolutely committed to Stroud, the Valleys and Vale. Having fallen for the rural Cotswold communities, Stroud, the Valleys and Vale is a natural fit and was the *only constituency I applied to represent. I have stood in a parliamentary election before - but I did not apply for that seat. I was asked to stand in the snap election of 2017 and I am really pleased that I had the experience of dong so.