Andrew Jones hoping make it four in a row in Harrogate at General Election
Harrogate and Knaresborough Conservative candidate Andrew Jones may have won three elections in a row but he says he’s taking nothing for granted at the General Election in December..
Increasing his majority each time since first elected on May 7, 2010 does not mean the former rail minister is one to take voters’ support for granted, though he is proud of that achievement.
In fact, the Conservative former marketing man who ended 13 years of Liberal Democrat control in Harrogate and Knaresborough is reluctant to talk up his prospects after MPs voted this week to support a General Election before Christmas.
He says he’s happy to be judged on his record and hopes he will be seen as a champion of local issues.
Mr Jones said: “I have seen too many professional pollsters get predictions wrong to risk making any myself.
“Whether I continue as the area’s MP is up to the public in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Boroughbridge. I hope they feel I have been a champion for local communities.
“I champion our area not just because I am the Member of Parliament but because I am a local person who has lived a stone’s throw from Harrogate town centre for decades.”
Here, in the second of our series of features on the parties battling for the Harrogate and Knaresborough seat - which began last week with the Lib Dems - Mr Jones says he hopes voters will recognise his ongoing commitment to the region.
TRAINS AND ROADS:
He said: “After decades the pacer trains on our local line are going. Many have already left service and the remainder will be gone in the New Year.
“Next month, for the first time ever we are going to see multiple direct London train services to and from Harrogate on brand new Azuma trains. There are also more trains and faster services between Harrogate and Leeds.
“We have electric buses using a £2.25m government grant and buses retro-fitted with emission reducing technology.
“The threat of a road running alongside the beautiful Nidd Gorge has gone following a community campaign in which I played an active role.”
He said: “Over the nine years that I have been the MP, I have dealt with over 20,000 individuals by email, letter, by phone or in person.
“My team are local people, all based in my Harrogate office, and we do our best to help everyone who comes to us with a problem.
“There are much wider issues I deal with. I use our local NHS and am committed to supporting our hard-working doctors, nurses, clinical and support staff.
“I have volunteered at our hospital. Securing extra health funding was an important priority and maintaining and increasing that funding going forward is a priority too.
“I am passionate about the environment. I have volunteered with the Woodland Trust, at Rossett and Staveley Nature Reserves.
“I’ve bashed balsam at Birk Crag, helped lay footpaths in Hookstone Woods and promoted local tree planting programmes, raising the issue in the House of Commons.
“Even prior to being an MP, I worked as part of Plastic Bag Free Harrogate to promote re-useable shopping bags long before the Government introduced a charge for plastic bags.”
ANDREW’S LOCAL LINKS:
He said: “I have lived in Harrogate since the 1990s, firstly, on West End Avenue and, now, on Queen Parade.
“I was a councillor on Harrogate Borough Council between 2003 and 2011 and Member of Parliament since 2010 taking over from Phil Willis when he stood down.
“I thought Phil was a great local MP and I was determined to continue the local work he did while he was the MP.
“I use the same services and same shops local people use.
“That’s why I enjoy speaking out for local people and local organisations irrespective of any party political considerations.
“I hope people recognise that long-term commitment to the region.
“I love our area and want to work to make it even better.”
He said: “The visitor economy is critical so it is important that people know about our brilliant parks, gardens and countryside, about our trademark independent shops, local brands and Convention Centre.
“I have enabled local businesses such as Daleside and Roosters to showcase their products in the House of Commons bar, I have hosted trade delegations from China and brought Cabinet Ministers to see the fantastic work local companies do. Going forward, we need to find ways of adjusting to the new retail scene where a significant amount of retail is done at the keyboard rather than on the high street.
“This needs a new discussion about rents and rates.
“These are uncertain times - communities, workplaces and even families are divided. MPs must work to deliver progress and bring people back together.”
ANDREW JONES PROFILE
Mr Jones describes himself as a “proud Yorkshireman,” having being born and raised in Ilkley.
He went to school in Bradford and university in Leeds.
“After a period working in London I moved to Harrogate in the 1990s working in Leeds, initially, and then for Bettys and Taylors,” he said.
“I am passionate about volunteering and so got involved in our local community which led to me winning election to the council in 2003 representing the High Harrogate ward.
“On the council I continued my work to improve our environment promoting an Environmental Initiatives Fund which funded projects reducing carbon emissions.
“I was also the cabinet member for resources, freezing council tax.
“To relax I enjoy cricket - watching rather than playing these days.
“As a Yorkshire Cricket Club supporter, and member for 35 years, I get to Headingley whenever possible.
“I also enjoy listening to music and walking with friends.”