Parliamentary candidates for Hitchin and Harpenden have explained why you should vote for them.

Ahead of the General Election on December 12, five candidates will be vying for the seat currently held by Bim Afolami.

In the last election in May 2017, the constituency voted 53 percent for Conservative, 32 percent for Labour, 10 percent for Liberal Democrat, 2.3 percent for the Green Party, 1.1 percent for Independent and 0.4 percent for Christian Peoples Alliance.

Here is what the candidates had to say:

Bim Afolami, Conservative

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

After the last three years, I know that the last thing many of you wanted was another election. However, I am urging you to keep faith with me, and the Conservative Party, in Hitchin and Harpenden.

Increasing schools funding has been my top local priority.

Under the Conservatives, our schools in Hitchin and Harpenden will receive an increase of over 4.60% per pupil in school funding in 2020-21. If we are re-elected, we will deliver two more guaranteed years of significant school funding rises.

I have also been a strong voice in Parliament on the environment.

In September, I held a climate change conference in Harpenden to develop policies and ideas on how to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (which the Conservatives legislated for earlier this year).

Not everything has gone according to plan.

The problems to our train service caused by the debacle of May 2018 have still not been fully dealt with.

I have tried to work constructively with Thameslink over recent months to put things right, but they seem incapable of being brave enough to correct their original mistakes.

Their time has run out. I am campaigning for the Government to take away their franchise.

Finally, Brexit. I voted Remain, but I have never believed that a second referendum will bring the salvation people sought.

That is why I support the Prime Minister’s sensible deal.

We can get Brexit done whilst ensuring that key industries like financial services and scientific research are protected and move on to our domestic priorities.

Sam Collins, Liberal Democrat

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

When I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2016, I was driven by a growing concern for the local area, and a strong feeling that the safe seat of Hitchin & Harpenden was being taken for granted, with Harpenden in particular having had no change in representation for almost 70 years.

That’s why I ran to become a Councillor in 2018, and have worked hard ever since, including with local commuter groups to get the train timetable restored, raising the issue twice in the House of Lords. But there is much more work to be done, with the situation in Harpenden remaining utterly unacceptable.

I would love to take this fight to a higher level as an MP, to improve not just our local train services, but to invest in our schools and NHS, and to tackle the climate emergency head-on. As an engineer and technology consultant, I have a particular interest and expertise in this area.

My commitment to you is that my interests will always be firmly aligned to those of my constituents, ahead of my Party, and ahead of my own career prospects.

We hear it ad nauseam – this election presents a unique opportunity for change.

Change that will determine our future relationship with Europe. Change that will determine the health of our economy. Change that will either help accelerate or stop the devastating impact threatened by Brexit on our local area.

Only the Liberal Democrats can beat Boris’s Conservatives in Hitchin & Harpenden. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for change, to push-back against the lurch of the big parties to the extremes, and to help stop Brexit.

Sid Cordle, Christians Peoples Alliance

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

I am standing in Hitchin and Harpenden because I live here and am involved in the community here.

My wife and I have put on a number of para church events and I am active in a local church. My step son goes to Hitchin boys school.

I stood to be a parent governor there having been a governor of several schools and a chair of Governors.

My party has 5 key pledges.

1. Uphold democracy and leave the EU as soon as possible.

2. Support marriage and the family. Give a grant of £12,000 when people get married for the first time back up with training and support and also £6000 when they have their first child so it’s foolish not to get married and have children afterwards.

3. Protect the unborn. We would take steps to greatly reduce abortion with the aim of getting rid of it entirely over time.

4. Make tax fair and help the poor. We would introduce a turnover tax of five percent targeted at overseas companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft.

We would use some of the est. £32bn proceeds to restore the £12bn cuts to benefits to make Universal credit work and guarantee a night shelter for everyone sleeping rough.

5. Fight crime. We will help and support people leaving prison.

Reoffending rates average 30 percent but can be as high as 62 percent. These schemes have got them below 10 percent which means fewer victims.

We will also create more youth activities. If you support these values please vote for them.

Peter Marshall, Advance Together Party

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

The Advance Together party have launched a tactical campaigning crowd funder to stop a Conservative majority.

The party are running a digital campaigning operation to deliver honest advertisements to people across the country to encourage them to vote strategically.

Advance Together are seeking to raise £100,000 in a week to ensure the network of Brexit-supporting third-party campaigning groups do not have the upper hand in the last days of the election.

Leader Annabel Mullin said: "Advance Together is fighting against the politics of the extremes.

"Our aim is to deliver an election result that ends the insolence, chaos and divisiveness entrenched in our two-party system.

"We know the radical right will be pulling out every dirty trick in the book.

"You may have seen some of our ads. We're talking to people about the risks to the NHS of a Boris Government and about how this Conservative party has gone to the extremes.

"People deserve the facts so they can vote in their own best interest."

Campaign director Kyle Taylor said: "Current estimates suggest there are more than a dozen identifiable registered groups running "dark ads" that back Brexit, the Tories or both.

"Unlike most groups on the other side, we're being completely transparent about who we are, what we wants and how we'll achieve it.

"Election law is currently not fit for purpose."

Kay Tart, Labour

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

I’m standing for election for the Labour Party because I want the world our children to inherit to be better than the world we inherited. I’m a District Councillor at North Herts District Council where I am the deputy portfolio holder for Environment & Leisure and I’m local. I was born and raised in this constituency and am now raising my own family here. The issues that matter to local residents matter to me, and I feel very strongly that our country needs real change - that’s why I became involved in politics.

I’ve been campaigning for over a year for proper education funding, but we also need truly affordable housing, a transport system that works, a fully funded health and social care service and to take proper positive action on climate change, both locally and nationally. These are all things that I’m passionate about and that Labour in government can deliver.

I believe that local people have grown tired of being represented by an MP who has no understanding of what it’s like to live in the real world and who takes their votes for granted. It’s time for change, it’s time to rebuild our public services and it’s time to bring our communities together. People here in Hitchin and Harpenden need an MP that will put them first and a voice in Parliament that truly represents them. I will be that voice.