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Tory MP hopefuls have their say

PUBLISHED: 17:20 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:39 12 August 2010

THE only local candidate to be shortlisted for one of the safest Tory seats in the country has pulled out of the race after he won the

THE only local candidate to be shortlisted for one of the safest Tory seats in the country has pulled out of the race after he won the candidacy for another seat more than 80 miles away.

Deputy leader of Reigate and Banstead council Daniel Poulter, who works as a doctor at the Princess Royal Hospital, Farnborough, has withdrawn from the race to become Beckenham's Conservative candidate.

Last Friday the doctor in obstetrics, gynaecology and women's health, was selected at an open primary to become the Conservative candidate for the strong Tory seat of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

This means the shortlist of six has now become five, leaving Beckenham with no local candidates, when residents decide who their Conservative candidate will be, at an open primary this Sunday.

This week the Times quizzed each of the remaining candidates about what they would do for the constituency if they were chosen and went on to become Beckenham's MP.

Tariq Ahmad

Tariq Ahmad, 41, a director from Wimbledon Park, failed in his bid to win the Croydon North parliamentary seat in 2005 which Labour held. Last year, he was appointed as vice chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibilities for cities.

He described Beckenham as "beautiful" and said it would be a pleasure to represent it and make it his home.

He said his top issues were planning applications and the fear of crime, adding: "I believe my 18 years of business experience, together with my charitable and community work, as well as my seven years as serving as a councillor in London, provides me with unique set of skills of being able to best serve and represent Beckenham's residents.

"I am strong advocate for taking decision making into the community. I shall hold quarterly question and answer sessions across the constituency where the community sets the agenda, as well as weekly mobile ward surgeries to deal with individual constituent matters.

"In addition, I want to introduce a panel of advisors from the local area who are experts in their field, to advise me directly on legislation and challenge me on party policy across all areas."

Lynne Hack

Cancer Research scientist Lynne Hack, former leader of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council said she has visited the area hundreds of times as her grandparents lived nearby.

She said over development of the area would be her priority as well as tackling gang crime "amongst young people from the Lewisham area".

She added: "I would use my knowledge of the health service to make better decisions on management structures, such as a significant role for matrons.

"My scientific background will help me to weigh up different sides of complex problems and take balanced decisions.

"I have also gained experience as a working mother of raising a family and running a home, which allows me to manage my time efficiently."

She said she would seek to be an "equally good" MP as Jacqui Lait, who currently holds the seat, adding: "I would hope to be involved in science and health issues being debated in the House of Commons."

Sally Marks

Surrey councillor Sally Marks, 55, from Woldingham, Caterham, also plans to move to the area if she were selected and voted in.

She said: "I have friends who live in the constituency; my brother has a part ownership of an excellent restaurant in Coney Hall - The Coney, which we go to frequently. As a family we have, in the past, taken advantage of the high quality health care in Beckenham.

"I have frequently shopped in the area and of course we go to the wonderful theatre in neighbouring Bromley."

Her priorities would be on inappropriate development and the potential loss of open spaces as well as law and order and the protection of vital health services.

She admits that she has not always wanted to be an MP, adding: "I have had a very busy, fulfilling and varied life and gained experience in many fields over the years. It is only now that I feel I am properly equipped and sufficiently well-rounded to be able to do the job properly and can bring to the role all the many aspects of my career and general life experience.

"My determination would be to meet as many people as I can; to engage with the many groups and all the different sections of the constituency."

Jo-Anne Nadler

Broadcaster and biographer Jo-Anne Nadler, 43, from Putney, said she would move to Beckenham if she were successful and has visited enough to

understand the concerns of local people.

Her priorities would be to fight over-development, fight for a better deal for taxpayers and reverse the threat of increasing unemployment in Beckenham.

She added: "I am patriotic with strong conservative convictions. And I am a mother who passionately wants to put this country back on track for the sake of both my family and your readers.

"This is not career politics but it is a commitment to helping make Beckenham and Britain as great as it can be.

"I will be approachable and accountable to Beckenham but I will not replicate the role of the excellent local councillors. Ultimately I believe MPs should take a lead not just on local but also on national issues; and so if the people of Beckenham want a strong MP, advocating their

concerns with conviction in Westminster they should vote for me in the Conservative primary.

"Jacqui Lait has worked incredibly hard for the people of Beckenham for over a decade and should be thanked for being such a dedicated and conscientious constituency MP.

"I hope that I can build on her achievements, should I be lucky enough to be selected as Beckenham's next MP."

Bob Stewart

Bob Stewart, 60, from Kingston, Surrey, former UN Commander in Bosnia, said he would move to the constituency if he was chosen. He had only been to the area twice before he was shortlisted but claims that he has "walked the streets" of Beckenham, West Wickham or Hayes almost every day since.

When asked about the top issues for Beckenham residents he said: "The top issue is the total failure of the British economy with its knock-on effects on businesses and jobs.

"People are very worried about the cost of living and not having enough money - whether they be young or older."

He added: "I hope to do the very best job possible if I became an MP. Despite what many think I believe being an MP is still an honourable

profession.

"I would have three

political priorities in my life. They are my country, my constituents and my party in that priority order. They will normally be totally aligned. I realise absolutely that whatever power I may have and any complementary authority would come from the people of Beckenham.

"Hopefully my past record

suggests that, when I say I will tell the truth and act decently, people who live in Beckenham will believe me. I will tell the truth and act decently.

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