Election 2017: Saffron Walden Conservative candidate for the general election is not taking seat for granted
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The Conservative candidate in Saffron Walden says she has “bright, new, and fresh ideas” to put forward during her campaign for the seat at next month’s general election.
Kemi Badenoch, 37, who is currently deputy leader of the Tory group in the London Assembly, has replaced Sir Alan Haselhurst following his decision to step down after 40 years.
Wimbledon-born Mrs Badenoch, who is married with two children, admits the last month has been a whirlwind.
She said: “It’s been very intense. One month ago, I had no idea firstly that an election would be called, and secondly, that I would be fighting the seat in Saffron Walden.
“I am really excited, but it’s a kind of nervous excitement. People have been so welcoming here that I have already felt very at home.”
Mrs Badenoch, who has degrees in engineering and law, says she is not taking the seat for granted despite a near 25,000 Tory majority.
“I say to people that that majority is Sir Alan’s majority and I will be fighting for every vote in this election.
“I certainly won’t be taking anything for granted because we’ve seen shocks in politics before and they still happen.”
Mrs Badenoch, who is also currently house hunting in the area, says she will be focusing on issues over aircraft noise at Stansted Airport, school places and lack of broadband and mobile signal.
She said: “The aircraft noise issue is something I have experience with, having dealt with similar issues at Heathrow. I visited Stansted Airport to meet with representatives there as I felt it was important to get both sides of the equation and it is something I’ll be looking at.
“The pressure on school places is another issue and as a former school governor, I will be looking to address that, rather than the standards of our schools, which are already very high.
“The lack of broadband and mobile signal in rural areas is something which has affected me since I have come here. Increasingly, it’s becoming very hard to do certain things without the internet and I will pushing hard for better access.”
Mrs Badenoch says she understands residents’ concerns over a perceived lack of local knowledge going into the election. She said: “I do understand that but I feel I have bright, new and fresh ideas to bring to this seat as well as a background in engineering.
“Local knowledge can be gained through knocking on doors and that’s what I intend to do. Sir Alan and the local Conservatives have been a gold mine of information already and if I have any questions, I know I can just pick up the phone.”