With Harpenden partnered with Berkhamsted ahead of the next general election, the town's residents must get to know a number of new candidates in the area.

Harpenden's current MP, the Conservative Party's Bim Afolami, will run in the Hitchin constituency after the split, with Nigel Gardner taking his place as the Tories' Harpenden & Berkhamsted candidate.

Victoria Collins will represent the Liberal Democrats, while Paul De Hoest will lead The Green Party's charge.

The Greens have had success in recent times in Hertfordshire with Matt Fisher, Juliet Voisey and Simon Grover all on the largely Liberal Democrat St Albans City & District Council.

Herts Advertiser: Paul De Hoest will face the Lib Dems' Victoria Collins and the Tories' Nigel Gardner for the seat.Paul De Hoest will face the Lib Dems' Victoria Collins and the Tories' Nigel Gardner for the seat. (Image: Pearce Bates)

To find out more about the Green Party's new candidate for Harpenden, The Herts Advertiser spoke with Paul De Hoest about his background in politics and his life outside of public affairs.

Paul began: "I was quite active in the Labour Party years ago, back in the 80s.

"I came in off the back of miner strikes and Thatcherism and all of that period, so my background is relatively working class.

"We were a poor household, we didn't own our own house or anything like that.

"I guess that's where my roots came from, championing things for the poor really.

 "I didn't have a particularly happy time at school really, it was a fairly difficult school environment.

"Although, I was actually a smart kid at school, I did well at school, I was academically bright."

Now a father and grandfather, Paul has spent time in the Merchant Navy in the past before going to university in Wolverhampton.

"That's when I got more active in politics, traditionally Labour Party, but I left them during the Blair years.

"I felt they lost their way a bit, certainly during the Iraq war, that was why I left.

"I became active in the Greens in the late 2000s, I think I actually joined in 2009.

"My children were in their late teens at the time, and I was looking at them and thinking about what their future was looking like.

"Climate change was not as big an issue as today but, if you kept close to the news, that was definitely coming up.

"Pollution was a big deal, unfairness was around, we had the bankers crash.

"It all felt to me that I should get back into politics."

Paul has previously stood at a general election in 2017, and for four years, was one of two Green councillors on Berkhamsted Town Council.

Along with the thermal imaging of houses, he has also been campaigning for electric vehicle chargers in Berkhamsted.

Should he be elected, the Green candidate stated: "From a national point of view, we really need to do something about changing the balance from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

"At the moment we subsidise fossil fuel extraction in the North Sea, to a degree, we would remove those subsidies and use the cash to build alternative energy sources.

"Renewable energy sources are perfectly doable and perfectly viable but we would need to upgrade the grid to do so.

"So, a big investment in renewable energy, and a big investment for homes in terms of insulation."

Outside of politics, Paul has began to learn a new language and experiments with art from time to time: "My father was Dutch, my mother was English.


"We never spoke any Dutch at all and its something that I've now started learning. Being brought up in English education we never spoke any foreign languages apart from holiday French.

"So I've found that quite a challenge to start learning a new language in your sixties! 

"That's going okay, I like art, so I do a bit of painting. I've got a reasonable-sized garden so there's things to do there, and we've not got a grandchild he's coming up to two-years-old and he's adorable!"