As we approach the five year anniversary of the Liberal Democrats taking control of St Albans council – and after two years of their party holding virtually every seat on the council – all is not well in our district.

Having re-secured their huge majority on the council on a big set-piece pledge to protect the Green Belt in May it became clear within months that their promise was not worth the paper it was written on.

Their new Local Plan proposes thousands of new houses on vast areas of Green Belt – a manifesto-breaking slap in the face to all those who trusted them with their vote.

Their argument for breaking their manifesto was derisory. They couldn’t protect the Green Belt like they promised in May, because of rules that had been in place long before they made the promise to begin with – rules which the Government has since changed.

Unfortunately for them, their Lib Dem colleagues in Three Rivers have shown this up as a hollow excuse. That Lib Dem-run council has taken up my challenge to St Albans last year and is challenging its housing target – proposing a Local Plan that delivers less than half the housing it suggests they need and standing up for their Green Belt in doing so.

Their example shows the St Albans Lib Dems in stark contrast – an unambitious council who told you what they thought you wanted to hear; then didn’t even try to deliver on it.

And things only get worse from there. Under the Lib Dems, the council is one of the seven worst in the country for strategic planning – with the Local Plan’s adoption recently delayed yet again until March 2026.

Nearly seven years to do one of their most basic functions and pass a Local Plan. Nearly seven years leaving our Green Belt at risk to unscrupulous developers.

They have also presided over one of the five worst planning departments in the country.

With more than 30 per cent of non-major applications failing to be decided within their target timeframes, the Government has now had to step in to sanction the council and allow developers to bypass elected councillors and your council and go straight to the Planning Inspectorate when trying to build developments of up to nine houses.

Five years of failure again leaving you less in control of your communities.

Years of poor financial management and wasted money on failed projects have eaten away at the council’s budgets, but rather than take accountability for that as they have slashed support for the elderly this year, their Deputy Leader has instead attacked the idea of support for the elderly as “unfair”.

Against this backdrop, I’ll continue to fight for our communities’ interests.

I am pleased to report that thanks to our efforts the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency has received more funding from the Multi-Sport Grassroots Facilities Programme than any other in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

That is delivering great new facilities for local people, including two new 3G pitches in Harpenden – in Rothamsted Park and at KWS.

At the recent Budget, which I was proud to support as a Treasury Minister, the changes we’ve announced to National Insurance (combined with the changes we made in the autumn) mean that the average full-time earner in our constituency will be £1,250 better off this year.

Pensioners on the full new state pension will receive £902 extra thanks to the protection of the Triple Lock, while working parents will benefit from changes to the High Income Child Benefit Charge thresholds.

We’re also investing in more productive public services – helping to deliver better services, cut waste and improve efficiency while we reduce your taxes.

Something which I hope the Lib Dems in St Albans might take some inspiration from.