Election 2015: Liberal Democrat candidate Sandy Walkington
PUBLISHED: 12:01 29 April 2015
Contentious proposals to expand St Albans' urban footprint onto the Green Belt could be halted with the creation of new 'garden cities' according to Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for St Albans, Sandy Walkington.
He told the Herts Advertiser that new cities including in areas such as between Royston and Hitchin would “have a lot of resonance” here in St Albans, where there is pressure to expand onto green fields.
One of his party’s goals is to build 300,000 homes a year, including in 10 such cities.
Sandy said: “Everybody wants to come and live here. In terms of St Albans’ Green Belt, there has been talk of building houses on the former Radlett Airfield site in Park Street, but a council study showed that was one of the most valuable bits of Green Belt in the district because of the role it plays in preventing coalescence of communities.
“The assumption is that St Albans will ‘break’ if it grows much more.”
Social housing/housing crisis
Sandy said that a move to extend the right to buy policy to housing association properties is “completely lunatic”.
He added: “The Conservatives have many stupid ideas, but none beat the sheer stupidity of this one. The idea that in St Albans housing associations should be forced to sell some of the very few units they have … at a discount … is completely lunatic.”
Sandy suggested that more council-owned sites, including those belonging to the county, should be made available for housing to help the area cope with demand for social housing and affordable homes.
Human Rights Act
Asked whether he would support the repeal of the Human Rights Act if elected, Sandy replied that he would not as: “The idea of a British bill of rights would be a dodgy concept - the whole point about human rights is that they are universal, everyone gets protection, and no one is above the law.”
He added: “If you believe what the tabloid papers say, then human rights were invented in Brussels or Strasbourg [but] they were invented at St Albans Abbey, 802 years ago, because that is where they conceived Magna Carta, which was effectively the first statement of human rights.”
The Lib Dem candidate would “prioritise mending the current road infrastructure”.
Commenting on pothole-ridden roads in St Albans, Sandy said they needed to be fixed more efficiently and more money was needed to do the job properly.
Criticising Herts county council which out-sources repairs he added: “Frankly far too often repairs are botched or done in a slapdash way so a pothole gets re-filled over and over again.”
Standing up for immigrants Sandy said: “They don’t exploit our welfare benefits. This is one of these myths pedalled by the Daily Express.
“I am totally in favour of free-flow within the European Union. The reality is our hospitals would fall over without the immigrants who work there.”
Sandy praised the likes of Fosse House and Vesta Lodge Care Homes, both of which have employees of many different nationalities working for them.
He said: “They feed people, clean them, cook for them, we should be very grateful that they do that.
“Immigrants put more into a country than they take out.”
However, any loopholes in the welfare benefits system needed to be closed.