New Tory MP Oliver Dowden is ‘proud’ of his St Albans roots

Oliver Dowden, Hertsmere MP, with his wife, Blythe, on election night

Oliver Dowden, Hertsmere MP, with his wife, Blythe, on election night - Credit: Andrew Grady

One of Parliament’s newest recruits represents a neighbouring constituency but is proud of his strong St Albans roots.

When the swearing in of MPs in the new Parliament started on Tuesday, among those taking an oath of allegiance was Oliver Dowden, Hertsmere’s new representative.

The Tory has taken over the seat of James Clappison, who decided against standing in this year’s General Election.

Speaking to the Herts Advertiser following the announcement of his successful election Oliver said that he was born in Park Street and grew up both in that village and Bricket Wood.

The 36 year old now lives in St Albans with his wife Blythe and their two young children who attend a local school.

His mum still works in London Colney.

It was while a pupil at Parmiter’s School in Watford that Oliver developed an interest in politics, but he admits, “I never dreamed I would become a Member of Parliament.

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“I got a good start at Parmiter’s and secured a place to read law at Cambridge University.”

After training as a lawyer, he had a ‘great experience’ teaching in Japan before returning to the UK when he gained a foothold in politics, working in an advisory capacity for Michael Howard and getting to know George Osborne and David Cameron.

Five years ago he began working at Downing Street where until recently he was deputy chief of staff, responsible for driving the PM’s policies and political agenda.

He also worked with cabinet members and senior advisors, for example on education reform.

Asked what issues he intends pursuing in Parliament, Oliver replied that the “disastrous” rail freight scheme given the green light by Eric Pickles in Park Street was a problem he intended tackling.

He said: “It was a disastrous decision in terms of impact upon the Green Belt and the pressure it will put on our roads, with thousands of additional lorries.

“I know it has been given approval but I’m determined even at the 11th hour to try and frustrate this scheme.

“I intend pursuing every last avenue to stop this – right up until the first digger goes in.”

The politician voiced his support for the stance taken by campaign group STRiFE and St Albans district council, both of which have refused to back down over the loathed bid.

He will also keep a close eye on Thameslink, as he is a regular commuter to London from St Albans and “I know how awful it is already”.