Conservative candidate promises ‘constituency before party’ – and that includes EWR

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East West Rail (EWR) jacket
Image: East West Rail Co

The Conservative candidate for Bedford has said if elected she will stand up for the constituents even if that means not agreeing with the local party’s point of view.

In May, a Conservative Party member contacted the Local Democracy Reporting Service to claim that Pinder Chauhan’s campaign had “faltered” due to a local disagreement about the route for East West Rail.

The member claimed that Ms Chauhan had supported a different route to the one preferred by local party activists. Ms Chauhan said that she wants to ensure that any route that has been selected works for the people of Bedford.

Read: Conservative MP candidate says long-term benefits of EWR will outweigh initial negative impact on Borough

“I think mayor Tom is fighting for a different area geographically, he’s looking at the whole of Bedford borough, which also includes the northern villages,” she said.

“I am just concerned about Bedford and Kempston, this is the area that I would stand up for [if elected].

“Because Bedford needs it, we need that investment.

“I haven’t chosen a different route, this is the route that was already chosen before I was even selected to be a candidate, which is going to impact some houses in Poets, and the Poets area is obviously, and rightly so, quite sensitive about their homes being demolished.

“They’re beautiful homes, they’re huge, they’re lovely and there’s so much character, so I understand their concern. I’m saying that Route E is coming, it’s in the consultation, and I don’t feel it’s going to change.

“It’s not about supporting any particular route, it’s about ensuring that this train line comes to Bedford and that the town prospers from it,” she said.

“Town is dead”

Ms Chauhan said shopkeepers are telling her the town is dead and there’s no footfall.

“There’s no people coming through here,” she said. “You want something to be able to attract people into the town, you want people to stay in Bedford, you want this to be a destination town.

“You want the Bedford economy to benefit from that, we don’t want this to be a missed opportunity. When I’m speaking to people around Bedford they want East West Rail they’re saying it would be great.

“It’s not about going against anyone’s view or anything, I just want what’s best for Bedford. To me, politics is about doing what’s best for the people you represent.

“It’s not about just representing part of your group that believes a certain route is wrong or right and just following that.

“There’s no conflict between me and anyone as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Ms Chauhan added that people have been “left in limbo”, with some being unable to sell their homes, and others not getting the right value for their homes.

“East West Rail, yes, I think it’s a good thing, I don’t think that route is going to change,” she said. “I think it’s going to be more emotional turmoil fighting the route and saying they want it changed.

“I’m happy for the route to change as long as it comes into Bedford and people benefit from it,” she said.

The other candidates standing in Bedford are:

  • Prince Sadiq Chaudhury – Workers Party
  • Ben Foley – Green Party
  • Tarek Javed – Independent
  • Matt Lansley – Reform UK
  • Henry Vann – Lib Dem
  • Mohammad Yasin – Labour

The election will be held on 4 July.

By John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter