HitchinMagOctober2018Website - Page 24



What’s your connection to Hitchin?
I was elected in June 2017 as the MP for Hitchin
and Harpenden, following Peter Lilley’s retirement
after serving since 1983. So I had some extremely
big shoes to fill, but I think the differences between
Peter and myself are a good thing. He was a
fantastic MP, and a real local champion, and there
is a huge amount I can learn from that.
I live 20 minutes away from Hitchin, which is great
because it means I get to spend a lot of time in the
town and surrounding villages. I’m working with
local groups to keep Hitchin centre vibrant and
thriving, as well as supporting local charities such
as Phase and GRIT, both of which focus on young
peoples’ mental health.
What town centre view would you pick
to be a postcard of Hitchin?
Market Square or St Mary’s church. Iconic and
powerful.
When strangers ask you why Hitchin is special,
what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
The people! Alternative, independent minded and
traditionally English - all at the same time. It is a
huge privilege to be the MP for such a great group
of people.
What’s the biggest eyesore in town?
Churchgate, I’m afraid! It needs redeveloping!
If you could wave a magic wand, what one
improvement would you make to the town
centre?
It would have to be getting access to the other side
of the train station, so that we can have two
entrances. This would make such a huge differen,
and I am working with Network Rail and local
councillors on a plan to achieve this. I’m confident
we’ll get there.
And using the wand again, what vanished
building, business or other feature would you
bring back tomorrow?
Hawkins of Hitchin for definite. An iconic store that
had been at the heart of Hitchin town centre for
almost 155 years. It was sad and a real shame to
lose Hawkins earlier in the year, and I know a lot of
local people feel the same way. I speak to many
former pupils from Hitchin’s schools and they
always speak fondly of their routine trip to Hawkins
before the start of the school year.
What’s your favourite pub or bar in town?
The Hermitage. James Nye and his team do a
fantastic job, and without exception I always have a
wonderful time.
If you’re meeting someone for a coffee, where
do you get together?
The Hermitage again. Or Coffee Lab on Sun Lane.
You’ve got time for a quick lunch –
where do you go?
Hitchin Café. I love a decent old-fashioned café,
although don’t tell my wife, Hetti, who thinks that
with every bacon sandwich I’m digging an early
grave! Honestly, this is one of the best cafes I’ve
ever know.
You’re taking family, friends or business
colleagues out for a memorable meal –
where do you go?
Los Reyes. We went there recently, and even as a
fussy eater, I absolutely loved it.
You’re asked to recommend overnight
accommodation to someone to needs to stay
the night – where do you point them?
Redcoats Farmhouse Hotel. If you haven’t been
there yet you should go, the new barns are
phenomenal and staying there is a real treat.
Your main grocery shopping is…Waitrose,
Sainsbury’s, Asda, online or out of town?
We tend to end up in Waitrose, but I think it’s so
important to shop locally and support independent
Hitchin businesses, which we try to do as much as
possible.
If you had to recommend a feature of a nearby
town what would it be?
Generally speaking, I love the sheer amount of
greenery in Letchworth, the long rows of trees as
you enter Letchworth on Baldock Road and on the
Broadway set a lovely scene. Architecturally the





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