Ahead of Thursday's General Election, we interviewed all five candidates standing in Watford about their key priorities should they be elected. 

READ MORE: South West Herts candidates prepare for battle​

SEE ALSO: Hertsmere candidates set out key priorities

UKIP's Ian Green - “I think Brexit has given us a great positive upsurge”​

UKIP’s candidate in Watford promises to bring politics back to the people and provide an alternative to Labour or the Conservatives. 

Ian Green has vowed to listen to the concerns of his constituents and act on them should he be chosen to represent Watford following next week’s General Election.

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“As a party, first of all we need to get in and ask what the people want,” he said.

“We need to listen to the people. There are a lot of people disenchanted with politics. People think ‘same old same old’.

“This election is a fantastic opportunity for UKIP. Vote Tory or vote Labour and you get exactly the same thing. The alternative is vote for me and I will listen.”

He said his party would “apply common sense across the board” and act on issues which affect local people by taking a pragmatic approach.  

“There are a lot of pressing issues in Watford, it depends where you are – parking, infrastructure, pollution,” he said.

“Building has to be done to a certain degree and we need to look at how HS2 is going to affect us.

“There is never enough money for education and the NHS. It’s always ‘we want more’. We have to try to look for efficiencies.

“It’s not always about piling the money in. We must use the resources that we have got.”

Dismissing suggestions that UKIP’s job is done now that the wheels are in motion to remove Britain from the EU, Green said it was his party’s duty to make sure the result of the referendum is respected.

“People want this Brexit deal done. If the PM delivers the goods then it will all be history,” he said.

“People were very unhappy with the lack of transparency in the EU. If we have to vote Conservative to get us over the finish line then that’s what we will do.

“We must be brave in certain things. We were the party to bring to the table all of the pros and cons of the EU.

“I think Brexit has given us a great positive upsurge.”

Conservative Richard Harrington - “I’ve been putting in hard work over the last few years"

Conservative candidate for Watford Richard Harrington says he is no “flash in the pan” as he bids to hold on to the seat he has occupied for the last seven years.

Harrington, like Theresa May, campaigned to remain a part of the European Union before last year’s referendum but respects the public’s decision and says he trusts Mrs May to get the best deal possible for the UK.

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Commenting on Mrs May’s admission that she will be a “bloody difficult woman” in Brexit negotiations, he said: “We are going to ask for everything, they are going to ask for nothing and we are going to meet somewhere in the middle.

“I am certain that Theresa May will get the best deal that is available for this country.”

Harrington said, in his opinion, a good Brexit deal was one that remained “as near as possible” to current trading arrangements.

“A Watford company should be able to export to Berlin the same as to Birmingham,” he added. 

“I think we will lose some business to European capitals but the long-term will be different.”

He says it is important to retain close ties with Europe but ruled out the possibility of a second referendum once the terms of Brexit have been set.

Harrington, who was first elected in 2010, says he hopes to continue his work towards the Metropolitan Line Extension and improving Watford General Hospital, with both projects hampered by recent delays.

On the hospital, he said: “They have got a big job on their hands but the new road (Thomas Sawyer Way) has been very good, opening up the health campus and the hospital for redevelopment.”

Work on the Metropolitan Line Extension appears to have ground to a halt thanks to a funding shortfall but Harrington says restarting it would be one of his “top priorities” should he be re-elected next week.

“I’ve fully supported it from the beginning,” he said.

“It will bring in enormous economic benefits. I am sure there will be a compromise and that common sense will prevail.”

Appealing to voters, he added: “I was elected on a five-year programme and I would like the opportunity to continue that programme.

“I’ve been putting in hard work over the last few years. I’m not a flash in the pan.”

The Green Party's Alex Murray - "Richard Harrington is a party man rather than a man who does what’s best for Watford"

Even though the Green Party has a rather slim chance of adding to its one existing MP in this year’s election, their candidate in Watford promises to offer a radical yet realistic alternative to the three main parties.

Alex Murray says he received positive feedback from members of the public following Tuesday’s hustings, which has given him confidence that some voters who feel disenchanted by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats could be persuaded to choose a different option on June 8.

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Naturally the party’s primary focus is protecting the environment but he says its manifesto is more diverse than that.

“Some of our best policies are similar to traditional Labour policies, but we offer something alternative,” he says.

“Even though we aren’t a strong local party, we have policies that could improve the lives of local people.

“Housing is a big issue in Watford. We will look to build 100,000 homes by 2020 which are affordable and carbon neutral, so they’re good for the environment.”

With the NHS in crisis, his party has a unique idea for providing additional funding in a time when money is scarce. 

“We will look to improve Watford General Hospital, and would put in funding straight away by scrapping Trident and putting that money into the NHS,” he says.

Murray praised Richard Harrington’s record in office but argued he could have done more to represent the views of people in his constituency. 

“He’s spoken up for Watford. Some of the things he’s done for Watford are good but he’s a party man rather than a man who does what’s best for Watford. I believe I’m a better person to represent the constituency,” he said.

“If there was a straight choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, it would have to be Corbyn. We’re more closely aligned with Labour – I couldn’t advocate Theresa May as Prime Minister.

“But I urge people to vote for the Greens. The more Green voices we have in Parliament, the better chance we have of getting our positive policies through.”

Labour's Chris Ostrowski - "We are the challengers to the Conservatives, not the Lib Dems"

Labour candidate Chris Ostrowski claims his party are the only true challengers to Richard Harrington’s reign in Watford, dismissing the likelihood of a surprise Liberal Democrats election.

The Conservative candidate secured more than 43 per cent of the vote in 2015, with Labour second on 26 per cent and the Liberal Democrats third with 18 per cent.

“We are the challengers to the Conservatives, not the Lib Dems,” said Ostrowski.

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“They finished a distant third in 2015 – they’re at a similar point in the opinion polls now as they were then.

“We’ve seen injustice and inequality grow since the coalition. Voters can now vote for something which makes the system fairer. We are fighting for every vote.”

If Labour was to secure its first victory in the Watford constituency for 12 years, Ostrowski says he would tackle local issues which mirror those seen on a national scale.

“We want more secure jobs, a ban on zero hour contracts - it doesn’t make business sense,” he said.

“Cuts in the healthcare system mean there is a shortage of frontline staff that was not there before. The hospital (Watford General) clearly needs further investment and we would like to see the Metropolitan Line Extension brought forward.

“We want better funding for the NHS, we want dignity and care for our ever growing and ageing population.”

He said housing inequality was another issue on his hit list which he would deal with should he be elected.

He said: “At 36, I have never owned a property in my life. It’s hard to get into the position with a young family to get a house.”

And taking aim at Harrington’s reluctance to vote against the party line in the House of Commons, Ostrowski said: “Richard Harrington is a very close supporter of the government. You can see that in his voting record. He’s a supporter of a government which has seen growing inequality.

“I think I can do a better job of representing the people of Watford in Parliament.”

Liberal Democrat Ian Stotesbury - "We are the only party standing for a tolerant Britain"

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Watford believes the party could experience a resurgence at the upcoming General Election despite a widespread wipeout two years ago.

Taking over the reins from Dorothy Thornhill, who finished third behind the Conservatives and Labour in the 2015 election, space systems engineer Ian Stotesbury thinks the Liberal Democrats can buck the national trend in Watford by electing a candidate outside of the two main parties.

Appealing to voters, he said: “The momentum is with us and we want to hold the government to account.

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“I would be a strong voice of opposition. We can’t let the national government slip into a one party state.

“We are the only party standing for a tolerant Britain.”

Stotesbury thinks one of the main issues in Watford is the ailing hospital, which currently has a maintenance backlog of around £100 million, although plans are in the pipeline to rejuvenate it.

He also cites government cuts to school funding as a major problem, with many head teachers recently revealing that they may have to let staff go if the crisis continues.

“I am outraged seeing the cuts to schools. We want to extend the pupil premium but you can’t provide these services without a strong economy,” he said, taking a swipe at the last Labour government’s record on the economy.

Turning his attentions to Brexit, Stotesbury admits he remains a Remainer and says he would champion a second referendum to allow the public to decide whether they wanted to accept the terms offered to leave the EU.

“Brexit is the issue of the day. We have to listen to what the electorate is telling us but the Tories have taken the hardest possible stance,” he said.

Stotesbury pointed to Richard Harrington’s record of voting in line with Conservative policy in Parliament, arguing this was evidence he did not have the best interests of his constituents at heart.

“I think Richard votes as a delegate of the party, not for his constituents. What does he stand for?” he asked.

“If I was to be elected as an MP, I would work in closer partnership with my constituents.”