HE HAS been the leader of the borough council – and now Paul Harvey is making a second bid to become Basingstoke’s MP.
Dr Harvey has been selected as the Labour candidate who will challenge incumbent Conservative MP Maria Miller in the 2015 General Election.
Dr Harvey is currently the deputy leader of the borough’s Labour group, a ward councillor for Nordon and also an associate lecturer in social sciences for the Open University at Southampton Solent University.
The prospective parliamentary candidate moved to Basingstoke from Reading 12 years ago and has been a councillor in the town for 11 years.
Dr Harvey was leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in 2005-06, in the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration, and was the cabinet member for employment, skills and learning from 2002-05.
The 39-year-old is delighted to have been chosen by the party as the candidate to face Mrs Miller, and has pledged to open an office in the town centre where members of the public can raise their concerns, if he is elected.
He told The Gazette: “It is a real privilege to be nominated and fight for Basingstoke, and that is what it is about, fighting for the people of Basingstoke.
“I work locally, shop locally and it is my home town. I have put my roots down here and this is the only place I want to represent. It is being that hard-working MP that will make a difference to the borough.”
One of the main aims of Dr Harvey is to interact with young people in the borough.
He said: “I have been working closely with schools and helping young people take part in the democratic process. I will listen, not just talk.
“For them, public transport, and the safety of public transport and access to it, is important. It is great having a leisure park but a lot of young people find it hard to get there.
“The loss of the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) has been huge in the borough and young people are angry because it made such a difference to so many people in Basingstoke.
“They could afford the bus, they could afford the transport and losing that was a barrier. It put up a barrier to education because the EMA opened up opportunities for young people.”
The Labour candidate also hopes to address housing issues in the borough.
He said: “I rent a flat here and understand what it is like and I know what it is like to keep a house with increasing fuel bills.
“What we need to see is the Government and council step up with investment in social housing and that needs to be at a level that people can afford. The reality is that most people in Basingstoke cannot afford the housing.”
Borough Labour leader Laura James told The Gazette: “I think Paul is going to be an excellent candidate – Paul is Mr Basingstoke.”
She added: “We are very lucky to have him and we are looking forward to the campaign.”
Dr Harvey ran against Mrs Miller in 2005, achieving 31.7 per cent of the vote, but lost out to the Conservative candidate, who won the Basingstoke seat with 41.5 per cent of the vote. Mrs Miller, who is also the Culture Secretary in the Coalition Government, retained the Basingstoke seat at the last election, winning 50.5 per cent of the vote with a majority of 13,176.