Ian standing in St Neots market square

Key issues in St Neots

  1. GPs and NHS dentists. This is an issue across the constituency, but I know from hundreds of doorstep conversations, my health survey as well as other reported statistics, and just my own experiences from living in the town, that the provision in St Neots is a particular issue. With GPs especially, the national crisis in recruitment and retention is exacerbated by the growth in demand here, and I would challenge the government to prioritise high growth areas for newly qualified GPs and incentives aimed at retention. I would also seek to work with our local practices to address particular issues patients have raised with me in accessing their services.
  2. Economic development and the High Street. There’s obviously excellent work going on with refreshing the outdoor spaces of the Market Square and High Street. But I think that we desperately need reform of business rates to help revitalise our High Street. Moving to a Commercial Landowner Levy, payable by the owner, as well as reforming valuations, I believe would help tackle empty shops and is a key Lib Dem policy. There are other measures that I think could support small independent retail and hospitality in our town, some of which I made sure we got to discuss with some of those existing local businesses when Ed Davey visited at the beginning of March. There is a great sense of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in St Neots, and I would love to see it become an incubator / early adopter for new policy ideas to revitalise what’s in the High Street alongside the great work going on with the physical space.
  3. Secondary Schools and the Astrea Trust. While relieved to see that Longsands Academy achieved an overall “Good” rating in their recent Ofsted report there are clearly still areas where things need to be done better and I am deeply concerned that Astrea’s approach in recent years both at Longsands and Ernulf has created deep divides between school leadership, parents and the wider community in St Neots. Academisation has failed St Neots - its children and its parents - but for the moment it is the school system we have to work with. I believe that the best academy trusts are locally based, placing schools at the heart of the communities they serve, and continue to work closely with local education authorities. I would like to see this again for St Neots schools, but recognise that there is no simple path to achieving that at the present time. Ofsted has long been believed to be unfit for purpose by the Lib Dems and we propose to completely reform the school inspections system. Ofsted should be giving parents confidence that they know a schools strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide support where schools need to improve. Instead the recent Longsands inspection report has served only to undermine Ofsted for many in St Neots. Recognising that any changes in Ofsted are likely to take time, as your next MP one of my top concerns will be holding the Astrea Trust to account with, and on behalf of, parents and young people. Developing the right format / forum to do that will be an important first step. Parents and school leadership must hear and listen to each other, but this must also result in clear actions.


I could talk further about other issues in St Neots, e.g. how to fully realise the benefits of EWR to our area, how to deal with the lack of post 16 education provision in the town, improvements in infrastructure and facilities to name a few. The three above are the ones I am asked about most frequently however, and are clearly the key local issues for many in the town.

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