Voters in Hitchin North will go to the polls on Thursday, February 9 to pick their new county councillor - and we've spoken to each of the candidates.

The by-election was called after the sad death of Cllr Judi Billing MBE, who had represented the ward since 2013.

As a mark of respect for Cllr Billing, the Liberal Democrats have opted to stand aside from the contest.

We asked the four candidates why you should vote for them in the by-election, and here's what they said.

Ian Albert - Labour

The Comet: Cllr Ian Albert is standing for the Labour party.Cllr Ian Albert is standing for the Labour party. (Image: Cllr Ian Albert)

"My friend and colleague Judi Billing was a brilliant advocate for Hitchin. If elected, I will continue the work she started. 

"I am local and lived in Hitchin since 1988. I love our town. I am a trusted Labour Councillor for Bearton Ward. I chair Hitchin Committee. I am a School Governor at William Ransom. 

"I will work cross-party to seek funding for an Eastern station entrance for Hitchin.

"Our roads and pavements are a mess. The Conservative County Council have failed us on this. I will press for urgent, more efficient repairs to potholes. 

"For a cleaner, greener Hitchin, we desperately need a new relief road to industrial estate. I will bring together key people to look for solutions and funding.

"I want to extend and improve 20 mph zones across Hitchin North."

Deolinda Eltringham - Green

The Comet: Deolinda Eltringham is standing for the Green party.Deolinda Eltringham is standing for the Green party. (Image: Deolinda Eltringham)

"Deolinda actively campaigns for clean air and is particularly concerned about the number of HGVs going through Hitchin. As a Green Councillor she will work on transition to electric bus services that support the local economy.

"To help decrease the levels of air pollution in Hitchin, Deolinda’s campaign will focus on home to school transport with electric buses for all who need it.

"While a member of her parish council, Deolinda was instrumental in installing solar panels, wall insulation, LED lighting, and other sustainability projects.

"As a Councillor, Deolinda will actively work on improving the energy efficiency of local schools, businesses, and libraries by encouraging retrofitting and effective insulation.

"She intends to expand on the work of the county’s ‘Building Futures’ to provide an individual carbon reduction report for every property in North Herts.

"Deolinda will actively campaign for the improvement of our living environment by supporting local biodiversity and re-wilding schemes.

"Deolinda will promote local energy generation and storage, as well as drive forward a repurposing economy of reuse and recycling."

Ralph Muncer - Conservative

The Comet: Cllr Ralph Muncer (centre) is standing for the Conservatives.Cllr Ralph Muncer (centre) is standing for the Conservatives. (Image: Cllr Ralph Muncer)

"Having previously stood in Hitchin Bearton, it’s great to get out and about speaking with hundreds of residents about their priorities for the upcoming by-election.

"Residents have told me how concerned they are about road safety, particularly speeding and HGVs using residential streets. If elected, I will be working with Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd and local Officers to promote safer streets and communities in Hitchin.

"Our local MP, Bim Afolami, is doing fantastic work to deliver on the priorities of people in Hitchin and I will be working closely with Bim on a number of different projects including opening up eastern Train Station access which improves accessibility and connectivity, as well as delivering better local healthcare.

"While Labour and Lib Dems at North Herts Council are cutting vital waste collections, the Conservatives at County Hall are delivering, ensuring 90 per cent of schools are good or outstanding, investing in public transport and planting a million trees by 2030."

Leigh Smith - Christian Peoples Alliance

The Comet: Leigh Smith is running for the Christian Peoples Alliance.Leigh Smith is running for the Christian Peoples Alliance. (Image: Leigh Smith)

"Leigh is a youth worker and is helping with drug education in schools. She’s also a domestic Violence champion and pastor with her husband of a Hitchin church. She’s been a Street Angel helping people late at night and a Co-opted school governor.

"As someone living and working in Hitchin she’s seen that the roads are clogged up in the morning and how difficult it is to get a GP. Building more houses on the edge of Hitchin is totally wrong.

"The infrastructure has to be in place first. New houses can be built in Stevenage or Milton Keynes where there’s space.

"She also wants access to the station from the Cambridge Road side greatly improved. We can’t have to walk under the railway bridge on a very narrow pavement."

Those in Hitchin North voting in person can attend their polling station between 7am and 10pm on Thursday, February 9. Applications for postal votes have now closed, while the deadline to apply for a proxy vote is Wednesday, February 1.

In the 2021 county council elections, Cllr Judi Billing was comfortably elected for the Labour party in Hitchin North. The vote tallies were as follows:

Judi Billing, Labour - 2,701

John Bishop, Conservatives - 1,366

Sid Cordle, Christian Peoples Alliance - 71

Andrew Ircha, Liberal Democrats - 484

Mary Marshall, Greens - 530