We sat down for an exclusive interview with Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, to talk about the Conservatives’ record since 2010, being a constituency MP, and the issues that matter to residents.

In this first part, the focus is on his constituency and local issues.

Mr Afolami has represented Hitchin and Harpenden since 2017, but that’s set to change at the next general election when changes to constituency boundaries will take effect.

As it stands, Hitchin will become a new constituency that also includes Arlesey, Shefford and Stotfold while Harpenden will become part of a constituency with Berkhamsted.

Mr Afolami strongly hints that he will stand for the Hitchin constituency if those recommendations proceed.

Moving onto local issues, I ask whether he thinks it’s right to be prioritising his campaign to extend the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“There’s always the argument ‘oh there’s energy bills’ or whatever. To some degree, in politics, like anything in life, it’s not just what’s important, it’s what you can actually do.

“This is something I can do, I’m mobilising huge numbers of people to go and get something big to happen. And if we achieve it, the importance for our area is colossal, because it will make it a lot harder to change the character of the landscape.

“All the people that talk about the importance of maintaining the quality of the countryside, I’m with them. This is the number one thing you can do because it will mean that if in future you want to do some big building on greenfield, it’s not impossible, but the threshold on the nature of it will be a lot higher. I think that’s what people in this area want.

“At the same time, I also very, very strongly believe – for example on Churchgate – that we should be densifying towns.

“We should be having places for people, especially young people, to live in towns – that way, you get the units, but you also protect the countryside.

Our next subject is the over-abstraction of water from the river Ivel’s chalk streams.


Mr Afolami says “it’s a fair point to say that the system of water privatisation, as we have the system, needs improving … we’ve heard the message and we are.

“I’m working with Affinity. I did a big chalk stream get-together about a year ago, with all the local supporters of chalk streams and with Affinity Water, working out how we’re doing that, and we are making improvements, we’re reducing abstraction."

We also talk about North Herts Council’s decision to accommodate homeless people in the former Lord Lister hotel.

“The truth is the council has to make a lot of difficult decisions … I do understand that it’s not an easy situation.

“These people are going to have to be somewhere – I’m not saying that was the right place, but you could argue wherever you put it.

“But the lack of consultation, the lack of engagement with local residents – now that was poor.

“You’ve also got to get the safeguards right. And they haven’t done that, they’ve just left them.

The latest register of members’ interests for the House of Commons shows that Mr Afolami, from January this year, is receiving £2,000 per month for 10 hours work per month for Warre Constable LLP, where he is a partner and part-owner.

He says that this is a “family business”, and “simply codifying what is an existing family arrangement”.

“When there’s a family business, somebody could not necessarily declare anything and still be doing stuff, consulting with your family. When it’s a family business, things are not always that easy.


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“I took the view to be very upfront, because I think it’s very, very important to get those things clear.

“It was really a tidying up process, that’s why we incorporated the LLP in the way that we did.”

He says it won’t impact at all on his ability to serve the people of Hitchin and Harpenden.

“I don’t feel embarrassed about it, I think it’s important that MPs maintain outside experiences and interests. Those things are a strength of our system.”