Tory North Shropshire by-election candidate on second jobs and key priorities

Ahead of the North Shropshire by-election on December 16, the Shropshire Star has approached all candidates with a series of questions.

Prioritising healthcare – Conservative candidate for the North Shropshire by-election, Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst
Prioritising healthcare – Conservative candidate for the North Shropshire by-election, Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst

We have asked the candidates the same set of questions on topics including second jobs, priorities and national issues.

This time, it is the turn of Conservative candidate, Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst, to answer the questions and tell you what his plans are for North Shropshire.

Will you take any second jobs if you are elected as MP for North Shropshire, and do you believe MPs should be prevented from taking second jobs/consultancy roles?

I will not have a second job – that’s my cast iron commitment. Being the first-class constituency MP that local people deserve will be more than a full-time job – and one I would be completely dedicated to and focused on. I will of course be volunteering to help vital causes – and indeed I have already confirmed I’m ready and willing to help our NHS again in whatever way I can to help patients and people in the fight against Covid.

What is the biggest national issue you see affecting the constituency in the coming years?

Securing major improvements to local healthcare is my top priority – that’s why it is squarely top of the list of my commitments. Having spent most of my professional life as a medic including in our NHS, I can bring that experience to bear on improving things. I will work alongside our local NHS to secure urgent improvements to ambulance waiting times, better access to GP care and to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of Government investment into Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals.

What would you like to achieve in your tenure as MP for North Shropshire?

I’ve set out a clear and ambitious long-term plan to address local issues – and delivering on those commitments is what I am determined to achieve with your support.

Health is of course central to my plan but so is improving the infrastructure to make daily life better – whether that’s greater broadband roll-out, improving the state of our roads, backing road improvements like the Pant-Llanymynech bypass and the dualling of the A5 and restoring mainline rail services to Oswestry. Plus of course championing our small independent businesses, shops and of course farms.

What do you see as the strengths of the constituency?

The strength of each local community. Each of the five market towns and many of the villages are blessed with some amazing local businesses which bring a unique character and vibrancy to them – and they need backing. The environment is of course what is so key to the quality of life here – and our farmers make an immense contribution in ensuring the countryside plays a crucial role in our economy and environment.

Finally, we have some amazing institutions based here which are the Best of British – our Armed Forces and of course our NHS – including the leading Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital which played such an important part in my early NHS training and subsequent time as an Army medic.

What are the biggest problems facing the constituency and what would you say needs to be done to address them?

The biggest challenge is how do we ensure North Shropshire gets the maximum investment and support to address the issues set out in my plan. That includes better healthcare, better transport, broadband rollout, support for our town centres and rural economy. Frankly this is going to need an MP who is best placed to secure the resources and investment we need from Government.

I’m determined to do that and think I am in the position to work positively with Government to get the job done and not just complain from the sidelines. For me this is about knuckling down and getting on with it – not political posturing – with your support I am ready to hit the ground running having already pushed many local issues with Ministers.

Why do you want to be MP for North Shropshire?

I was brought up in a tradition of public service – my Dad served as a GP for 40 years – and I have inherited my values from him. That’s why I chose to serve our country in two of its best institutions – the army and the NHS. I only left the NHS because of a medical condition that stopped me serving as a surgeon.

So I think I can bring genuine real world experience to this job and some professional expertise around health that would help address local issues. I am completely committed to carrying on living in this constituency with my family and serving you as a first-rate local MP – just like John Biffen did in the past.

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