My paternal grandfather was in the British Indian Army, and my father moved to Britain in the 1970s. I was born in Barking Hospital in 1978 and spent my first few years living above our clothes shop in Forest Gate, East London. We moved into a house in the 1980s firstly in Ilford (East London) and then in Chigwell, Essex where my parents still reside. I am now a proud resident of Tring.
Interesting fact: As the second-born twin, I was an unexpected surprise for my parents! Don’t worry, we’re fraternal twins and do not look alike, so there is no chance of confusion.
After University at Kings College, London, I worked in financial services in London. A few years later, I left to join the family furniture retail business. I know first-hand the pleasures and challenges of running a small business. I inevitably did everything from the managerial to the menial - cleaning the shop floor, selling to customers, ordering from our suppliers and often even fitting furniture. Our business grew and diversified into other interests, including online ventures and property. Since I became engaged in politics full-time though, I have cut ties with my former companies.
I started to get involved in politics in my mid-twenties. I have significant experience in many of the issues our constituency is facing: in Planning, including in my most recent role as Chairman of Planning on my District Council, and Local Government Finance as the Lead Member at the County Council for Finance, Property and Housing. I was first elected in June 2004 as a Parish Councillor and I became a District Councillor in June 2006, winning my seat from the Liberal Democrats. In 2017, I was elected onto the County Council and have been consistently promoted by my leadership ending up as Lead Member for Finance, Housing and Property. The County Council I was proud to be a part of, represented 1.4 million residents and, as Lead for Finance, I managed a gross budget of £2 billion.
At the beginning of my engagement with local politics, attending one two-hour meeting every fortnight, I found my passion and over the a five year period moved into politics full-time. Since being elected MP for South West Hertfordshire I haven't stopped working for my constituents.
In terms of national politics, I stood in the Labour safe seat of North Tyneside as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in 2010. In 2017, I was on the Conservative Parliamentary shortlist to replace Lord Eric Pickles as MP for Brentwood & Ongar in Essex. I came top in the first round but was pipped at the post by my friend Alex Burghart in the second round. Alex is currently PPS to our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. I was hugely grateful to be selected by the Association to fight the 2019 General Election in South West Hertfordshire.
I am passionate about enabling all our children to have a first-rate education; and have thrown myself at helping schools and colleges thrive in my communities. I have been Governor of a well-performing primary school and currently act as Governor of the Anderson National Autistic School in Epping Forest, which have each presented their own unique challenges. However, I am most proud of my work with a local Further Education College which had been put in ‘special measures’ at the time that I got involved, meaning that it had been deemed as falling short of acceptable standards and threatened with closure. I first became a Governor and was rapidly ‘promoted’ to Chairman with an urgent brief to save the College. Within 12 months, we managed to turn the College around and I passed the mantle on to others to continue to build on our success. SEN and education more widely is an important priority of mine.
As someone that sat on my local CCG board and was actively involved in the health system, I have wide-ranging experience in getting resources to the right health bodies at the right time. Suffice to say, I am very invested in ensuring that we get our fair share of any investment that is available to improve our local health offering, and to ensure that it invested in the most productive way.
Value for Money
As a Conservative I believe that MPs and Civil Servants are custodians of public funds and should ensure that every penny paid into the Exchequer is wisely spent. Having managed large budgets and seen the tax system through the eyes of a small business owner I am determined to encourage wealth creation and ensure the taxpayer gets value for money.
Family & hobbies
I have been married to my wife, Pam, a lawyer who works in London, for 13 years. Besides spending time with family and friends, I like watching and playing football and cricket, reading bad fiction and watching bad sci-fi.
I have been a loyal member of the Conservative Party since I first joined in 2003. I have held most roles within my Party structure and was most recently the Chairman of Essex Conservatives, covering 18 constituencies, all of which are currently Conservative-held.
My sole focus now is to represent the constituents of South West Hertfordshire and as a legislator, to scrutinise, support and hold the government to account in the days, months and years to come.