Labour picks prospective parliamentary candidate to stand in the Meon Valley

Dr Gemma McKenna
Dr Gemma McKenna

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LABOUR is hoping to take a seat from the Conservatives by putting forward prospective parliamentary candidate Gemma McKenna.

She was chosen to represent the party in the Meon Valley constituency taking on Tory MP George Hollingbery in the general election.

Ms McKenna said: ‘It’s a huge honour to be selected as Labour’s candidate for the Meon Valley.

‘The area is at the heart of what’s beautiful about the Hampshire countryside and surrounding towns with a thriving independent business sector, excellent farms and a strong community spirit.

‘But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that people are being hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis and are turning to food banks, rural businesses are struggling to pay bills and older people are left isolated due to poor access to transport.’

The 34-year-old, originally from Portsmouth, is no stranger to politics after campaigning to save support services from closure, including disabled workers’ factory Remploy, and Learn Direct centres.

She became a community activist in her early 20s after working with some of Portsmouth’s most deprived youngsters.

She later went on to work for the late former Labour minister Paul Goggins MP before entering the homelessness sector and completing a PhD looking into ways to help homeless people back to work.

Ms McKenna leads policy and research at Fixers, a Hampshire-based young person’s charity and she is also a trustee at the Daybreak Family Group, which supports vulnerable children and adults.

She said she wants to focus on the affordable housing crisis and fight for young people who are stuck in the private rented sector, being forced out of their home areas to find housing.

She will campaign for living wage, freezing business rates and better public transport.

Ms McKenna will go head-to-head with Mr Hollingbery, who won the seat when it was created in 2010 with a 12,125 majority.

Also standing for election in the Meon Valley are Ukip David Alexander, who is the party’s East Hants branch chairman, Lib Dem Chris Carrigan and Green Diana Korchien.