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Maidstone and Malling Lib Dem general election candidate Dave Naghi launches campaign at Allington Castle

A former mayor and long-standing councillor chose the backdrop of a medieval castle to launch his run to become a town’s next MP.

Dave Naghi will fight the newly-formed constituency of Maidstone and Malling on behalf of the Lib Dems at the next general election, which could be as early as May.

Dave Naghi's PPC launch at Allington Castle
Dave Naghi's PPC launch at Allington Castle

He launched his campaign with a reception for party workers and supporters in the Great Hall at Allington Castle on Saturday.

If elected, Mr Naghi would become the first American-born MP to represent Maidstone.

But first, he has to beat Helen Grant, the Conservative MP who currently represents Maidstone and the Weald.

Cllr Naghi believes his chances of success have been boosted by the revision of the constituency boundaries.

Mrs Grant will lose some of her Weald villages, which have been traditionally Conservative, whereas the new boundary will include some parts of Malling such as Ditton, Larkfield, East Malling and Kings Hill, where Lib Dem support has been strong in the past.

Dave Naghi PPC launch at Allington Castle
Dave Naghi PPC launch at Allington Castle

Mr Naghi told his audience: “After giving over 20 years of public service to Maidstone as a councillor and mayor, I now have the honour to fight for your vote to represent our new constituency, Maidstone and Malling.

“With new boundaries come new opportunities – a chance to restart after Tory neglect for both Maidstone and Malling throughout the 2000s.

“I am a local man who wants to fight for our community to unlock the potential our area has to offer.”

Mr Naghi added: “The chaos of Westminster has alienated constituents and has distracted from the concerns that matter to us.

“Let's bring politics back to our community so we can make Maidstone and Malling work for all of us.”

Dave Naghi PPC launch at Allington Castle
Dave Naghi PPC launch at Allington Castle

Although born in the States, Mr Naghi grew up in Maidstone where he attended, St Francis and Northborough Primary Schools and then Vinters Boys School.

He served a five-year apprenticeship with builders, H Goodsell and Son, before starting his own firm, the Associated Building Company, in 1977, which he still runs.

He has many interests outside politics – he is chairman of the Royal British Legion's Maidstone and District branch; he has a long association with the Howard de Walden Centre in Bluett Street, where he is chairman; he is a past chairman of the Maidstone Sea Cadets and a former trustee of the Cutbush and Corrall Almhouses in Maidstone.

A Stones supporter, he also worked for five years as a steward at the Gallagher Stadium

But he is perhaps best known as the chairman of the annual Maidstone River Festival.

He said: “My goal isn't merely to hold office; I aspire to be a strong advocate for Maidstone and Malling in Parliament, representing our shared concerns.

Football fan Dave Naghi recently met Alessia Russo
Football fan Dave Naghi recently met Alessia Russo

“It is time that our community and the amazing people within it receive the true representation they deserve.”

You can read more about his campaign here.

The only other candidate to have declared so far, beside Mrs Grant, is the Reform UK hopeful Paul Thomas.

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