Cheney Payne - Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have officially selected Cllr Cheney Payne, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cambridge City Council, as the Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge.

Cheney has lived in Cambridge for 15 years, first coming here to study Theology and then complete a PGCE at Cambridge University. Cheney now works as an Assistant Principal at a Secondary School in St Neots and lives in King’s Hedges with her husband.

Cheney was first elected to the represent Castle Ward on the City Council in 2018 and was re-elected in 2021. As a councillor, Cheney has stood up for her local community and campaigned on issues such as improving and protecting local bus services, preventing drink spiking in local pubs and bars and tackling dangerous and anti-social driving.

She was enthusiastically selected by local party members to fight the Cambridge constituency at the next general election – the second closest Labour facing target seat for the Liberal Democrats in the country. The seat was held by the Liberal Democrats between 2005 and 2015 by David Howarth and then Julian Huppert.

Cheney said: "It is an absolute honour to be selected as your Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge at the next General Election.  Cambridge has a strong legacy of Liberal Democrat MPs in Julian Huppert and David Howarth, and I am excited to begin the journey towards winning back Cambridge for the Lib Dems." 

"Against the backdrop of rising inflation, cuts to public services and the climate crisis, it is clear that we need Liberal Democrats in Parliament.  We are the only party with such a strong record of action on climate change, who are committed to restoring our close relationship with the EU and reforming the UK.  After the political turmoil of the last few months, it is clear that the public want an alternative.  I am 100% committed to showing the people of Cambridge that the Liberal Democrats offer exactly that."

About Cheney

Cheney Payne is the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cambridge City Council.

A long-term connection to Cambridge

I grew up in a tiny village in Derbyshire, where I loved serving my local community, both as a Brownie leader and a member of St John's Ambulance. Thanks to the support of inspiring teachers I won a place to study Theology at the University of Cambridge (at Murray Edwards College) in 2007, becoming the first person in my family to go to university. I fell in love with the city and stayed here after graduation to complete my PGCE and to teach. With my now-husband, we experienced first-hand the Cambridge rental market, living in Arbury, Newnham and East Chesterton, before finally buying our first home in King's Hedges, where we still live with our two unruly cats. In addition to teaching, I am also a City Councillor, and Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems on Cambridge City Council. In my spare time I am keen reader, amateur gardener and organist for local churches.

A career in education in Cambridge

As I approached the end of my Theology degree, it became increasingly clear that I wanted to make a difference through teaching.  Unfortunately, when I graduated in 2010, the Conservative government had already axed all financial support for PGCE students training to be Religious Studies teachers.  In order to save money and also gain some experience in schools, I moved into a tiny flat above the Isaac Newton pub with a university friend, and spent a year cycling all over Cambridge to work with students with Special Educational Needs, in their schools and homes.  This was a real eye-opener for so many reasons.  Firstly it highlighted how limited funding for SEND provision is, especially for students who are over 18.  Secondly, it showed me just how much good community facilities matter for the parents and carers of students with special needs.  Finally, it allowed me to experience the challenges of being self-employed, and just how vulnerable this makes you.

I started my PGCE at the Cambridge University Education Faculty in 2011 and took up my first teaching post a year later.  Since then I’ve held a variety of roles, and have recently taken up a post as Assistant Principal at a school in St Neots.  

First steps in local politics

I have always been interested in politics, but never really imagined myself becoming involved until the Chesterton Lib Dems came knocking on my door!  

By then, I was starting to feel that working as a teacher wasn’t enough.  Schools are microcosms of society, and I was seeing inequality up close and in person.  Every day felt like a battle to stick square pegs in round holes, with Michael Gove’s curriculum reforms forcing students out of vocational pathways, and grinding away the joy of learning.  Schools have been forced to become exam factories, and poorly maintained ones at that.

Cambridge Lib Dems offered the chance to do something more, and when knocking on doors for the first time I was immediately inspired by just how much difference active local government makes. 

Why I am standing to be the MP for Cambridge

Seeing the decisions of the Labour Council up close, I believe fervently that we must keep a liberal voice in Cambridge.  When I'm out knocking on doors, people often talk to me about how dissatisfied they are with the deal they believe Labour gives them.  Residents are concerned about the levels of traffic and pollution, worsened by our appalling public transport system.  They feel the heritage and uniqueness of our beautiful city is being destroyed in favour of council vanity projects, and that we are increasingly micro-managed by a Council who wants complete control. Nationally, under Keir Starmer's leadership the Labour party have rejected any possibility of re-joining the European Union, and of electoral reform: two decisions which drastically weaken our possibilities as a nation and as a democracy.  

Cambridge is a beautiful, special city, that for many is a symbol of promise and opportunity.  It should be a city where local businesses can set up and serve their communities; a city which embraces technology and innovation, and which is welcoming and generous to all.  I believe that we need a liberal voice in Cambridge to champion these values.

 

Cheney's Blog

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