AS Middlewich prepares to head to the polls on December 12, the Guardian will be interviewing all candidates in Congleton.

Here, Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Duffy explains why he should win your vote.

Tell me a bit about yourself…

I’m 49, I live in Congleton. I work in supply chain, my wife is a primary school headteacher and we’ve got two kids.

I got involved with the Liberal Democrats about three years ago after the referendum. I stood in the local elections, got onto Congleton Town Council in May, and put my hand up when someone asked if I wanted to be MP for the area.

Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove – those were the three reasons I joined the Lib Dems. It was the party that matched my values.

I had always been a floating voter but since 2001, when Charles Kennedy was leader, I voted Lib Dem. I agreed with his stance on the Iraq War and I grew up to have the same values as the Lib Dems.

I felt as if I should stop shouting and throwing beer can at the TV when Question Time was on – I should do something about it instead – and Brexit was the final thing that pushed me into it.

Let’s start with Brexit then. Is the Lib Dem policy the right one?

We have always supported a People’s Vote, we have been in the marches and in the last march before the election was called the Lib Dems were a big part of that.

I think when that switched to ‘stop Brexit’ that was more about giving a clear message that we are the true remain party – we want it more than anyone. If we don’t get a majority we would still support a second referendum.

For me we have got to be realistic – we are not going to be the majority party in Government unless something incredible happens, so let’s get this People’s Vote. People are more receptive to that than to revoking Brexit.

Could that cause further division in society?

If we have the second referendum and everybody votes to leave then we would have to leave – we would put it on the shelf and move on.

I think by having a second referendum people have got more focus than they did. I won’t argue with anyone who wanted to leave, if they say they had all the facts that they wanted to make that decision.

But I don’t see the problem in having a second vote for such a major decision – this is not a small policy we are talking about, it is a huge change of direction for the country.

What is your stance on HS2?

The party policy is to support HS2 as part of Northern Powerhouse transport and infrastructure

But for me personally – because of the local concern, I talk to residents that are affected by it – there is the cost, the environmental damage and the damage to communities as well.

I think on those three things, while the party supports it, but I would want that information clarified to me before I made a decision on whether to support it or not.

I don’t mind challenging the party on these local issues and I have made that absolutely clear. One of the best things about being a Liberal Democrat is you can oppose the party on these things and not worry about being thrown out.

I would gather people together that are for HS2 and against it, and make a decision based on sound knowledge of the local area.

It’s also an issue of infrastructure – could we not get better transport links for Congleton as well?

And you take into account that I would be smashing through fields, but would it mean less people travel by air – and so, would it be a good thing for the environment?

But I am completely sympathetic to the impact it is going to have on local residents, and that would be key.

A key concern has been a rise in congestion across the constituency, particularly with the recent increase in the number of houses…

This is the thing I am most passionate about. I am chairman of the planning committee on Congleton Town Council, and there is a major impact from all these extra houses being built in our towns.

Congleton itself is having more than 3,000 more houses on top of a 10,000-house sized community. It was already jammed before.

I don’t believe that having three-quarters of a link road – which is what it is – is the answer. We deserve better, we need to have a complete review of transport links.

We need buses linked up with the trains, we need better links between our towns, we need a complete root and branch review of public transport.

‘No more housing without proper infrastructure’ is the phrase I’m using. It’s not just roads – it’s doctors, dentists, schools. We get the houses but our infrastructure lags behind five to 10 years.

Residents in all of our towns are saying exactly the same thing on this – they can’t get a doctor’s appointment, they can’t get a dentist.

I don’t believe just building more roads is the answer – if you build more roads you just fill them up more. We need to give people the option of proper public transport.

How would the Lib Dems support the NHS?

Mental health is one of our biggest priorities this time around. We are putting 1p on income tax for health and social care, and what we are saying is we want mental health care to be properly funded and looked at in the same way as physical care.

It’s not just about being treated in hospital, it is about the after care as well.

A&E performance is getting worse and worse – it has to change and I am not sure that the Conservatives can do it. They have taken us to this point, they are the problem, and we need a solution.

Yes the Lib Dems would ask for more money, and I think people don’t mind paying a bit more in tax when they know it is going to be ringfenced for the NHS and social care.

Residents are also concerned about Congleton War Memorial Hospital…

This is a very specific problem in that they keep taking nurses away from Congleton and sending them to Macclesfield, but that is a problem with A&E up there.

My fear for Congleton War Memorial is that they are not staffing it properly – it is only a 9am to 5pm service, that’s crazy. If you trip downstairs at 6pm you can’t go.

The Conservatives have had nine years and have got us into that situation.

I think the decision to take away the nursing bursary has really affected the NHS. How many people can we get to fill the vacancies?

School funding is a key issue in Cheshire – what would the Lib Dems do to support education?

It is one of the most important policies coming from the Lib Dem manifesto. We would put £10 billion into schools.

For me personally it is a massive priority. My wife is a primary headteacher in Cheshire and I have seen first-hand what has gone on.

It’s not just the letters asking for £30 from parents, it’s the impact on staff as well. In Stockport a school has been forced to close early on Fridays – how on earth have we ended up in that situation?

What are working parents supposed to do? How are you meant to pick up your kids at that time?

When New Labour were in power the message was ‘education, education, education’ and that was the right thing to do – but after nine years of the Conservatives we have had ‘cut, cut, cut’.

Headteachers across the borough have cut everything they can. They have to go cap in hand asking for money for books – or staff on a Friday. It is not how it should be.

Where do you stand on the badger cull as a means to control Bovine TB?

I would support a vaccination programme across the board, and not the cull. But they did not give that a proper chance to see if vaccinations would work, and they really should have.

I think culling is just too easy an option and the statistics suggest that it is not working. I know it is an emotive subject but I just don’t believe it is the right thing to do.

A major issue earlier in the year was fox hunting – do you think the laws need tightening?

I actually spoke to the police on this recently and they were describing some of the loopholes that get used – of course that’s what people do. I think we need to look at closing those loopholes.

There are quite a lot of people that see the tradition as important and I would not want to take that away from them – but obviously we all have to obey the law.

We also need to resource the police properly. They don’t have enough resources to do everything they need to. 

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson seems to have spent much of this campaign apologising for the party’s role in the coalition from 2010 to 2015. Are you finding it difficult to move on?

There is still a deep feeling about it. It’s a difficult one – we thought we had turned a corner back in the EU election but there is no doubt we are still hearing the same arguments on the doorstep.

Jo Swinson said the other day that we got things wrong. I would go further and say we got things completely wrong. Hindsight is a great thing, you can learn from it and hopefully never do it again.

I can’t see us getting in a coalition again for a long time. Jo Swinson now seems to be carrying the whole coalition weight on her shoulders – but those were Conservative cuts.

The tuition fee increase was Conservative policy – 21 Lib Dems voted against it, but it is always our party associated with it.

The anger seems to be directed at the Lib Dems but never really at the Conservatives – I find that a confusing message, particularly from Labour supporters.

Finally, you have a day off – no work or campaigning to do. How would you spend your ideal day in Cheshire?

Jodrell Bank for me – absolutely. I have been there so many times but I would go back again – I’m a big science geek.