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A look at the political landscape in Mid Norfolk and the candidates looking for your votes

PUBLISHED: 18:06 26 May 2017 | UPDATED: 18:06 26 May 2017

Dereham, in the heart of Norfolk, is one of the towns in the Mid Norfolk constituency. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham, in the heart of Norfolk, is one of the towns in the Mid Norfolk constituency. Picture: Ian Burt

Drive around Norwich and you will see signs of varying colours in gardens and windows.

Consitutency Map of Mid Norfolk. Graphic: Robert McVicar. Consitutency Map of Mid Norfolk. Graphic: Robert McVicar.

In Mid Norfolk, there is less evidence of election fever taking hold.

The constituency is traditionally a safe Conservative seat and the recent county council election results, where the party asserted total dominance of the area, would suggest little will change that.

Even in the Tony Blair years there was a Conservative MP representing the market towns and villages of Mid Norfolk.

Conservative candidate George Freeman held his seat in 2015 by a majority of 17,276, securing more than half of the votes cast.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman at the county council election count in Dereham. Picture: ADAM LAZZARI Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman at the county council election count in Dereham. Picture: ADAM LAZZARI

He had a 13,856 majority in 2010.

Perhaps so confident of victory, Mr Freeman recently left his constituency to lead a group of Conservatives in support of the party’s North Norfolk candidate James Wild in Holt.

Mr Freeman’s supporters would react to claims of complacency by highlighting how held a summit in Dereham, in March, where business and community leaders discussed a vision for the town’s future.

Fresh faces have been put forward by opposition parties to challenge Conservative dominance in Mid Norfolk, with Sarah Simpson representing Labour, Fionna Tod, the Liberal Democrats, Hannah Lester, the Greens, and, unlike in other areas, a UKIP candidate has been put forward in Tracy Knowles.

Fionna Tod, who is standing for the Lib Dems in Mod Norfolk. Picture: Submitted by Fionna Tod. Fionna Tod, who is standing for the Lib Dems in Mod Norfolk. Picture: Submitted by Fionna Tod.

The party will look at how, in the EU referendum, 64pc of people in Breckland voted to leave the EU, almost 10pc higher than the region as a whole and 12pc more than the country.

Mid Norfolk is one of the region’s more recently-created constituencies, having been formed in its current guise in 1983.

It lies in the heart of the county and stretches all the way from the Weasenhams in the north to the Buckenhams in the south.

It includes the varied market towns of Dereham, Attleborough, Watton, Wymondham and Hingham.

Hannah Lester, who is standing for the Greens in Mid Norfolk. Picture: Submitted by Hannah Lester. Hannah Lester, who is standing for the Greens in Mid Norfolk. Picture: Submitted by Hannah Lester.

Residents of these towns share common concerns over a perceived lack of infrastructure to support rapid housing growth.

With a number of high street businesses shutting their doors in recent times, there are worries these areas are growing into commuter towns, without growth of business and industry in rural Mid Norfolk.

The candidates standing in Mid Norfolk

Sarah Simpson, the Labaour candidate for Mid Norfolk in the General Election 2017. Sarah Simpson, the Labaour candidate for Mid Norfolk in the General Election 2017.

George Freeman (Conservative);

First elected to Parliament in 2010 as MP for Mid Norfolk.

Was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences between 2014 and 2016.

Sarah Simpson (Labour);

Tracy Knowles, who is standing for UKIP in Mid Norfolk. Picture: Submitted by Tracy Knowles. Tracy Knowles, who is standing for UKIP in Mid Norfolk. Picture: Submitted by Tracy Knowles.

Studied at UEA in the 1990s. Now operations director of an engineering consultancy based in Norwich.

Fionna Tod (Liberal Democrat);

Worked to support tourism in deprived areas of Mexico and was a field organiser in Denver, Colorado supporting Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Since 2015 she has worked as a policy adviser, now specialising in Foreign Affairs and Brexit.

Hannah Lester (Green);

A 22-year-old law student training to be a solicitor.

Brought up in Dereham and attended the local schools and college.

Tracy Knowles (UKIP);

Studied chemistry prior to a career in industrial manufacturing management both in the UK and overseas.

Recently returned to live in Norfolk and states that she cares about British values and our British way of life.

A chance to quiz the candidates

Mid Norfolk residents will have the chance to quiz candidates for the seat in the lead up to the June 8 general election.

The Greens’ Hannah Lester, Labour’s Sarah Simpson and the Liberal Democrat’s Fionna Tod have so far confirmed for a hustings planned for Attleborough’s St Mary’s Church on Saturday, June 3 at 7.30pm.

Each candidate will introduce themselves and any policies of their party that they wish to highlight.

Afterwards, questions will be taken from the audience on any topic or matter of interest, and each candidate will have the chance to answer. The candidates are running against UKIP’s Tracy Knowles and the incumbent, George Freeman from the Conservatives, who said he could not attend due to prior commitments.

Attendance is free, and tickets are available from the parish office in the Church Hall on Church Street, Monday to Friday 10am to midday, or by calling 01953 454977.

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