Clear message from North Norfolk candidates

Ed FossOne message coming loud and clear from the North Norfolk candidates is 'whoever you vote for, make sure you vote for someone'.It is a sign of the apathy and disillusionment many of them continue to be met with on the doorsteps of their potential constituents' homes.Ed Foss

One message coming loud and clear from the North Norfolk candidates is: "Whoever you vote for, make sure you vote for someone."

It is a sign of the apathy and disillusionment many of them continue to be met with on the doorsteps of their potential constituents' homes.

Earlier this week, all candidates came together for the first time to try to convince a packed room in Wells that they deserved the community's votes.

That included last-minute independent Simon Mann, whose late arrival on the campaign trail meant he had to bring his own name card.


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Although only a minority of the town's voting population turned up, the fact that extra chairs had to be brought in to fill every available space in the Maltings showed how keen some were to hear from their wannabe MPs.

Yet, as Labour candidate Phil Harris pointed out, there was a decided absence of young voters in the room - in keeping with the national belief that the country's youth are just not interested in politics.

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Those who did attend ensured the topics discussed covered a range of national and local issues, from "rotten" politicians to Norfolk's flood sirens and affordable housing to public transport.

For the most part, there was very little to tell the candidates apart, with many forced to open their one-minute answers with "I agree with the previous speaker".

All agreed Westminster needed a major clean-up, the affordable housing provision in north Norfolk was woefully inadequate and the area's flood sirens - abandoned by police in favour of the Environment Agency's telephone system - must be saved.

There was the odd squabble - including who was to blame for the county council's decision to use money raised from second-home owners in north Norfolk outside of the district, and who had fought to stop it.

But, up until the end, the only subject that drew any markedly differing opinions was that of climate change when Ukip's Michael Baker broke the trend and disagreed with his fellow candidates, insisting the existence of man-made climate change was "not a foregone conclusion".

Just as the meeting was about to draw to an end, one member of the audience called for a little "controversy" and asked the candidates to explain what cuts they would make to mend the country's economy.

The answers may have been those heard on every television and read in every paper over the last few weeks, but it at least enabled the listeners to at last differentiate between the six candidates in front of them.

As the run-up to May 6 continues, Norman Lamb has the extra burden of being the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman, which, for instance, yesterday took him to London for a three-way party political health debate with Andy Burnham and Andrew Lansley.

Such time away from the constituency creates, in Mr Lamb's own words, an "exhausting, incessant schedule", but anyone betting against him to win North Norfolk by a healthy margin would be a step away from reality.

It is not all heavyweight; there have been lighter moments.

The previously reported instance of Mr Lamb meeting Mr and Mrs Mutton on a constituency doorstep has been followed by a meeting with a Mr Ramm.

And one note to Mr Lamb in relation to his Twitter photographs: why is the massive axe necessary to bang in the Lib Dem poster? Surely a hammer would be better and a little safer.

And is it a sign of taking his eye off the ball that a fair few of Mr Lamb's Facebook updates and Tweets have focused on the fate of Norwich City Football Club? Or is it perhaps more a sign of his twin obsessions of football and politics?

Kieran Isaacson, a North Walsham High School pupil, has organised an open hustings event for fellow pupils, parents and any other members of the community on Tuesday. Conservative Trevor Ivory is expected, although Mr Lamb will be represented by county councillor Paul Morse.

Candidates, or their representatives, will be in the school hall from 7.30pm.

And on Friday, with the same start time, Sheringham Churches Together will host a hustings at St Peter's Church. The four parties who polled the most in North Norfolk at the last election - Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Ukip - have been invited.

LIBERALDEMOCRAT: Norman Lamb.

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