Election 2017: Has Norman Lamb done enough to hold on to North Norfolk?
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
Counting for what is expected to be one of the closest contests in the General Election is underway in North Walsham.
Norman Lamb's agent Ed Maxfield revealed he wouldn't be surprised if Conservative candidate James Wild takes the North Norfolk seat off the Liberal Democrats in the parliamentary elections.
However, he admitted he hoped his local record, having served the constituency for the past 16 years, would be enough to see him re-elected.
Mr Lamb is defending a majority of 4000 votes, however UKIP, who polled 8000 votes at the last count in 2015, urged their supporters to back the Tory party this time around.
Mr Maxfield said: 'It has been an election full of surprises right to the end, I'm never surprised by election results because it's always in my view up to the voters.
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'We've worked very hard, we've run on Norman's local record, we hope that's enough. We'll just have to wait and see.'
But he added: 'It's very early days, they've only really just started opening hte ballot boxes, really can't tell right now.'
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Mr Lamb has won the high-profile back of boxing legend Frank Bruno and Queen guitarist Brian May, however, despite making an impassioned plea for help to his supporters, Lib Dem party leader Tim Farron never visited North Norfolk during the campaign.
Mr Maxfield said: 'It's always nice to have celebrities on your side but what really matters is how local people vote.
'We've run very strongly on Norman's record over the last 16 years, ultimately it's for people to decide whether that is more important than the national trend, which hasn't looked so good throughout the campaign, although we wait to see if that turns out as well.
'It's very difficult for the Lib Dems, starting the campaign with only nine MPs, we don't have the resources to throw people around the country visiting seats as the Conservatives have done with so many government ministers.
'Tim's had his priorities around the country and, in terms of North Norfolk, Norman is the VIP for the LibDems, so he has just been working hard and knocking on doors and meeting as many people as he can himself.'
He added: 'We're positive and hoping that his local record sees us through.'
The Conservative campaign has been supported by a series of visits from senior party members.
Tom FitzPatrick, chairman of the North Norfolk Conservative Association, said North Norfolk needed a strong voice in parliament if it is to attract investment.
When asked what happens if Mr Wild doesn't win, Mr FitzPatrick said: 'If he doesn't get in this time around we have en excellent candidate who will get in next time around, and I think what has been shown with senior members coming up is that's the difference having a Conservative part of the large majority party in the Commons - that's the difference it will make.
'Rather than an MP from an opposition party who is campaigning at the edges, we'll have someone who is part of the largest party in government who will be able to fight North Norfolk's corner in a way that hasn't beenfought for the last 16 years.'
Labour candidate Stephen Burke is also contesting the seat. All the votes are now in, with the final boxes arriving from Holt a minute past midnight.
The turnout is up this year - and has been confirmed as 75.48%. That is compared to 71.96% in 2015 and 73.30% in 2010.
The result is expected to be announced around 5am.
Steve Blatch, Acting Returning Officer, said: 'It's gone very well. Most polling stations have been busy throughout the day and polling has reportedly passed off without incident.'
The results from the 2015 election were as follows: Michael Baker (UKIP), 8,328; Denise Burke (Labour), 5043; Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat), 19,299; Michael Macartney-Filgate (Green Party), 1,488; and Ann Steward (Conservative Party), 15,256.
Keep up to date with the latest from counts across Norfolk on Twitter with the hashtag #norfolkvotes