High hopes for a good turnout

Kim BriscoeMillions of voters are going to the polls in the most tightly-contested General Election in a generation.Kim Briscoe

Millions of voters are going to the polls in the most tightly-contested General Election in a generation.

Polling stations around the country opened at 7am and will close at 10pm - with the first results nationwide expected before midnight.

Candidates and voters in Norfolk are reporting queues at some polling stations, leading to high hopes for a good turnout.

Norwich North Conservative candidate Chloe Smith said in Hellesdon, Norwich, in particular there were queues of people waiting to cast their vote.

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She said: "This is really good news and it shows people are very keen for change."

Liberal Democrat candidate David Stephen is also reporting a brisk turnout in Hellesdon, but said many people were leaving it up until the last minute to decide how to cast their vote.

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He said: "Canvassing up to yesterday was showing a lot of undecided voters who were inclined to us.

"Undecided from yesterday was a good 20pc, but also there were some good definites for us."

Turnout in North West Norfolk and South West Norfolk has surged today.

Ray Harding, returning officer for both constituencies, said: 'There seems to be a steady flow of voters at all polling stations in both the North West and South West Norfolk constituencies.

"Early indications are that turnout is considerably higher than for last year's European elections and is likely to be higher than for the previous general election. The return rate for postal votes alone is around 80% and rising.'

In the Broadland constituency, Lib Dem candidate Dan Roper reported that at Lingwood, where there is an electorate of around 2,000, as of around 11am there had already been 300 voters, plus 300 postal votes. This represented a 30pc turnout when there was 11 hours of polling left.

'I think we're on course for a higher turnout this time than last, and we have seen a lot of young people voting which is a very good thing.'

Out in the Great Yarmouth area, voting was said to be quite brisk at Caister polling station this morning and there was a steady stream of voters at the Cobholm Community Centre.

Labour borough councillor Penny Linden was there and said the turnout was up on the last general election.

Mid Norfolk is heading for a very high turnout - but the voting levels from 1992 will take some beating.

Under the old boundaries, 77.2pc of the electorate turned out 18 years ago when Richard Ryder stormed in.

Five years later, when Keith Simpson was first elected, it was slightly down at 76.3pc. That was reduced to 70pc in 2001 and then five years ago it was down to 67pc.

More than 750 people voted before 12.30pm at the London Road youth centre in Dereham. Some were waiting at 6.50am to get in and staff said they did not stop all morning.

People were queuing at the polling station at Dereham Cricket Club at 6.40am - 20 minutes before it opened.

At the Pine Close Community Centre on the Barnham Cross Estate in Thetford, there are 1,500 people registered to vote. At midday, 360 of those had turned out.

Similarly, at the Meet Up Caf� on the Redcastle Furze Community Centre there were 250 out of a possible 1,600 and 300 of a possible 1,500 at the Abbey Estate Community Centre.

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