New Conservative candidate chosen for north Norfolk is Ann Steward

Ann Steward

Ann Steward - Credit: Matthew Usher

It was decision time in north Norfolk tonight as the Conservatives chose their parliamentary candidate for next year's general election.

Ann Steward, who is currently a Breckland District councillor and lives in Hilborough near Swaffham, was picked to contest MP Norman Lamb's seat.

Mr Lamb has held the Liberal Democrat strong-hold for the past three elections, meaning the newest Conservative candidate has a tough challenge ahead to unseat the north Norfolk favourite.

But with heavy defeats in the recent European elections, where all but one Lib Dem Euro MP was wiped out, Mrs Steward, who has lived in Norfolk from the age of three, said she is confident of having a chance.

She said: 'There has been some strong messages and I will be talking to all the electorate. It is important that I meet as many people as possible.

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'I have got the time to be out there and we will be working very closely as an association together.'

And despite UKIP's performance in the EU elections, Mrs Steward said she would concentrate on spreading the Conservative's message rather than looking over her shoulder.

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She said: 'I will be out in the streets putting in the leg work and I am here for the long term.'

Rhodri Oliver, who has just been elected chairman of the local party, said the recent elections have pushed the north Norfolk seat wide open.

He said: 'This seat is not for Norman Lamb to hold it is for whoever fights hardest.

'We were looking for someone that knows Norfolk and who can make north Norfolk blue again.'

Mrs Steward will also be up against Denise Burke (Labour) and Michael Baker (UKIP).

Current MP Mr Lamb first won the seat in 2001 with a slim 483 majority, having twice being beaten into second place by the Conservatives.

In 2005 Mr Lamb saw his majority rise to 10,606 when against Tory Iain Dale, when Mr Lamb polled 31,515 votes and Mr Dale 20,909.

The result last time in May 2010 was: Norman Lamb (Lib Dem) 27,554, Trevor Ivory (Con) 15,928, Phil Harris (Lab) 2,896, Michael Baker (UKIP) 2,680, Andrew Boswell (Green) 508, Simon Mann (Ind) 95.

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