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Meet the pair hoping to be Waveney's next Labour MP - who will take on Peter Aldous at next election?

PUBLISHED: 13:59 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:59 11 September 2019

Louise Gooch and Sonia Barker have been shortlisted in the contest to be Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney. Picture: NEIL COLEBY/CONOR MATCHETT

Louise Gooch and Sonia Barker have been shortlisted in the contest to be Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney. Picture: NEIL COLEBY/CONOR MATCHETT

NEIL COLEBY/CONOR MATCHETT

The battle for who will represent Waveney at the next general election is set to intensify, as Labour decides who will be its candidate for the vote.

Members of Jeremy Corbyn's party in areas such as Lowestoft, Beccles, Oulton Broad and Bungay will choose between experienced local councillors Sonia Barker and Louise Gooch when they meet at a hustings on Friday, September 13.

While the date will unfortunately prove to be unlucky for one candidate, one will be given the task of taking on Conservative Peter Aldous whenever the next general election is called.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which sets general election dates every five years, that is not due to happen until 2022 - but with prime minister Boris Johnson urging opponents to agree to an earlier vote to sort out the Brexit crisis, the date of the poll is anyone's guess.

Mrs Gooch is currently a Labour councillor in the Kirkley and Pakefield ward at East Suffolk Council, also serving for many years before the authority merged with Suffolk Coastal in 2019.

She also sits on East Suffolk Council's scrutiny committee.

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Mrs Barker was a councillor for the Pakefield ward for seven years.

She was also former leader of the Labour opposition group on Waveney District Council and was the parliamentary candidate at the last general election in 2017.

If Mr Johnson does get his way with an early election, the winner might not have much time to campaign to overturn Mr Aldous' 9,215 majority.

The constituency has traditionally been considered a bellwether seat, with Labour and the Conservatives often trading places in some close results.

Its last Labour representative was Bob Blizzard, who represented Waveney in Westminster for 13 years between 1997 and 2010.

However it is unknown what effect the recently formed Brexit Party will have, with Robert Rowland standing for Nigel Farage's party in Waveney next time around.

The hustings, which is for Waveney Labour members only, takes place at the Hotel Victoria in Kirkley on Friday evening.

The winner is due to be announced after the result is declared.

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