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'People are really cheesed off' - How Brexit is having an impact on the doorstep for election hopefuls

PUBLISHED: 15:13 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:13 24 April 2019

Members of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

Members of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

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Election hopefuls are facing their toughest time on the doorsteps in recent memory, with frustrations over national politics proving a significant obstacle.

Members of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David HannantMembers of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

With the local elections looming, recent weeks have seen reports of candidates receiving abuse while canvassing and one hopeful in Great Yarmouth - Cathy Cordiner-Achenbach - punched on the trail.

To gauge feeling on the doorstep, the local democracy reporting service joined members of the Labour group on the campaign trail in the Great Yarmouth borough - the county's most Brexit-favouring area.

In the space of around 90 minutes, four candidates - group leader Trevor Wainwright, Brian and Coleeen Walker and Mike Smith-Clare - visited around 100 homes, either speaking to voters or posting leaflets.

And it soon became apparent that frustrations over Westminster were a recurring theme, casting a shadow over the local campaigns.

Members of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David HannantMembers of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

One voter in particular told Mrs Walker she would not be voting in the local election because she was “sick of bloody politics”.

Stuart Hellingsworth, a party member who was assisting in the canvassing, said: “There is a real frustration with people in Westminster that has been having a real impact.

“There are always people that don't engage with politics, but I feel these types of people have been pushed to the next level - those who previously would have just said no, thank you, are now being a lot blunter and we've had the occasional eff off.”

At one point Mr Smith-Clare found himself engaged in heated discussion around another national issue, foreign aid - something also outside of the local agenda.

Members of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David HannantMembers of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

After, he said: “All too often people can take things they see on social media as gospel and allow them to mould their political views. I feel there needs to be better education of which responsibilities lie at a local level and which are dealt with nationally.”

Conservative group leader Graham Plant said he had encountered similar trends on the trail.

He said: “People are feeling really let down by the process in Westminster, which has an impact.

“However, I honestly can't remember there being any local election where there hasn't been something happening in Westminster that has interfered.

Members of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David HannantMembers of the Great Yarmouth Labour group canvassing in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

“Personally, I have not encountered any violence or aggression, but you can tell people are just really cheesed off with politics in general.”

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