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5 issues that could swing the vote in South West Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 17:12 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:08 11 December 2019

South West Norfolk is fast growing with Thetford alone predicted to expand by at last 5,000 new homes in the next parliament. Picture: Bill Boaden/Geograph

South West Norfolk is fast growing with Thetford alone predicted to expand by at last 5,000 new homes in the next parliament. Picture: Bill Boaden/Geograph

Bill Boaden/Geograph

South West Norfolk remained Conservative with a majority of 18,312 last time around.

Transport links, including the A11 and A134, are an issue as South West Norfolk grows. Picture: David Dixon/GeographTransport links, including the A11 and A134, are an issue as South West Norfolk grows. Picture: David Dixon/Geograph

But will the Brexit Party decision not to contest this seat, along with 316 other Tory-won seats, see Liz Truss increase her margin of victory?

The Conservative candidate, who was appointed International Trade Secretary by Boris Johnson in July and has been a high profile supporter, is contesting the seat against Emily Blake (Lab), Josie Ratcliffe (Lib Dem), Pallavi Devulapalli (Green) and Earl Elvis of Outwell (Monster Raving Loony Party).

The constituency has been held solidly by Conservatives since 1964 but for 20 years before then, it had been ultra-marginal: Labour first held it from 1929-31, and Sidney Dye won it for Labour in 1945 with a majority of just 53.

Having been taken for the Tories in 1964 by Peter Hawkins with a majority of just 123, Gillian Shephard was the prominent MP from 1987 until 2005.

She briefly saw her majority slashed to just 2,434 in 1997, amid the Tony Blair New Labour landslide, though it bounced back to almost 10,000 in 2001.

Liz Truss inherited the seat from Christopher Fraser in 2010 with a majority of 13,140. And having increased her majority in both 2015 and 2017, with an almost 12pc swing in the later, she is clear favourite again this time.

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However there was an almost 10pc swing to Labour last time too, which will give their candidate Emily Blake some hope.

In 2017 the UKIP vote was squeezed, with seemingly both Conservatives and Labour benefitting, but with no UKIP and now no Brexit Party this time what will happen to this remaining block of voters?

The Lib Dems held on to their share of the vote in 2017, but this time out it remains to be seen what impact the added factor of Green candidate will create.

What are the five big issues in South West Norfolk?

- Brexit, but with the constituency having seen EU migration, with strong Polish, Lithuanian and Portugeuse communities, the issues will be personally felt by some.

- The impact of growth. Over the next decade Thetford will see another 5,000 homes built as part of the sustainable urban extension. How will instrastructure cope?

- Lack of GPs and NHS dentists might also come high on many voters' wish-lists.

- Improvements to road and rail are badly needed. The A11 corridor, A134 and A10 are predicted to see significant growth while rail services from Thetford are amongst the region's worst performing.

- Climate change remains the elephant in the room. Will it prove to be a significant factor particularly for younger voters?


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