5 issues that will shape Mid Norfolk vote
PUBLISHED: 11:58 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:01 03 December 2019
Mid Norfolk is seen as a Conservative safe seat having been held by the Tories since it was re-established as a constituency ahead of the 1983 general election.
For 14 years, the heartland of Nelson's County was under the stewardship of Richard Ryder, who served as chief whip in John Major's government between 1990 and 1995.
In 1997 he was succeeded by fellow Tory stalwart Keith Simpson but parliamentary boundary changes prior to the 2010 election saw Mr Simpson selected to instead stand for the newly-created Broadland seat.
That paved the way for George Freeman to stand in Mid Norfolk and voters were evidently impressed, handing him the biggest Conservative majority in the constituency since 1992.
At the last election in 2017, Mr Freeman came out on top for the third successive time (32,828 votes) with a majority of 16,086 as 70pc of voters went to the polls.
The Labour candidate Sarah Simpson was second with 16,742 votes
The big issues
- Brexit: Mr Freeman - who campaigned to Remain in the EU - is now backing the new deal while Liberal Democrat candidate Steffan Aquarone is at the other end of the scale in keeping with party lines.
- The NHS: Fast becoming an election priority and it seems voters in Mid Norfolk feel the same. A lack of funding was demonstrated last month as Dereham grandmother Betty Battelley and 130 others had private referrals cancelled, with NNUH explaining it has already exceeded its private spending budget for the year.
- A47 improvements: Traffic problems and accident blackspots have plagued constituents for years and Mr Freeman has said "enough is enough".
- Public transport: The fight for improved disabled access is familiar for train passengers across the region, especially those using Wymondham station. Greater Anglia has finally submitted a bid for funding.
- The high street: A pertinent issue in towns including Dereham, Watton and Attleborough. Empty shops, a lack of variety and inability to attract big-name retailers are a major concern.
The list of candidates:
- Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dems)
- George Freeman (Con)
- Adrian Heald (Lab)
- P J O'Gorman (Independent)