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Politics arrives on the high street as parties bring 2019 General Election to Woodbridge

PUBLISHED: 15:01 09 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:01 09 November 2019

Therese Coffey launched her re-election campaign in Woodbridge. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Therese Coffey launched her re-election campaign in Woodbridge. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Over the last few decades Woodbridge has never been a hotbed of political tension - but shoppers and visitors to the town on Saturday morning would have struggled to ignore the fact that there's a general election on the way.

Cameron Matthews with supporters in Woodbridge at the start of his election campaign. Picture: PAUL GEATERCameron Matthews with supporters in Woodbridge at the start of his election campaign. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Both Conservative Therese Coffey - defending a 16,000 majority - and Labour's Cameron Matthews (who stood against Dr Coffey in 2017) launched their campaigns about 100 metres apart in the town's Thoroughfare.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat Jules Ewart was in the town during the afternoon for her formal adoption to fight the seat.

Dr Coffey, who was recently promoted to the Cabinet by Boris Johnson as Work and Pensions Secretary, said she was hoping to continue campaigning across the constituency - but as a minister she would have to spend some time in London and visiting other seats to support other Conservative candidates.

She said there were a variety of issues that constituents were concerned about in the run-up to the election - in the middle and north there were concerns about the impact of the power industry and facilities to bring offshore power into the National Grid.

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In the Felixstowe area there had been concerns about the town's academy - but that now seemed to be improving under new management.

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"And there are concerns about the ambulance service, particularly in the rural areas. It has had new money, but there still appear to be issues with its management," she said.

Mr Matthews was pleased at the reaction he had been getting around the constituency.

He said: "I'm from Felixstowe. I've known the area all my life and I want to be able to represent my home area."

People he had met were very concerned about environmental issues and how they were likely to affect them going into the future.

He said: "I am very much looking forward to be able to talk about these concerns once the Labour manifesto with its emphasis on building a new greener economy is published."

Labour came second to the Conservatives in Suffolk Coastal in the last two General Elections, but in 2010 and in elections in the 1980s the Liberal Democrats and their predecessors took second place - and Ms Ewart is hoping for a change in her party's fortunes.

They will not, however, be able to rely on support from the Green Party which is fielding its own candidate, East Suffolk councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte.

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