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Voters of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich have major issues in 2019 General Election

PUBLISHED: 16:30 19 November 2019

Proposals for a northern bypass have dominated politics in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.  Picture: Neil Didsbury

Proposals for a northern bypass have dominated politics in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Central Suffolk and North Ipswich has long been called a strange mixture of a constituency 60% of its population is effectively in the county town while 40% is in a very rural area.

Dr Dan Poulter has been MP for the constituency since 2010.  Picture: NEIL PERRYDr Dan Poulter has been MP for the constituency since 2010. Picture: NEIL PERRY

But the simple fact is that along with four other seats in the county this is rock-solid Conservative territory and there is no real prospect of any electoral contest in the general election. The main question is whether Dr Dan Poulter's majority will be nearer 15,000 or 20,000!

But there are election issues in the constituency that are exercising voters - and while the piles of leaflets might not be as high as they are in the Ipswich constituency itself, there is a campaign of sorts going on.

So what are the key issues facing voters here?

The proposed Ipswich Northern Route (aka the northern bypass):

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Labour candidate Emma Bonner-Morgan. Picture: LABOUR PARTYCentral Suffolk and North Ipswich Labour candidate Emma Bonner-Morgan. Picture: LABOUR PARTY

This is a hugely controversial proposal that worries thousands of people living in the towns and villages to the north of Ipswich who would be affected if it were built.

No one knows the likely cost - it's been estimated at somewhere between £500m and £1bn although some estimates are higher.

And its cost would almost certainly have to be met by building more homes. Again the estimates vary between 10,000 and 50,000 (Ipswich has 55,000 homes in it).

Defending Conservative Dr Dan Poulter has been one of the leaders of the campaign against the road - and parish and town councils in his seat are universally against it.

James Sandbach is hoping to win the seat for the Liberal Democrats. Picture: SIMON PARKERJames Sandbach is hoping to win the seat for the Liberal Democrats. Picture: SIMON PARKER

However Ipswich borough council supports the new road - as do many of his supporters living in the town (although there also some people in the town opposed to the new road).

Rural isolation:

Although there is a perception of prosperity in many rural villages, there are issues with a lack of services - and threats to some which do remain.

Changes to Hartismere Hospital at Eye have caused concern - and there seems to be a constant threat to some rural bus services which cannot operate without a county council subsidy.

Dan Pratt, Green Party candidate in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Picture: GREEN PARTYDan Pratt, Green Party candidate in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Picture: GREEN PARTY

Poor broadband speeds and patchy mobile phone coverage also cause problems in some rural parts of the constituency.

And services need to be maintained in towns like Framlingham, Eye and Debenham to ensure that the don't just become attractive places for the wealthy to live.

North west Ipswich:

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The constituency includes three wards in north west Ipswich, Castle Hill, Whitton and Whitehouse, which have sometimes felt semi-detached from the rest of the town which is the urban constituency.

The recent re-development of the Anglia Retail Park on Bury Road, the new homes for rent being built on the former bakery site on Old Norwich Road, and the proposed new "super surgery" for doctors have all given the area a boost.

But there is a need to ensure this part of town does continue to get the representation it feels it needs.

Kesgrave/Rushmere:

Communities that like to claim their own identity, but are in effect part of Greater Ipswich, they have their own challenges which an MP needs to address.

There are issues with access to the town centre, although people living there have increasingly been looking at other retail centres like Martlesham and Warren Heath/Ransomes on the edge of Ipswich.

Who's standing in the constituency?

Dr Dan Poulter - Conservative MP for the seat since 2010. A part-time hospital doctor and former health minister who has taken a keen interest in medical issues in the House of Commons.

Emma Bonner-Morgan - Labour hopeful. A musician and teacher, she was her party's candidate in a county council by-election last year.

James Sandbach - Liberal Democrat candidate. Stood in Suffolk Coastal in 2017. He is a town councillor in Saxmundham and chair of the Liberal Democrats Lawyers Association.

Dan Pratt - Green party candidate. He was elected to Mid Suffolk council earlier this year. He is a teacher and a coastal ecologist.

What's likely to happen on December 12?

Like most other seats in Suffolk, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is safe Conservative territory - it would be a major surprise if the Tory majority fell below five figures in this election.

Labour has usually come second here. Of the three Ipswich council wards two have almost always returned Labour councillors and that gives the party a foundation of several thousand votes.

The seat, in its current form, was created in the run-up to the 1997 general election and since then the only time Labour has not come second was in 2010 when they were beaten by the Liberal Democrats.

In 2017 both the Liberal Democrats and Greens lost their deposit in this seat and both are standing again this time. The seat is not considered fertile-enough territory for either to consider an electoral pact.

However the national improvement in the LibDems' fortunes will give them some hope of overtaking Labour for the second-place spot and it would be a major surprise if they lost their deposit.

And possibly both they and the Greens could benefit from a "sympathy vote" from those who know their vote really won't make much difference to the overall result here but want to make a point in the election.

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