South Suffolk is safe Tory territory in 2019 General Election
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Several general elections ago it looked as if South Suffolk could become an interesting seat as some Liberal Democrats started to think it might eventually be a winnable target.
But a failure to build on promising results during the 1980s and early 1990s means it is now safe Conservative territory with other parties left scrapping for minor places . . . and the chance to retain their deposit.
While the candidates are visiting communities across the constituency, many of their volunteers are visiting nearby marginal seats - especially Ipswich - where there is a really tight battle under way.
Issues in the constituency:
Job losses in Sudbury: One of the largest employers in the largest town in the constituency, Delphi, is set to close next year and in a fresh blow to the town hopes of developing the site for new businesses were dashed when the land was sold to a property development company.
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Finding a way to create new jobs for the 500 people employed there is considered vital for the future of the town over the next few decades.
Housing: Homes in South Suffolk are expensive. It is difficult for young people to get on the housing ladder and there are only limited numbers of affordable homes.
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More homes are due to be built around the south of Ipswich - and there have been reports that some of the Suffolk County Council-owned farmland in the Washbrook and Copdock area could be developed for new homes in the future.
There is also large-scale new development planned across the constituency from Shotley Gate at the extreme east to the west of Sudbury.
Transport: There are real challenges with getting about the constituency, especially for those people without easy access to a car.
Changes to bus services have caused issues for some travellers, especially with the timing of buses from Sudbury to Ipswich. And there are limited public transport links between Hadleigh and the county town.
There is only one railway station in the constituency, at Sudbury, although Manningtree on the main line is only 400 metres outside and is used by significant numbers of residents from the Shotley peninsula and those living south of Ipswich.
Plans for a new by-pass for Sudbury were dropped after Suffolk County Council realised it would not get government support, partly as a result of local opposition to the plan, and this is likely to remain an issue.
Who is standing in South Suffolk?
James Cartlidge: Conservative MP for the constituency since 2015, he is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, having served in a similar capacity to former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Elizabeth Hughes: Labour candidate and Ipswich Borough Councillor. She fought the neighbouring Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat in 2017.
David Beavan: Liberal Democrat councillor. He is a member of East Suffolk council representing Southwold and has been a well-known local politician in that part of the county for many years before stepping in a the last minute to fight South Suffolk.
Robert Lindsay: The Green Party candidate is one of the most familiar political figures in the area and is a member of both Suffolk County Council and Babergh council (since May).
Who will win South Suffolk on December 12?
James Cartlidge had a majority of 17,749 in 2017, winning the votes of more than 60% of those who went to polling stations. You need to have spent a very long night in the pub to imagine there is any result possible here other than a massive Conservative victory.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s there was a very real possibility that the Liberal Democrats could mount a challenge in this seat - but their lack of ambition and inability to follow up on some promising results mean that they have now become also-rans in the constituency whose main aim will be to retain their deposit.
Labour, with a strong vote in the Sudbury area, should retain second place.
And while Robert Lindsay has strong local support in the Lavenham/Bildeston area, people tend to vote differently in local and national elections - and he will struggle to attract those without Green blood coursing through their veins in other parts of the constituency. But don't rule out him retaining his deposit in South Suffolk for the first time.