Colchester could be one of the closely fought seats in Essex at the general election.

East Anglian Daily Times: The General Election takes place on June 8The General Election takes place on June 8

A Liberal Democrat seat for many years under Sir Bob Russell, the Conservatives stole the constituency in 2015 with Will Quince – and the two are squaring up again at the polls.

Added into the mix is Labour candidate Tim Young, who is hoping his party’s rising performance in the polls and strong showing in the recent county council elections in the town may be enough to make a difference on June 8.

However, it may be that any Tory opposition that exists is split in the town – paving the way for Mr Quince to safely, though not necessarily comfortably, hold onto his seat.

A recent YouGov poll suggested the seat would be held by the Conservatives.

East Anglian Daily Times: Will Quince. Picture: SU ANDERSONWill Quince. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Mr Quince said: “What a difference two years can make: £1million for Colchester General Hospital to improve our A&E unit; £40m raised through VAT on sanitary products now going to women’s charities; £2m for the restoration and maintenance of war graves, including here in Colchester; a government pledge to introduce statutory bereavement leave.

“If re-elected, I will continue to fight for our fair share of infrastructure investment, more money for our hospital, and for more action on anti-social behaviour and knife crime.

“Colchester’s voice is finally being heard at the heart of government and it is making a difference.”

Sir Bob, who has stepped down from his role as High Steward of Colchester for the campaign, said he wants to focus on issues other than Brexit.

East Anglian Daily Times: Sir Bob Russell. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGESir Bob Russell. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

“There is more to this election than just Britain leaving the European Union. It is also about under-funding of the NHS – Colchester Hospital has a deficit of £21m, cuts to education, fewer police and a threat to pensions; four of several other subjects which I will not be distracted from.

“The town of Colchester voted 50:50 in the EU referendum, so my plea is not just to the 50% who wanted to remain, but also to the other 50% who will include many who fear that a ‘hard Brexit’ will be damaging to our country.”

Mr Young says he has produced a five-point plan for Colchester.

This includes improving health services by hosting a health summit and prioritising mental health, and “fair” funding for Colchester’s schools and providing free primary school meals.

East Anglian Daily Times: Tim Young. Picture: SU ANDERSONTim Young. Picture: SU ANDERSON

He also hopes to recruit more police officers on the streets, build more homes including council houses, and introduce “radical solutions” to address traffic and congestion.

He added: “I would be a passionate advocate for Colchester holding regular advice surgeries as I think it is vital for a local MP to be accessible, available and accountable.”

The Green Party has put forward Mark Goacher as its candidate, who is campaigning against over-development around Colchester.

He said: “The Green Party has big, bold ideas to create a fairer Britain and to protect our environment.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mark Goacher. Picture: PHIL MORLEYMark Goacher. Picture: PHIL MORLEY (Image: Archant)

“Our manifesto policies include an Environmental Protection Act to protect our countryside, a ban on fracking, strong protection for the green belt and the repeal of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which skews the planning system in favour of developers.

“We will give people a referendum on the final Brexit deal and roll back privatisation of the NHS with an NHS Reinstatement Act. We will abolish all university tuition fees.

“Locally I will campaign against over-development around Colchester and also for a statute to guarantee all ex-service personnel and young people under-25 a home by law.”

Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) has also entered in this election, and is represented by Robin Rennie.

East Anglian Daily Times: Robin Rennie. Picture: Robin RennieRobin Rennie. Picture: Robin Rennie (Image: Archant)

He said: “The CPA has true Christian values.

“As a public governor at Colchester Hospital, I am proud of the professional performance of all of our staff and am confident that the next Care Quality Commission inspection will see us lifted out of special measures.

“But we still need to have more money into our Health and Social Care budgets to take account both of insufficient funding to date and needing to recognise the increasingly challenging needs of our communities.

“We also need a rapid increase in school budgets. We work in partnership with churches to support to support food banks and address the needs of the poor.”

Colchester candidates:

Mark Goacher (G); Will Quince (C); Robin Rennie (CPA); Sir Bob Russell (LD); Tim Young (L)

Colchester results (2015):

Will Quince (C) 18,919

Sir Bob Russell (LD) 13,344

Jordan Newell (L) 7,852

John Pitts (Ukip) 5,870

Mark Goacher (G) 2,499

Ken Scrimshaw (CPA) 109

Conservative GAIN from Liberal Democrat. Majority: 5,575