Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - the hybrid seat that stretches from the heart of town to countryside
- Credit: citizenside.com
Created in 1983 and amended twice in boundary reviews, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is a hybrid seat that joins some of the most deprived parts of Ipswich to some of the most affluent towns and farmland in the county, says Paul Geater, political writer.
The overall effect has been to create the safest Conservative seat in Suffolk – and it is extremely difficult to foresee any result other than a Tory victory here during the early hours of May 8.
Most of the seat’s population lives in a belt around the north of Ipswich stretching from the Castle Hill, Whitton and Whitehouse estates in the town, to Claydon, Barham and Great Blakenham and across to Kesgrave and Rushmere St Andrew to the north east of Ipswich.
However north of this the seat extends right up to the Norfolk border and contains dozens of small villages and hamlets.
The largest town outside greater Ipswich is Framlingham and it also includes Wickham Market, Eye, and Debenham.
Dr Dan Poulter was first elected MP for the seat five years ago, succeeding long-serving MP Sir Michael Lord (now Lord Framlingham).
The challenges facing the seat vary considerably – and at times it has looked rather like a constituency that has been put together from bits that didn’t fit anywhere else in the county!
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Whitton and Whitehouse are based around council estates in north west Ipswich and face problems of deprivation and poverty.
Kesgrave, and Rushmere, is a still-growing new town which is effectively a very large suburb of Ipswich. It is home to a significant number of families with children – many of whom have high aspirations and this is putting pressure on the education system.
Further north in the countryside rural issues dominate.
Villages are seen to be under pressure because there is not enough affordable homes for people who want to live in the area their families have always called home.
And for those who are able to live in the countryside, communications are difficult. There is little public transport and the provision of both broadband and mobile phone coverage is very patchy.
All of these issues need to be tackled if the more rural areas of the constituency are to really feel part of the 21st century.
Agriculture and related issues are a major employment sector in much of the rural part of the county, while in the Kesgrave/Rushmere area many residents work in the technology sector at Martlesham, in Ipswich town centre, or in port-relates work at Felixstowe.
The Ipswich northern by-pass would pass through the constituency if ever built – and part of the controversial Ipswich northern fringe is in the seat.
The northern fringe would also impact traffic heading into Ipswich from villages to the north of the town like Westerfield, Witnesham and Henley which are all in the constituency.
For more election news from Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, see here