Colchester Tories to choose candidate

AN open primary is being held in Colchester tonight to choose a Tory parliamentary candidate to try to overturn a Liberal Democrat majority of more than 6,000.

By Graham Dines

AN open primary is being held in Colchester tonight to choose a Tory parliamentary candidate who will then battle to overturn a Liberal Democrat majority of more than 6,000.

Four candidates have been shortlisted, and the meeting will not just be open to Conservative Party members.

Any resident of Colchester who has registered in advance can turn up and vote in the primary, a method of selecting a candidate imported from the United States which is being increasingly used by the Tories since David Cameron became leader.


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The final quartet, who will make a speech and answer questions, were chosen by party activists headed by the constituency chairman Ron Levy.

Essex county councillor and Cabinet member Sarah Candy, who lives in the borough and was educated in the town, is on the shortlist.

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A businesswoman, she is married to leading Tory activist and Tendring councillor Neil Stock and the couple have three children,

The other three who have been shortlisted are:-

Chris Whitbread, the deputy leader of Epping Forest district council, who is married with two children.

Jill Skalla, the head of operations for National Children's Homes and a voluntary worker on mental health issues, who is also married with two children.

Mark Brooks, a public relations officer living in Kent who undertakes voluntary work supporting male victims of domestic violence.

The Colchester seat, which was created under the revision of constituency boundaries in 1997, has been won by the Liberal Democrats for the past three elections.

At the next General Election the seat changes again, losing Stanway to the new constituency of Witham.

In 2005, the Conservative vote increased by 3.2%, but the Lib Dem majority went up to 6,277 as Labour's vote collapsed by more than 5%.

The swing required by the Tories to win Colchester, which the Tories must gain if Mr Cameron is to become Prime Minister, is 7%.

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