Hunt starts for Spring's successor

CONSERVATIVES in West Suffolk will next month choose a candidate to succeed Richard Spring, who is not seeking re-election after 18 years as an MP.

Graham Dines

CONSERVATIVES in West Suffolk will next month choose a candidate to succeed Richard Spring, who is not seeking re-election after 18 years as an MP.

The vacancy is expected to attract keen interest from local and national candidates, and constituency chairman Colin Noble has already indicated that he hopes to be a candidate.

Mr Noble, 44, said: “I have always said we want the best person to the constituency, whether local or not, male or female. Although I'm not on the nationally approved candidates' list, I hope to be interviewed soon to enable me to apply formally.”


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Mr Noble, who has been a Suffolk county councillor since 2006, is standing down as constituency chairman for the duration of the selection process, which now will be overseen by Richard Balfe, one of the deputy chairmen and a former Euro MP for London.

Mr Balfe has agreed a timetable with Conservative Central Office, which starts with the vacancy being formally advertised on Friday.

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Mr Spring is one of a clutch of senior Tories who have decided to call it a day, even though opinion polls show that the party is the favourite to win the general election, which must be held by June 3.

Applications must be received by December 14 and the shortlisting committee is expected to choose six names - three men and three women as party rules dictate - to be interviewed by the West Suffolk executive on January 16.

The final selection meeting will by held on January 30

West Suffolk includes the whole of Forest Heath district and a large chunk of St Edmundsbury borough. Principal towns are Haverhill, Newmarket, Brandon, Mildenhall and Stanton.

Mr Spring's majority in 2005 was 8,909, but boundary changes which come into effect at the next election sees the transfer of Horringer into the Bury St Edmunds constituency.

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