Tories snub locals for Suffolk Central

SUFFOLK Conservatives in a safe seat have snubbed local candidates and short-listed members from David Cameron's controversial gold list.

Graham Dines

SUFFOLK Conservatives in a safe seat have snubbed local candidates and short-listed members from David Cameron's controversial gold list.

Those known to have applied for the chance to succeed Sir Michael Lord as Conservative candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich were the leader of Mid Suffolk district council Tim Passmore, senior county councillors Guy McGregor and Jane Storey, Ipswich councillor Stephen Wells, and the 2001 parliamentary candidate for Ipswich Edward Wild.

Instead, the six names on the gender balanced shortlist are Katy Bourne, Tim Clark, Joanna Gardner, Daniel Poulter, Dominic Schofield, and Claire Strong.

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The traditional method of choosing the winning candidate is to be dispensed with, another move which will please Mr Cameron and the so-called modernisers who are in charge at Conservative Central Office. An open primary election is to be held on November 27, in which any member of the electorate can apply to attend the meeting and to vote.

Of the six candidates, the one with the greatest claim to have any local knowledge is Claire Strong. She has campaigned in the county, having been a Tory candidate for the European elections in the East of England constituency both this year and in 2004.

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A North Hertfordshire district councillor since 1995, she is strongly opposed to inappropriate development on the Green Belt, which will go down with many Tories who do not want the northern fringe of Ipswich developed or any extension of the borough into the surrounding countryside.

Mrs Bourne is the East Sussex area chairman in the southern Conservative women's organisation, and director of a television company, Joanna Gardner was defeated by the now foreign secretary David Miliband in South Shields in 2001 is a former deputy mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, Mr Poulter is a hospital registrar in obstetrics gynaecology, and Tim Clark is a teacher who stood against former home secretary David Blunkett in Sheffield Brightside in 2005, and Mr Schofield was Tory candidate in Battersea in 2001.

Sir Michael Lord, who has been MP since 1983, is retiring at the general election. In 2005, he had a majority of 7,856 in a constituency which stretches from Christchurch Park in Ipswich to the Norfolk border at Hoxne and includes Eye, Debenham, Framlingham, Wickham Market, Kesgrave, and Great Blakenham.

The EADT was unable to contact the chairman of Central Suffolk & North Ipswich Conservatives for a comment.

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