Lib Dems coming back in West Norfolk, says leader

Hugh Lanham Liberal Democrat Candidate Heacham ANL-150422-124653009
Hugh Lanham Liberal Democrat Candidate Heacham ANL-150422-124653009
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Liberal Democrat activists in West Norfolk have claimed they are on the road to recovery following the recruitment of dozens of new members.

The party currently has no borough councillors, while its two Parliamentary candidates in the borough both lost their deposits at the general election in May.

But, since then, more than 25 new members have joined the party’s North West Norfolk branch, equating to an increase in its overall membership of around 70 per cent.

And Hugh Lanham, who contested the North West Norfolk constituency and is now the branch’s chairman, says their enthusiasm is encouraging for the future.

He said: “I think we will start to field candidates and rebuild our base on the borough council. We’ve got to do it.”

The party has endured a number of terrible election results in recent years, culminating with heavy losses in May which left them with just eight MPs.

Locally, the party’s vote fell by almost 20 per cent from the results in 2010 and, although North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was re-elected with a substantially reduced majority, Mr Lanham and South West Norfolk candidate Rupert Moss-Eccardt both lost their deposits.

The party also lost its last two seats on West Norfolk Council after one of its former councillors, Tony Bubb, retained his Dersingham seat as a Conservative and the other, John Loveless, chose not to stand at all.

But Mr Lanham believes events since May have made the contribution his party made in government clearer and given them the chance to take advantage of the divide between Labour and the Conservatives.

He said: “The left and right have gone off to do their own thing and that does leave some central ground to play with.

“We did have a moderating effect on the Conservatives and we’re seeing this in the current government, which isn’t very moderate.”