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General Election campaign has well and truly started in West Norfolk





It’s the turn of Liberal Democrat Rob Colwell to write this week’s Friday Politics...

It would seem that the general election struggle in North West Norfolk between the Conservative incumbent James Wild and me has already got under way.

My team and I recently started delivering a letter explaining my reasons for standing against Mr Wild to residents across Dersingham and since then I have been knocking on doors and talking to residents. I was surprised to find that hot on my heels in the freezing cold weather down the quiet streets of Dersingham was no other than Mr Wild and his wife Baroness Evans, until recently leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords. They were delivering a Conservative leaflet. The David and Goliath struggle to represent the constituency at Westminster has well and truly begun.

The flooded South Creake play area
The flooded South Creake play area

It would appear that Mr Wild has finally started to worry, after his party were defeated by the Liberal Democrats in all three of the county by-elections held in the constituency since May 2021 and then lost control of the borough council to an Independent Partnership last year. Against a backdrop of dire opinion polls, our MP has realised that his seat is not as safe as he once supposed.

Looking at the by-elections in more detail, I’m not surprised he’s worrying. They were held in three of the ten divisions in the constituency and they all took place in previously Conservative-held divisions. The most recent of them was in the rock-solid Tory division of Freebridge Lynn which covers the Woottons and rural areas near Lynn. In each case, the swing from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Democrats was more than half the entire Conservative vote share in the May 2021 county elections. Mr Wild knows that he cannot win if confronted by swings on this scale.

So why is he in so much trouble? Partly this is due to national factors, not least of which was the catastrophic premiership of Mr Wild’s neighbouring West Norfolk Conservative MP Liz Truss. But we don’t have to look far away to find local issues which represent a massive failure of government. And most of these pressing local issues relate to the gradual disintegration of our vital public services.

Flooding in Burnham Market
Flooding in Burnham Market

Let me give you just one example. I attended a community meeting in Burnham Market last week about flooding and sewage leaks in the Burnhams and Creakes. The terrible stories I heard echoed ones coming from many other communities around West Norfolk. Residents described only being able to flush their toilet once a day for over four weeks, or having their homes flooded three times in nine months. This is absolutely unacceptable in an advanced society. Yet the water companies are more interested in making large payments to their shareholders and their bosses than providing the necessary investment in infrastructure.

Even in the relatively short run, there are things which can be done to alleviate the problems residents are facing. Lord Dannatt used to be in charge of the British Army. He knows how to get things done. A year and a half ago as part of the Norfolk Strategic Flood Alliance, he stated that £80million was urgently needed to prevent flooding in Norfolk. The government was asked to provide the funding. They refused. No wonder Lord Dannatt quit.

Rob Colwell observes flooding in Burnham Market
Rob Colwell observes flooding in Burnham Market

The Conservative government backed by James Wild and Liz Truss is simply watching while our vital public services disintegrate. We all know their ideological priorities lie elsewhere. That is why I am asking local people to send me to Westminster with a clear mandate to stop this neglect once and for all.



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