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Labour win Norwich South; Conservatives hold South Norfolk

01:33 08 May 2015

Voters entering the Plumstead Road Library polling station. Photo by Sophia France.

Voters entering the Plumstead Road Library polling station. Photo by Sophia France.

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Find out below what’s been happening in your constituency.

Norwich South

Clive Lewis is the new MP for Norwich South, a gain from the Lib Dems defeating Simon Wright.

A BBC exit poll has predicted a Green victory in Norwich South, which Labour sources at the count dismissed as wide of the mark.

Five years ago Liberal Democrat Simon Wright unseated Labour former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, making it the 18th most marginal seat in the UK.

Mr Lewis won with 19,033 votes with the Conservatives in second. The Green Party was a distant third and the incumbent, Simon Wright, fell to fourth.

Verification of postal votes got under way at just after 10.15pm, with 46 ballot boxes having to be taken to the count from across the district.

Labour’s Clive Lewis, a former BBC journalist, is hoping to win the seat back for Labour and overturn Mr Wright’s slender 310 majority. The seat is ranked sixth on Labour’s target list.

But, district nurse Lesley Grahame will be hoping for a Green Party triumph, with Norwich South one of their main targets.

The Greens remain strong opposition to Labour at City Hall and have campaigned hard to improve on their fourth place showing in 2010.

With the BBC exit poll predicting a Green victory in Norwich South, their candidate Lesley Grahame said it would be “well deserved”.

The district nurse, who is also a city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet, said: “We won’t know until the result if it is correct, but if it is it would be well deserved.

“One more Green MP would make so much difference because we need a change in direction.

“All the other parties are digging us into a bigger hole and we need a ladder to get out.”

Labour, however, say the prediction is wide of the mark and does not reflect what their sampling suggests.

The Conservatives ranked third last time and have not held the seat since the early 1980s, but Lisa Townsend is looking to change that.

UKIP’s Steve Emmens will be looking to improve on his 2.4pc of the vote last time around.

David Peel, who was a public relations advisor in Tony Blair’s press office, is standing for Class War, while taxi driver Cengiz Ceker is standing as an independent.

At the count, the Conservatives were buoyed by the BBC exit poll which predicted a Tory majority.

There was a brief confrontation between Class War candidate Mr Peel and Labour city councillor Bert Bremner, but council officers stepped in to quickly defuse the situation.

A high turnout is predicted, with queues reported at some if the city’s polling stations.

A result is not expected until sometime between 4am and 6am.

One person not at the Norwich South count is Lucy Galvin, Green councillor for Wensum.

She was not allowed into St Andrew’s Hall after a decision was taken to exclude her.

Mrs Galvin, who is standing down as a councillor is facing a standards hearing. Returning officer and City Hall chief executive informed her she was not allowed entry to the count.

A council spokeswoman said: “A councillor was excluded from the count as they were subject to an ongoing code of conduct investigation involving a security matter.”

The standards issue revolves around the use of Mrs Galvin’s security card at City Hall, when protesters unfurled a banner about homelessness on the balcony.

Mrs Galvin said: “I let citizens into City Hall who then made a two minute peaceful protest about homelessness. I am no threat to security.

“I am lodging a formal complaint about the behaviour of Laura McGilivray, chief executive of the city council and returning officer.”

South Norfolk

Richard Bacon has been returned with an increased majority of over 20,000.

He said: “If it is right it is a good result for the Conservatives. It is a careful and cautious endorsement on what the country wants.

“It is not a great result for the Labour party. I can’t see Labour forming the next government. I am feeling very positive, but it is not an overwhelming endorsement. We are on the right track and we have been given the votes to get on and do more.”

Mr Bacon said the two main issues on the doorstep during the campaign were broadband and immigration.

Martin Wilby, deputy leader of South Norfolk Council, has said the turnout for the general election in the district could be 75pc.

He was speaking as the first boxes of votes were being emptied and the votes started to be verified.

He said: “I think we are looking at a high turn out, maybe 75pc,

“It is great day for democracy, in my ward (Dicklebugh) there were many people who were voting for the first time.”

Jacqueline Howe is running again as Liberal Democrat. Last year she came second to Conservative Richard Bacon with 16,193.

She said: “There is no doubt this is a different election to 2010. I think UKIP is making a big difference and the Green Party is trying hard to.

It is hard to predict.”

Nationally Mrs Howe said the Lib Dem appeared to be being “unfairly punished” at the polls as her party had achieved some good things in the coalition, especially with people paying less tax.

She said she would be “happy” if her party could form another coalition.

Norwich North

The first drama at what had promised to be a key marginal did not come from the election results.

Rather, a blaring fire alarm urging people to remain calm and evacuate the building rang around the Norwich North and Broadland counts at the

Norfolk Showground.

Initially the finger of blame pointed at some steaming tea urns, which were helping to caffeinate the weary candidates, counters and media into the early hours.

But it later emerged that a faulty fire alarm box was the source of the problem, with an engineer managing to silence the din after the best part of an hour.

The count was anticipated to start at 2am, but a turnout that exceeded all expectations pushed this back, first to 3am, then to 3.30am, then to 4am…

Eloise O’Hare, the agent for independent candidate Mick Hardy, found a novel way to pass the time – sketching the scene as people totted up

the votes, in an elaborate work of art.

As 4.30am came and went, there was no sign of Labour’s Jess Asato or Tory Chloe Smith – the key players in the head-to-head.

It would seem that they made the correct call to bide their time, with declaration of results not taking place until after 7am.

More than 130 volunteers have arrived to count the ballot papers that would determine the result of the most closely-fought constituency in the region – Norwich North.

The battle between Tory Chloe Smith and Labour’s Jess Asato was too close to call as the polls closed, and interest in the key marginal

attracted national reporters from papers including the Guardian to the count.

Phil Kirby, acting returning officer for Broadland District Council, said there had been a strong turnout across the 64 polling stations in the Norwich North constituency.

“We had queues on opening,” he said. “It’s been busy across the patch, but as far as I know people have been turning out and they’ve been able to cast their votes.”

The polling stations in Thorpe St Andrew were among the busiest, he added, and the numbers had exceeded expectations.

“I think we’ve been lulled into a sense of false security as recent elections like the police and crime commissioner election had a low turnout,” said Mr Kirby. “Now we’ve got this and it’s significant.”

Results are predicted between 4am and 6am, but Mr Kirby said it would be “towards the back of that” having seen the high turnout.

Mid-Norfolk

George Freeman has held on to his seat, increasing his majority by over 2,000 votes.

Mr Freeman is the strong favourite for the seat he won with a 13,856 majority in 2010 and polled close to half of the votes cast.

Some see that Mr Freeman has been facing a significant threat from UKIP.

UKIP already has a presence in Mid Norfolk with Stan Hebborn representing Watton on Norfolk County Council.

Parliamentary candidate Anna Coke has been seen prominently around the constituency in her UKIP battle bus in recent weeks.

It was a case of the calm before the storm at Dereham Leisure Centre last night, where the votes were being counted.

Labour’s Harry Clarke was the first candidate to arrive at 9.15pm and there was no sign of the others at 10pm.

There was a growing contingent of Conservatives, supporting Mr Freeman, including county and district councillors.

During the campaign Mr Freeman has spoken of his passion to halt the decline of village pubs, post offices and shops.

He has made his case around how he has “led the charge” for better infrastructure, including the dualling of the A11 and bringing David Cameron to Dereham to pledge £300m for the dualling of the A47.

Labour’s Harry Clarke has been making his case at numerous public meetings on issues including housing and planning, while Liberal Democrat Paul Speed had urged voters to “send a message to the political classes that no MP is safe”.

The Green Party has been represented by Simeon Jackson who has vowed to fight for the NHS, the environment and a strong local economy.

There were hopes of a high turnout of voters in Mid Norfolk, with reports of long queues at polling stations.

People were queuing at Dereham Cricket Club at 6.45pm and the chairman said: “I’ve never seen it as busy.”

North Norfolk

North Norfolk Liberal Democrat candidate Norman Lamb said he was “very sad” his “good friend” and Energy Secretary Ed Davey had lost his seat.

Mr Lamb said he had thought the party would have been able to hold onto the seat, but that it was perhaps not unexpected.

Mr Davey was 4pc behind the Conservative candidate in his Kingston and Surbiton constituency, which was the latest blow in what Mr Lamb called a “tsunami” of a night.

“The frustration is it has been a coalition government that has in many people’s eyes succeeded. It has made some strong economic growth and has had record employment.”

But he added: “The larger party has prospered and the smaller party has got destroyed.”

However he said: “We have to live with the electoral verdict.”

Looking to the future Mr Lamb added: “We need some time for reflection.”

A grim-looking Norman Lamb has just arrived at the count in North Norfolk, describing the national outlook for his Liberal Democrat party as “fairly disastrous” and questioning a democratic process which had allowed the Conservatives to spend “a fortune” targeting Lib-Dem seats.

The boxes keep piling into North Norfolk’s count but there is still no sign of Lib Dem’s Norman Lamb or UKIP’s Michael Baker.

Ed Maxfield, Norman Lamb’s agent, said he “daren’t predict” the outcome in North Norfolk at this stage as boxes from the west of the district, including those for Wells and Blakeney, had not arrived yet.

In the past those parts of the district have shown a strong Conservative leaning. However, Mr Maxfield added that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Mr Lamb was returned as MP, with a reduced majority. He said UKIP had increased its share of the vote and he believed their candidate, Michael Baker, would finish third, behind the Lib-Dems and Tories. Neither Mr Lamb or Mr Baker have arrived at the count, in North Walsham’s sports hall.

With this year’s election featuring even more than ever on social media, Conservative candidate Ann Steward said it was a great way to engage younger people. Mrs Steward said if she won she’d celebrate “with another cup of tea” and immediately look for somewhere to live in London.

Labour candidate Denise Burke’s husband Stephen said the exit polls were “implausible”, and added he agreed with Paddy Ashdown who said he would “eat his hat” if they were true.

Turnout is not expected to be announced until nearer to 1am, Returning Officer Sheila Oxtoby said polling stations had been busy across the district.

Mrs Steward said she was delighted with the exit poll results and said she looked forward to “turning North Norfolk blue again”.

Martyn Sloman, agent for North Norfolk Labour candidate Denise Burke, said if the exit polls were right, he was “very disappointed indeed”. Professor Sloman added: “However, the polls were radically wrong in 1992 and they may have got it wrong again.We have fought an extremely hard campaign nationally and locally.”

Labour’s Denise Burke appeared at about 11.30pm and said she could not believe the exit polls. The TV polls did not tie up with the YouGov predictions. “If it’s true, it blows all the other pollsters out of the water,” said Mrs Burke. “I can’t quite believe the Lib Dems are going to lose that number of seats either - it’s really odd and doesn’t stack up.”

“Even Nicola Sturgeon thinks 58 seats for the SNP is doubtful and, if she’s right, one has to ask will some of those 58 go to Labour?” Mrs Burke said she had been round the whole North Norfolk constituency today and believed all those who had promised to vote Labour had done so. “For me, in North Norfolk it’s about increasing the Labour vote from 2010,” she said. “I have no doubt that we have done that.”

Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb is expected in about 10 minutes. He must be hoping he’s one of the 10 members of his party predicted to hang on to their seat.

UKIP representatives are all smiles but no sign yet of their candidate, Michael Baker. Mr Macartney-Filgate said he had thoroughly enjoyed the campaign which had been “amicable with other candidates” . He felt that was a reflection on north Norfolk. He had spent the day gardening at home in Catfield.

Broadland

Veteran MP Keith Simpson looks likely to hold on to his seat in Broadland.

The constituency was created in 2010, but is actually a part of the old Mid Norfolk area.

It is a safe Conservative battleground with Mr Simpson at the helm since 1997.

In 2010, the Liberal Democrat’s candidate Dan Roper sheared a slice off the Conservative vote, with 32.4pc of the vote.

But Mr Simpson still held a comfortable 13.8pc majority at the ballot box.

This time around, the campaign from Fakenham in the west to Acle in the east has been fairly low key, with only a peppering of election posters at the roadside.

As well as the current incumbent, Chris Jones (Labour), Steve Riley (Liberal Democrat), Andrew Boswell (Green) and Stuart Agnew (UK Independence Party) have been batting fairly quietly for a share of the vote.

Like other candidates elsewhere in the region, some Broadland posters were vandalised and there were more UKIP banners to be seen than before.

But despite that, the turn out this year could be one of the largest in Broadland for some time.

Acting returning officer Phil Kirby said Aylsham was one of the busiest polling stations, with queues forming throughout the constituency long before opening at 7am.

Great Yarmouth

As results across the country continue to roll in we caught up with two of the parties facing a tough morning ahead.

Great Yarmouth’s UKIP candidate believes the voting system needs to be “seriously” looked at after analysing the predicted national results.

Alan Grey said UKIP had “got the percentage but it’s not converted to seats”.

“I think we’re going to have to seriously look at proportional representation,” he added.

Mr Grey said the local campaign had gone well with “excellent” feedback from people on the doorsteps.

Liberal Democrat candidate James Joyce, meanwhile said he was not “exactly over the moon” with his party’s results.

Around 30pc of the vote has now been counted.

Great Yarmouth incumbent Brandon Lewis has said he is “quietly confident” as counting gets under way at the town hall.

Mr Lewis has arrived at the hall as the mood in the building has started to lull slightly, with supporters still waiting to hear about turn out results.

Mr Lewis, who won the seat in 2010 with a 10pc majority, said he had not been nervous during the campaign but “apprehensive”.

“We have had a really positive reaction from people on the doorstep,” he added.

Commenting on the exit polls, which have put the Tories ahead, he said: “They are just a poll, I have never commented or tweeted about polls but what’s interesting is the early results are backing those polls up.

“If anything, we’re actually doing slightly better.”

Four out of the six candidates have now arrived at the count. Labour’s Lara Norris and Sam Townley from Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol are yet to arrive.

The BBC exit poll is saying Conservatives will keep Great Yarmouth, but we really won’t know until about 6am.

Verification is expected to go on until 2.30am with results expected in the early hours.

A Conservative local election candidate who spent Thursday knocking on doors said talking to residents face-to-face - rather that simply shoving a leaflet through the door - will have made a real difference in Yarmouth where one conversation could convince an undecided voter.

She also said it was good to see many young people casting their votes.

The press room is full of national media, and rosettes of all colours can be seen sported by supporters who are keeping a close eye on the ballots as they come in.

Green Party candidate Harry Webb said he was up early today, canvassing households in the borough’s Green strongholds from 7am.

Whatever the result for the general election, he’ll be back at Town Hall on Friday afternoon when the count for the borough council local elections get underway.

“I love the excitement of it all,” said the 21-year-old.

Labour borough council stalwart Michael Jeal said he was pleased with the Sunderland result and would have been more surprised if they hadn’t won.

North West Norfolk

The North-West Norfolk constituency is considered a safe seat for the Conservatives and Henry Bellingham, but many conversations at the count focused on whether the majority would change, and how close the other parties may come.

As supporters of the parties first arrived at Lynnsport, the bustle and excitement of the evening ahead was loud and clear.

Then the exit polls were released just after 10pm. While the Tories were delighted at the predictions, the Labour party initially remained upbeat about the situation. The Liberal Democrats admitted defeat at the start of the evening.

As the evening went on, the Labour camp’s atmosphere grew more and more sombre. Supporters were slumped in front of a big screen by the bar, their arms crossed as the results were announced from across the country.

Even Jo Rust, ever the optimist, seemed a bit disgruntled at the lack of voters on her side.

“This isn’t a reflection of what people said to me on their doorsteps,” she said.

Meanwhile, the UKIP supporters spent much of the night trying to work out why the party seems to be successful in all elections, apart from the general elections.

It was the Green Party who seemed to be the most positive, whatever the outcome.

But what time will we have any results declared in these constituencies? At 4:30am, that was still a question nobody could answer. And Henry Bellingham wasn’t even in the building.

Throughout the campaign, Jo Rust for Labour has been making her voice heard, as the first female candidate to ever stand for North-West Norfolk.

“I don’t think anybody really knows how the count is going to go,” she admitted.

“But we’ve had far more positive responses for Labour than ‘go aways’ when we’ve knocked on doors – and having a strong local candidate representing the party is appealing to voters.”

Hugh Lanham, Liberal Democrat candidate, and Michael de Whalley of the Green Party, were both hoping to at least increase their party’s share of the vote.

While UKIP candidate Toby Coke was expected to make at least some dent in the majority for the Tories.

“Well, we will be finding out tonight,” joked Mr Coke yesterday evening.

All the candidates were at Lynnsport in King’s Lynn for the count.

Mr Bellingham said: “I have been away from the constituency and in Norwich on election day but Chloe needed help – it’s called ‘mutual aid’.

“I’m optimistic we will do well, but we’re not complacent as a party.”

South West Norfolk

Few surprises are expected at South West Norfolk, with Conservative candidate Elizabeth Truss confident of reclaiming her seat.

She said the response across the constituency had been “extremely positive” – and said the early exit polls were looking good for her party.

The Lynnsport main hall, where the count was taking place, filled up slowly from 10pm, with verification expected to start at 11.15am, with a result due at 4am.

Waveney

Early indications are showing that Waveney’s parliamentary seat could be decided by just hundreds of votes.

Conservative Peter Aldous won the seat in 2010 from Labour’s Bob Blizzard by just 769 votes.

But the result in 2015 could be even tighter as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is almost certain to build significantly on the 5.2pc of share of the vote they achieved five years ago.

More than two hours into the verification of the votes, political party counting agents have been able to get a sense of how many votes each candidate has achieved.

At one stage it was looking as though UKIP might even threaten to win Waveney. With Liberal Democrat activist Adam Robertson saying: “I think the shock is UKIP here. They will do better than people thought.”

UKIP parliamentary candidate Simon Tobin said: “Looking at the paperwork, we’ve got lots of votes. We stand a good chance of winning this seat.”

However Conservative agent Mark Bee the data is showing UKIP will not win Waveney – but that it could have a significant bearing on the result.

“UKIP are doing very strongly and will be the third party,” he said. “The protest party is no longer the Lib Dems.

“They could be taking votes from both Conservative and Labour – that’s where they could affect the result.”

Mr Bee also predicted the Liberal Democrats would lose their deposit in Waveney and that disaffected Labour voters would be voting Green.
Sonia Barker, Labour group leader on Waveney District Council, said: “I feel it’s very close. I still feel it’s between Conservative and Labour, which I think it has been right from the start.”

Waveney’s Liberal Democrats have admitted they have been “hammered” in Waveney – and hit out at the national party’s targeting strategy for damaging their vote in the area.

Liberal Democrat activist Adam Robertson, who is also a candidate in the council elections, said the result was partly down to the fact the party had been in coalition.

“We’ve taken a lot of flak as the junior partner,” he said, highlighting tuition fees as a particularly issue that had hit the Liberal Democrats’ popularity.

But he also criticised the “bad party organisation, by focusing everything on our target seats”.

“We’ve put up a good fight but what else can you say – we’re going to get hammered,” he added.

The Liberal Democrats scored 13pc of the vote in Waveney in 2010 – but some at the count at Lowestoft’s Waterlane Leisure Centre are even speculating the Liberal Democrats could lose their deposit in the constituency.

Although UKIP scored just 5.2pc of the vote in Waveney last time around, its increasing impact means there could be fewer votes to fight over for the two main parties.

Labour would need a swing of just 0.8pc to win back seat with the key issues which will have swayed voters tending to be the third crossing, employment and infrastructure.

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