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Split opposition could clear the way for Quince in Colchester

PUBLISHED: 07:30 28 November 2019

Colchester is set to be keenly-fought in the 2019 General Election.  Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Colchester is set to be keenly-fought in the 2019 General Election. Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Colchester is potentially one of the most interesting seats in the area - for 18 years it was held by Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell but it has returned Conservative Will Quince.

Will Quince will be hoping to consolidate his hold on Colchester in the General Election. Picture: OFFICE OF WILL QUINCEWill Quince will be hoping to consolidate his hold on Colchester in the General Election. Picture: OFFICE OF WILL QUINCE

It is one of the most fluid seats in the country - the rapid growth of new housing has led to an influx of new residents which make it more difficult to project the results of one election on the next.

Issues in the constituency:

Growth of the town: Colchester is a town that is growing faster than many others in the region and this is putting considerable pressure on the area.

Many of the new homes are being built outside the constituency itself, but their development - and that of new retail and leisure facilities on the edge of town will have a huge impact on Colchester as a whole.

Tina McKay is standing for Labour in Colchester. Picture: JAKE FOXFORDTina McKay is standing for Labour in Colchester. Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

This growth has brought a significant number of new people into the town and many new homes have been built in the constituency.

This growth has made it more difficult to get around the town and congestion is now a significant problem for much of the time on any day.

But the town centre has come under pressure as new shopping centres have attracted shoppers away from the historic heart of the town.

Transport and commuting: The growth of Colchester has attracted many more residents who commute to London or other parts of Essex - putting more pressure on road and rail links.

Martin Goss is hoping to win Colchester back for the Liberal Democrats. Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCILMartin Goss is hoping to win Colchester back for the Liberal Democrats. Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

The number of passengers using the town's two rail stations has increased significantly over recent years and this has led to growing concerns about whether the rail network can cope.

The introduction of new trains by Greater Anglia over the next two years should help - but pressure needs to continue to be applied to Network Rail to upgrade the track as well.

Major road links are also a concern. The A12 between Marks Tey and Chelmsford and the A120 to Braintree both desperately need major improvements - but these still appear to be at least a decade away although improvements are at least in the pipeline.

Crime: As a large urban centre within easy reach of London, crime is a constant concern and the town has been targeted by "county lines" gangs from the capital along with other centres in the region.

Green candidate Mark Goacher. Picture: Mark GoacherGreen candidate Mark Goacher. Picture: Mark Goacher

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Dealing with serious crime and with general anti-social behaviour is likely to be a significant election issue.

Defence: Colchester retains a significant garrison which plays a major role in the life of the town. Its defence links stretch back centuries and the votes of service personnel and their families living in the town are significant.

Culture and heritage: Colchester is proud of its claim to be Britain's Oldest Town with all its links to the Roman city founded there. Today its Norman castle has been joined by the First Site gallery and the Mercury Theatre to provide a vibrant cultural offer to people from a wide area.

University: The University of Essex is just outside the constituency but many of the students live in digs in the town and the student vote is significant in this seat.

Who is standing?

Will Quince, Conservative. Won the seat from the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and had a 5,677 majority (over Labour) two years ago. He is now a junior minister in the Department of Work and Pensions.

Tina McKay, Labour. She was selected to stand for the seat last year after only joining Labour in 2015. She will be trying to become the first Labour MP for the town in nearly 70 years.

Martin Goss, Liberal Democrat. After 18 years of being a Liberal Democrat fortress, the party finished second in 2015 and was relegated to third place in 2017 - but since then it has had something of a revival locally as well as nationally.

Mark Goacher, Green Party. A well-known figure in Green politics in Essex, Mr Goacher won a seat on the borough council in May and is now standing for Westminister.

Who will win in Colchester?

With a majority of 5,677, Will Quince cannot take anything for granted - but he will probably be able to benefit from a split opposition.

The Colchester Labour Party has seen considerable in-fighting between newcomers backed by Momentum and more traditional members over recent years, and Ms McKay is seen as being firmly on the left.

Liberal Democrat Martin Goss has a long record as a councillor in the town and will hope to regain some of his party's support lost in the wake of the Westminster coalition. The struggle between Labour and the Liberal Democrats to establish a clear challenge to the Conservatives could allow Mr Quince to return to Westminster.

Mr Goacher has a voice on the borough council - but faces a tough challenge to make an impact in this election.

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