Ipswich constituency firmly up for grabs in the 2019 General Election
PUBLISHED: 09:25 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:21 16 December 2019
Ipswich is the only constituency in Suffolk and Essex where there is a genuine contest in the 2019 General Election with Labour’s Sandy Martin defending a majority of just 831 in 2017.
It is quite a dynamic seat which has changed dramatically in character over the last 30 years - but it has always remained a key marginal seat.
Issues in Ipswich's election campaign:
Crime: There seems to have always been concern about crime in Ipswich - but over recent years this has focussed on the links to drugs gangs and in particular to the "county lines" links between the town and London and other major cities.
Knife crime has been a particular concern in the town following several tragic incidents over the last two years - and prompted a visit to the town by Home Secretary Priti Patel at the start of the campaign.
Prosperity in the town: Over the years there has been a feeling that Ipswich has not really reached its potential as a large town/small city just 70 miles from London.
The town needs an ambassador to sell its positive points to those who are not aware of the great opportunities it has.
Transport links: Road and rail links to London and the midlands need serious investment. The A12 road to London is due to be upgraded in Essex - but not for another nine years. There is also a need to improve the A14 in Suffolk, particularly the Copdock Mill junction with the A12 just outside Ipswich.
And while new trains are coming, there is still no commitment from Network Rail to improve the Great Eastern Main Line with new track in Essex and increasing track speeds or the cross-country route through Ely and Peterborough to allow that to reach its full potential.
These were included in the 2012 Rail Manifesto, agreed by Greater Anglia's owner Abellio, Network Rail and the Government.
There have been some track upgrades - years of disruption on the line between Stratford and Shenfield as part of the Crossrail project and track replacement in Colchester. But the game-changing projects agreed in principle in 2012 have not been confirmed by Network Rail.
Poverty in the town: The growth of foodbanks and the increasing number of beggars on the streets is an indication that there continues to be a serious problem of homelessness and general poverty in the town.
There have been limited numbers of new homes, both social housing and private developments, over recent years - but overall bureaucracy and delays in getting work started have held back much needed new housing.
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Congestion: Like other towns and cities across the country, Ipswich is increasingly suffering from traffic congestion - leading to increased pollution problems.
A major project to ease this, the Upper Orwell Crossing, was cancelled because Suffolk County Council and the Department for Transport couldn't make the sums add up.
What can be done to ease this problem? One solution favoured by many in the town is a northern bypass - but the cost of the project and opposition from people outside the town (including leading politicians) makes it a very problematic question.
Who is standing?
Sandy Martin: Won the seat for Labour in a surprise result in 2017. Former county and borough councillor, a well-known political figure in the town for 20 years.
Tom Hunt: Conservative candidate who has been a councillor in Cambridgeshire and worked for the Elected Mayor in that county.
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett: Contested the seat in 2017. Will be hoping to improve on that performance when he came fourth and lost his deposit.
Barry Broom. Green Party candidate who stood in 2015 when he achieved his party's largest-ever vote in the seat (but he still lost his deposit).
Nicola Thomas: The only Brexit Party candidate left in Suffolk or Essex after they were withdrawn from contesting Conservative-held seats.
Who will win in Ipswich?
This really is the $64,000 Question - and we will not know until the early hours of December 13.
Last week's massive Yougov poll suggested that the Conservatives had their nose in front in the constituency by 43% to 39%. But that is a small margin and the poll was taken with two weeks of the campaign still to go - plenty of time for more twists and turns.
Ipswich is a town that voted decisively to leave the EU in 2016, but the next year voted Mr Martin - a keen remainer - as its MP. Mr Hunt, who supported Vote Leave during the referendum has offered strong support to the Prime Minister's plan to leave the EU by the end of January. Could that be decisive in the General Election?
Ipswich is a constituency that has had a bit of a maverick reputation over the years - it is seen as basically a Labour seat that can be won by the Tories in a good year for the party (during the Conservative government of 1979-1997, Ipswich was held by a Tory MP for only five years).
But things change, and with the growth in the number of people commuting from Ipswich to London and the switch of jobs from manufacturing to more white-collar work things have changed. The seat is now totally up for grabs in the general election.
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