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By election campaigners brush with law

PUBLISHED: 17:01 19 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

TWO of the parties seeking to prise Ipswich away from Labour found themselves in trouble at the town's railway station today.

A car covered with Liberal Democrat stickers was clamped when it was left all night in a parking space limited to 20 minutes.

TWO of the parties seeking to prise Ipswich away from Labour found themselves in trouble at the town's railway station today.

A car covered with Liberal Democrat stickers was clamped when it was left all night in a parking space limited to 20 minutes.

And the Conservatives were asked to leave the station after they tried leafleting commuters heading away from town this morning.

The Liberal Democrat's fine came on the day that party leader Charles Kennedy paid a return visit to Ipswich today.

The car was only released after a prompt payment of £50 to Anglia Railways.

"This was not the car we had sent up to collect Charles, it was the car of another activist who had gone to the station," said a spokesman for the Liberal Democrat campaign.

And the leader himself was philosophical about what had happened.

"These things are sent to try us. As far as I am aware the car moved perfectly and all four wheels were turning without any obstruction," he said.

He was in town to visit the Bond Street Nursery, which provides care for pre-school children, and then completed a walkabout in the town centre.

"This is the kind of service we are very keen to promote – it is good for parents and for children," he said at the nursery.

And he enjoyed the traditional campaigning he was undertaking in the town centre.

"This is what we are good at, meeting people, listening to their problems and trying to help them," he said.

Mr Kennedy is not the first party leader to find visiting Ipswich a troubling experience.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith found himself delayed by two hours on the train when he came to Ipswich last Thursday.

Today his party members were ordered off the station when they tried to leaflet commuters leaving for London.

Anglia Railways will not allow political activists to leaflet on the station itself because of fears of causing an obstruction.

"They were asked to leave and went on to public land at the front of the station," Anglia spokesman Peter Meades said today.

"We were leafleting on the platform at Ipswich station for about one hour this morning. We received no complaints from any member of the public," said a Conservative spokesman.

"When a member of the station staff asked us to move outside the station we immediately complied with their request."

Mr Kennedy was not the only high-profile politician in town today – former Foreign Secretary and current leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook was visiting Holywells High School.

He was seeing how the school is coping in special measures – and how the new school council is helping to involve pupils in the decision-making process.

"I was very impressed to see what is happening at Holywells," he told the Evening Star today.

"I know the school had serious problems a few months ago, but it certainly seems to be pulling together now. The pupils and staff are determined to improve it.

"I was very impressed by Karen Grimes, the new headteacher – there is a real determination at all levels to work together," he said.

Meanwhile Tory Party cabinet office spokesman Tim Collins was in town to support their candidate Paul West and unveil a defector from the Liberal Democrats.

Dan Munford, who fought the Vale of Clywd seat for the Lib Dems in 1997, is backing Mr West because he says he now regards his former party as "neither liberal nor democratic."

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