Election 2017: Labour’s Sandy Martin celebrates birthday with general election battle
- Credit: Gregg Brown
For many people their 60th birthday is time to look forward to new challenges – but for Sandy Martin the challenge is more daunting than most.
Because on the day he celebrated his landmark birthday he was formally chosen as his party’s candidate in the marginal Ipswich seat at the 2017 General Election.
He will be trying to overturn Conservative Ben Gummer’s 3,733 majority from 2015.
Mr Martin is leader of the Labour group on Suffolk County Council – and was also celebrating 20 years as a member of that authority on the same day. May 2 is clearly a significant date for him!
He has lived in Suffolk most of his life and moved to Ipswich from Halesworth in 1993 – and said he felt it was important that someone who really knew the town could represent it in Westminster.
He said: “Ipswich people want to be represented by someone who lives in Ipswich and is able to give all their attention to the issues that affect Ipswich. Partly because of my age I would not go to parliament with an ambition for ministerial office.”
Mr Martin is a regular campaigner with his Labour Party colleagues – and is seen as coming from the party’s mainstream tradition.
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From his discussions on the doorsteps he said people in the town were most concerned about the everyday issues that directly affected them – especially health, education and housing.
He said: “The major concerns that people want to talk about have not changed much from last time.”
Mr Martin said the role of an MP was not just to support their party in Westminster – it was also to act as an ambassador for their constituency.
And he felt that Ipswich was in a very strong position: “When you look at the port and the Waterfront and the proximity of the town to London, we are in a very fortunate position.
“And compared with many other places Ipswich is still relatively affordable. It is a great place to live but it needs to be even better.”
He is unconvinced by the arguments for a new large bridge linking the east and west banks of the River Orwell – but backs proposals for new bridges to allow the development of the island site at the Waterfront.
And he feels the best way of easing traffic in the town centre would be to build the long-awaited northern by-pass.
Mr Gummer congratulated Mr Martin on his selection and said he was looking forward to the campaign ahead.
Labour chooses candidates for other seats across the region
Labour has selected its candidates for this year’s general election – with several returning to the battle after standing two years ago.
The marginal seat of Waveney will be contested by Suffolk County Councillor Sonia Barker. Suffolk Coastal will be fought by Cameron Matthews, Bury St Edmunds by Bill Edwards for a second time, and West Suffolk by Michael Jeffreys again. Emma Bishton will contest the South Suffolk seat, while the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency will see Elizabeth Hughes stand for the party.
In Essex Tim Young will be standing for Labour in Colchester, Natasha Osben in Clacton, and Rosalind Scott will be fighting Harwich and North Essex.
All candidates have to be in place by May 11 – but most of the activity will be focussed on the party’s target seats which in this region are Ipswich and Waveney. Campaigning is expected to get under way in earnest once the county council elections are over on Thursday.