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Ipswich by election campaign hots up

PUBLISHED: 14:06 12 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott was in bullish mood as he met Labour members to boost the Party's by-election campaign in Ipswich today.

Mr Prescott was in town to support Labour candidate Chris Mole in the campaign to succeed the late Jamie Cann at Westminster.

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott was in bullish mood as he met Labour members to boost the Party's by-election campaign in Ipswich today.

Mr Prescott was in town to support Labour candidate Chris Mole in the campaign to succeed the late Jamie Cann at Westminster.

After meeting party members at campaign headquarters in Fore Street, Mr Prescott did a short walkabout in the town centre.

He wasn't the only leading politician in Ipswich today – Conservative Party Chairman David Davis was only a few yards away hearing about problems with the health service in the town.

And Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow was visiting elderly people to explain his party's policies to improve their lives.

Mr Prescott said it was vital for the government that Ipswich returned another Labour MP.

"We were very pleased to win Ipswich so well in June with such a good MP as Jamie, and very sorry to lose him. But we are sure Chris will be able to carry on his good work."

Mr Prescott was launching a new version of Labour's "Pledge Card" focussing specifically on local issues.

The card has five specific pledges for the town: More police, extra health staff, a good school for every child in Ipswich, making Ipswich a thriving place, and making transport in and around the town easier.

"We kept our promises in the first four years of the Labour Government, and the people rewarded that by giving us another big majority," Mr Prescott said.

"We want to continue the work for the next four years, and to continue the work here in Ipswich with Chris as MP."

Mr Prescott told the Evening Star that it was vital that new investment should continue in areas like health and education.

"These are key issues for the government and here in Ipswich, we want to improve key governments services, which were cut back during the Tory years.

"The only alternative would be the Conservatives who want to cut back services like health and education by £20 billion."

Mr Prescott went on to make an additional brief stop on the Cornhill.

One of those to meet Mr Prescott was scooter salesman Nour Alaineh, 19, of Norwich Road.

"He asked me about the scooters and if they were selling well. He was a nice bloke" he said.

Mr Prescott also posed for pictures with Chris Mole and deputy mayor Don Edwards.

Mr Davis met officials including Liz Pawsey from carers' agency Classic Care, to talk about problems associated with "bedblocking" at Ipswich Hospital.

"This has been caused by failures of Suffolk County Council to help the situation – and Mr Mole is leader of the council," said Mr Davis.

"Ipswich deserves better than that, and this election is very important to us," he said.

The Conservatives had moved away from the agenda of simply seeking to cut public spending.

"We are looking at different solutions to delivering health and education services – we are looking at new ways of delivering the services people need," he said.

There were specific solutions to local problems, Mr Davis added. Ipswich Conservative candidate Paul West said voters in the constituency were especially keen on electing someone prepared to fight for the town in Westminster.

Getting the political ball rolling today was Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam and the party's spokesman on care for the elderly.

He visited residents of sheltered accommodation in Newnham Court to explain his party's policy of introducing free personal care – home help and other non-nursing services – for the elderly.

"It is something the Liberal Democrats have introduced in Scotland as part of the administration there and we feel should be extended to the rest of the country," he said.

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