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What the candidates say

PUBLISHED: 15:58 21 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

The polling stations for the Ipswich by-election are due to open at 7am tomorrow. On the eve of poll today, Political Editor PAUL GEATER looks at the runners and riders in the race for Ipswich's seat at Westminster.

The polling stations for the Ipswich by-election are due to open at 7am tomorrow. On the eve of poll today, Political Editor PAUL GEATER looks at the runners and riders in the race for Ipswich's seat at Westminster.

Dave Cooper – Christian People's Alliance.

MR Cooper is a full-time charity worker and former deputy headteacher at Cliff Lane. He is 54 and a former leading Liberal Democrat – he resigned from that party over its support for lowering the age of consent for gay people.

The party is fairly new, and seeks to bring a Christian perspective to British politics.

Mr Cooper said his main aim was to work with the people of Ipswich to help represent them in the House of Commons.

"None of the major parties take people seriously, my heart is for the people of Ipswich. I want people to raise their concerns with us in the town centre and on the doorsteps and then I promise we will do our very best to respond to people's needs and concerns," he said.

He lives in Ipswich and is married with two children.

Peter Leech – Socialist Alliance.

THE only candidate from June's general election to have another tilt at the seat, the 64-year-old retired builder is happy about his reception on the streets of the town.

Mr Leech said a key issue for his supporters during the campaign had been the war in Afghanistan.

"There was a lot of concern about that, especially in the early days of the campaign," he said. "But people are also concerned about issues like privatisation and bringing in private money for things like the fire service.

"We had a meeting with Paul Foot which went very well, and have been getting a lot of support from trades unionists," he said.

Mr Leech is a widower and lives in Ipswich.

Chris Mole – Labour.

THE 43-year-old leader of Suffolk County Council has enjoyed a high-profile campaign in his attempt to hold on to the seat won by Jamie Cann at the last three General Elections.

He said people seemed keen for Labour to continue their work of the last four and a half years.

"I think we have had a fantastic campaign. I have had a very warm response from people who know who I am and saying that they value the fact that I am a local candidate to carry on the great work of Jamie Cann," he said.

He was not worried about being "swallowed up" by the 412 other Labour MPs in the House of Commons.

"What would be best for Ipswich would be being represented by a Labour MP with a Labour government, a Labour borough council and a county council with a strong Labour presence," he said.

Mr Mole is married and lives in Ipswich.

Tessa Munt – Liberal Democrat.

A 42-year-old legal executive, Mrs Munt is fighting her second parliamentary campaign of the year – she challenged Tim Yeo in South Suffolk in June.

Her campaign has focussed on public services, and especially on the treatment of pensioners in the town.

She has been backed up by an army of high-profile support from party MPs – more than half of the party's 52 MPs have visited the town during the campaign.

LibDem leader Charles Kennedy and Home Office spokesman Simon Hughes have both been to Ipswich twice during the campaign.

"I am very pleased at the response we have seen during the election campaign, and we are looking for a big surprise for many people on Thursday night," she said.

Mrs Munt lives in Sudbury and has three children.

John Ramirez – Legalise Cannabis Alliance.

A STUDENT and musician, Mr Ramirez, 36, has lived in Suffolk since his early childhood – and was a pupil at St. Joseph's College.

"As the Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate for Ipswich, it is my intent to help dispel the false myths concerning cannabis.

"By educating people about the facts behind cannabis, the resourcefulness of the plant and its associated by-products, we offer people the chance to make informed and rational decisions about its usage."

He welcomes the decision of the Home Secretary to reduce cannabis from being a Class B to a Class C drug as a step in the right direction.

And he was especially encouraged that his campaign was striking a chord with young voters.

"They have been coming up and saying they don't usually bother to vote, but this is an issue that has caught their eye," he said.

Mr Ramirez is married and lives in Ipswich.

Tony Slade – Green Party.

A VETERAN of several election campaigns, 57-year-old Mr Slade's finest moment came in the 1989 European Election when he snatched third place in Suffolk ahead of the newly-merged Liberal Democrats.

His campaign has focused on the idea that "small is beautiful" – and the problem of small businesses in the area.

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan has been a key plank to his party's campaign, and the threat of terrorist attack on nuclear installations has turned the spotlight back on the Sizewell Power Stations.

"We have been getting a good response from people, we think it is important to keep the issues in the public eye," he said.

"There was a very good meeting with Margaret Wright, one of our national speakers – and there is a very good understanding of Green issues in this part of the country," he said.

Mr Slade hoped that the by-election would provide a good springboard for the next European election, due to be held in 2004.

He is separated and lives in Tattingstone.

Paul West – Conservative.

A FORMER leader of the Conservative group on Ipswich, 32-year-old Mr West has fought an energetic campaign stressing his local roots.

He was born in the town and went to school in Claydon before working for Willis Corroon and then setting up his own property management business.

The main issues he has identified are problems with public services in the town – especially bed-blocking at Ipswich Hospital and schools with no space for pupils living in their catchment area.

He has also focussed on problems with transport in the town, especially congestion on the roads into the town centre and the lack of car parking spaces.

"It has been a very good campaign, and it has been important to have a local candidate who can identify with the problems faced by local people," he said.

"After some difficult general elections in the town, I really think that the Conservatives are on the way back in Ipswich.

Nicholas Winskill – English Independence Party.

A 40-year-old clerical worker, Mr Winskill is the first member of the English Independence Party to contest a parliamentary election in Ipswich.

The party campaigns for England to have its own parliament, similar to Scotland and Wales – and eventually to be independent of the other countries of the United Kingdom.

He is single and lives in Salisbury in Wiltshire.

Jonathan Wright – UK Independence Party.

TAKING over the UKIP mantle from doughty fighter Bill Vinyard is 44-year-old medical specialist Jonathan Wright.

The party's main aim is to take Britain out of the European Union and to spend the money saved on hospitals, schools, pensions, and other public services.

UKIP has done well in East Anglia in previous elections – it surprised the major parties by winning one of the Eastern region's seats in the European elections two years ago.

Mr Wright's campaign has been boosted by a visit from party leader Jeffrey Titford, the party's Eastern region MEP.

He fought the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat at the General Election in June.

Mr Wright is single and lives in Ipswich.

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