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Battle lines drawn as political parties vye for Great Yarmouth seat

PUBLISHED: 06:47 08 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:04 08 August 2014

Labour PPC Lara Norris outside her new drop in office in Great Yarmouth

Labour PPC Lara Norris outside her new drop in office in Great Yarmouth


Battle lines are being drawn in Great Yarmouth as political parties vying for power step up their game.

UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew's new Yarmouth office on Regent Street.

Picture: James BassUKIP MEP Stuart Agnew's new Yarmouth office on Regent Street. Picture: James Bass

With the general election nine months away and 13 Great Yarmouth Borough Council seats up for grabs next spring, both UKIP and Labour increased their presence in the town this week.

UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew opened a constituency office in Regent Street on Monday, and described Yarmouth as his national party’s “number two target” behind Boston and Skegness.

Labour prospective parliamentary candidate Lara Norris has opened a ‘drop-in shop’ and campaign headquarters in Greyfriars Way while, two weeks ago, Conservative MP Brandon Lewis took on new premises which will act as his election office in Battery Road.

Mr Agnew, who was re-elected as a Euro MP in June, said his UKIP-branded office in the town centre “could make all the difference” for the party after it showed strength in May’s borough council election, taking 10 seats.

There remains speculation over whether party leader Nigel Farage will stand in Yarmouth, despite local members voicing preference for a local candidate. Former would-be MP Matthew Smith stepped down two weeks ago, after denying charges of electoral fraud at Norwich Crown Court in ongoing proceedings.

Mr Agnew said UKIP’s rise in Yarmouth was the reason he had moved his office from Chelmsford to the coast.

“I decided to come here as a result of the election results in May,” he said.

“Yarmouth has the kind of social problems that is causing people to abandon the two main parties and come to us. This is our number two target.

“We’re looking for a prospective parliamentary candidate and that decision will be made by the local branch. Parachuting someone in is always a risk, but sometimes it’s a risk that pays off.”

He hoped the preferred candidate would be revealed within the next six weeks, but added “it should not be rushed”.

Cllr Adrian Myers, spokesman for the Yarmouth UKIP group, told the Mercury the party’s recent success was precisely because of local connections and members want to see someone with existing community links fight for the Parliament seat.

Labour’s Lara Norris agreed that whoever stands it will be hard fought on the ground.

She said: “One of the things we’re very aware off is that we don’t have the financial prospects that the other groups are going to have. But we signed the lease on the shop back in January because we wanted to show people the kind of difference we can make, and what I would do as an MP.”

As well as being Labour’s campaign HQ, Miss Norris said the drop-in shop was a politically neutral resource for residents - open to anyone seeking advice or support on problems ranging from homelessness to unemployment.

“I know from being out in the community how much people are struggling,” she added.

Mr Lewis said: “Having the three-way fight makes it more interesting, plus the local elections, but it doesn’t change things for me. You fight hard at every election. But, for me, it’s about what you do in those four or five years between. Our campaign is going to focus on what we’ve achieved and what we can carry on achieving.”

The Liberal Democrats will also have a candidate standing in the “keenly contested” borough said Denys Robinson, campaign chair for North Norfolk and Great Yarmouth Liberal Democrats.

No one from the Green party was available to comment.


  • By your standards Nick, you are saying that we must not have anybody new in local politics as they "haven't done anything", regardless of the fact that they may never have had the opportunity to do so in the first place. Are you happy with the same old rubbish going on in the council chambers year after year? Clearly you must be. As Spooky points out, the Conservative and Labour groups actually voted together to keep UKIP from taking any committee positions where they perhaps could have done more than their councillors already are doing for their ward residents. Maybe you should engage with the new councillors to find out what they are up to? Bringing Tony Wright up as an example of doing good for the town is laughable; he who claimed thousands in expenses he wasn't entitled to and then only paying a small portion of it back!

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    Alex Monk

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • It could possibly be that UKIP haven't been allowed to do anything, after all, since the local elections they have been frozen out by the LabCon lot.

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    Saturday, August 9, 2014

  • Wow Nick, when did you last go down a local pub? All Ukip are doing is to mirror what 90% of people are saying there. Personalities aside, one good thing that UKIP have done is to make the other 3 parties listen a bit more to the concerns of local people, rather than adopt a "we know best" attitude. Take immigration for example...previously the arguments were about the good points and the bad points. To be "For" it was to be "European" and to be "against" it was to be "racist" But only recently have politicians been able to start to understand concerns about MASS immigration, and how it can affect local populations. We all live in a democracy and can vote for whom we want, but don't go scaremongering until you read ALL the parties manifestos in time for next May

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    Friday, August 8, 2014

  • Who's done what for GY? Well for a start I can't think of anything positive coming from UKIP! Our last MP, Tony Wright did a lot for the town. The present MP, Brandon Lewis has also demonstrated his commitment and has been very active. So do we vote for a government in Westminster, or do we vote for a constituent MP? The choices now are Lara Norris, who would probably be a good local MP, Brandon Lewis is clearly heading for greater things but would still make a reasonable choice. Then we have UKIP. Now this is what I fail to understand, Tell me what if anything this group has ever done for GY? It's clear to me they are simple riding on the crest of the wave of dissatisfaction of public opinion. Nothing whatever will come from them if they are voted in! This is NOT what is needed here.

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    Friday, August 8, 2014

  • The so called labour party exists to look after the interests of the British working classes, it has no other purpose. This so called labour party does no such thing, it is treacherous from the ground up.

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    John Bridge

    Friday, August 8, 2014

  • It would a be pretty amusing story but for the fact that it's possible that a minority group such as UKIP might even have a chance. The whole history and future of Great Yarmouth lies in having good links to the continent. Here we are at a strategic point on the coast, Closer to the industrial areas of Holland and Germany than many parts of the UK. Still with the possibility of a new ferry. Just up the road we have Norwich which is rapidly being transformed into a major city and which will undoubtedly also require freight capability and closer links to those same areas on the continent, a mere 5 hours away by fast ferry ! That anyone could vote for somebody who is diametrically opposed to any such closer links is unbelievable! The ONLY way GY is going to stop being at 'the end of the road' is to engage fully with Europe.

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    Friday, August 8, 2014

  • Is the EDP sure that Lewis has moved to 'Battery Road' ?

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    Friday, August 8, 2014

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