Queues at Norwich polling stations to decide future of two key seats
- Credit: Steve Adams
Queues have been forming at polling stations around Norwich tonight, as voters eagerly prepare to cast their vote in the most unpredictable election for a generation.
About 50 people queued outside the Jessopp Road station tonight, with some saying they waited up to half an hour for their moment in the booth.
The area falls in Norwich South, a three-way marginal seat covering the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Former Norwich South MP Simon Wright, from the Liberal Democrats, will be battling Labour's Clive Lewis and Green's Lesley Grahame for the seat.
Harriett Jones, 22, a UEA post-graduate student, said: 'It's so important to vote - I'm a first time voter this year and I wouldn't have missed it. I don't mind waiting here at all - it shows how good the turn out is.'
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Jayne Chambers, 43, who works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: 'I have voted in every election I've been able to - my mum always told me how important it was.
'It's great to see queues here - it does seem like more people are interested this time around.'
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It was a scene echoed across the county, with queues building at UEA, Costessey, King Street in Norwich, Attleborough and in Hethersett.
The latest national polls show the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck and seats across East Anglia could be key to deciding the outcome.
Liberal Democrat Simon Wright is battling to save his seat in Norwich South against Labour's Clive Lewis and Lesley Grahame from the Greens.
In Norwich North Conservative Chloe Smith is hoping to hold her seat against Jessica Asato from Labour.
Outcome unpredictable here as anywhere
For some of the candidates, polling day will be a formality. They will return to Westminster to resume their careers as MPs.
For others, despite years of campaigning, they remain uncertain about their fate for the next five years.
There will be a last dash to try to persuade the undecided voters, and get their supporters to the polling stations.
Each of the parties has set out its stall on the issues which, time and again, voters say concern them – the NHS, immigration, the economy, education.
This is all against a backdrop of an ever increasing debt pile, which has framed a debate about whether we continue with austerity, or if there is another option.
The national policies failed to move the polls significantly, meaning parties of all shades have seen the ground war as more important than ever.
In the closely fought marginals, armies of activists have been out on the streets, at public meetings, backing campaigns and hoping that they can gradually win over people vote by vote.
Roads are adorned with signs of all shades, and online, where the Facebook, Twitter, email campaign is increasingly important, politicians are also urging people they have the better vision for the country.
The usual frenzy of visits has also ensued. Political big names have come to join the campaign trail, to meet businesses – all in the hope that the photocall or the handshake could win over those all-important swing voters.
It has been an election that has captured the imagination.
Like no election before, everybody you speak to has a different view on what the outcome will be.
The national seven party leader debate characterised just how fragmented UK politics has become.
And this national story of multi-party politics is evident in our region: the straight Conservative versus Labour fights in Norwich North and Waveney; Liberal Democrats fiercely fighting a campaign which has seen them having to defend a record having gone into coalition; and the rise of the minor parties – the UK Independence Party and the Green Party both have targets in this region.
For the minor parties more than anyone, it is the campaign on the ground that they believe is the key to victory. And, of course, there's the Scottish National Party.
We cannot vote for the Scottish nationalists here, yet what is happening north of the border is likely to be key to who lives in Number 10.
It is hard to predict what the impact of a rise in support for these previously minor parties will be.
Which of the main parties' votes are they taking and, if they win seats, with whom will they form alliances?
While the campaign has felt like a long one, and people may be sick of the sight of politicians and many column inches of speculation, there is a genuine excitement, and fear, about what the parliamentary arithmetic will produce tomorrow morning.
In our marginal seats the candidates will be hoping they have done enough to get them over the line.
Careers hinge on whether a few hundred people turn out and vote and whether the undecideds can be persuaded to either stick with what they know, or take a punt on a change.
It has been said time and again. But it really is one of the most unpredictable elections for many years.
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