Tories in safe seat that includes some Fenland villages set to decide new candidate
CONSERVATIVES in South West Norfolk will next month decide their candidate to try to succeed Christopher Fraser as local MP. The constituency includes many Fenland villages.Mr Fraser, who was elected to the safe Tory seat in 2005 with a majority of more
CONSERVATIVES in South West Norfolk will next month decide their candidate to try to succeed Christopher Fraser as local MP. The constituency includes many Fenland villages.
Mr Fraser, who was elected to the safe Tory seat in 2005 with a majority of more than 10,000, is standing down due to his wife Lisa's ill health - though he has attracted criticism for keeping a �1.2m Dorset farmhouse as his main home and becoming embroiled in the MPs' expenses scandal over spending at his second home at South Lopham, near Diss.
The party run-off looks like being an intriguing contest with one key issue: whether members vote for a local person or someone from outside the area.
Several local politicians have been mentioned as possible candidates, including Breckland Council leader William Nunn, who has already confirmed he would be interested.
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Former Breckland leader Cliff Jordan, West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney and South West
Norfolk Conservative Association agent Ian Sherwood have also been linked with the role.
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It seems certain that a number of would-be MPs from out of the area will also throw their hats into the ring.
In a statement on behalf of the association, Mr Sherwood said they were "extremely pleased with the calibre and number of applications received" so far.
But no further details were revealed and no one from the association was available to comment further last night.
The association's executive council has agreed a timetable for electing the candidate, and officers, executive and the full qualifying membership of the association will be involved in making the decision.
Association officers and a selection panel will select candidates for the executive council to interview on October 10 prior to the full membership meeting on October 24 when a decision should be made.
Mr Sherwood said: "We are very sorry Christopher cannot continue to serve the people of South West Norfolk, which he has done so very well over the last four years.
"We were extremely lucky to find such a hard-working and effective voice for our area in Christopher and he and the association have received many requests asking him to reconsider. However, the situation with his wife has not changed since the early summer and he has no option but not to seek re-adoption."
At the last general election, Mr Fraser, who succeeded Gillian, now Baroness, Shephard, won with a 10,086 majority. On a 62.5pc turnout