As the 2015 general election approaches, with less than six months to go, Selby and Ainsty’s Parliamentary candidates from the major parties are preparing to face the electorate.
Covering large population centres like Tadcaster and Selby, the constituency has been in the hands of current Conservative MP Nigel Adams since 2010.
Before Mr Adams won the seat with 49.4 per cent of the vote (a majority of 12,265 people - 23.7 per cent of voters) the Labour Party held the majority in 1997, 2001, and 2005.
In May 2015, however, the election in Selby and Ainsty, which had an electoral turnout of 51,728 in 2010 (71.1 per cent of the district’s population), there will be a big difference on the minds of every voter.
There will be five Parliamentary candidates from major national parties, all of whom have the ability to steal the show and a significant number of votes from the two largest parties.
Though there were six candidates last time, since UKIP’s renewed success and a significant change in the Lib Dem’s polling figures, this constituency could be one to watch as the nation’s future is decided in six months’ time.
Although politically there could be a big change, and last time saw a swing of 9.7 per cent from Labour to Conservative, there are common issues continually affecting the area - transport, the economy, health, jobs, education, and planning schemes submitted by housing developers.
This week, Mr Adams and Labour candidate Mark Hayes spoke to the Wetherby News about how they will confront these issues and set out their vision for the area.
See next week’s paper for interviews with more prospective Parliamentary candidates for the Selby and Ainsty constituency.
The current MP for Selby and Ainsty and the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for 2015 is Nigel Adams.
A member of the Conservative Party since the age of 22, Mr Adams, now 48, is a former director of a telecommunications business in Leeds.
He has served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to two Leaders of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Strathclyde and subsequently his successor, Lord Hill of Oareford, from August 2010 to July 2014.
In September 2014 he was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Number 10 Policy Board with responsibility for Economic Affairs.
He said: “When you look at the catastrophic position the country was in in 2010 economically, I think we have made enormous strides in putting Britain back on a secure footing, but the job is by no means finished.
“Locally we have made some really big progress on issues like unemployment, which was my main pledge when I was elected, to work to bring down the unemployment figures.
“I am pleased to say that since 2010 unemployment in my constituency has more than halved and we are on the way to having one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. That is a passion of mine.”
Made redundant early in his working life, Mr Adams then set up his own business and said he can empathise with those in a difficult position.
While focused on employment in particular, he was also involved in involving Selby and Ainsty in important events, including the arrival of the Olympic torch in 2012 and the Tour de France this year.
However, he is also focused on local issues, like the Allerton incinerator and roadworks, that are affecting constituents.
“There has been success in terms of extra cash for roadworks and repairs and this is benefits the whole of North Yorkshire,” he said.
“But I was not pleased when North Yorkshire County Council decided to go ahead with the incinerator at Allerton Park and that was after I lobbied the government to withdraw the funding for that project.”
Though the seat is referred to as a safe Conservative constituency, Mr Adams said there is no such thing as a safe seat in his mind.
Brought up in the area, he also believes in the benefits of being local and knowing the minds of constituents.
He said: “I will be contesting the next election as vigorously as I did in 2010.
“We got one of the biggest swings at the last election and I think part of that was the huge amount of effort we put in for four years prior to the election.
“It is also a huge benefit to be actually from an area, to know it and the people and I don’t take it for granted.
“It is a great privilege to be elected as an MP and I think my record in Parliament in the first term goes some way to showing that.”
The Labour Parliamentary candidate for Selby and Ainsty is Mark Hayes.
Aged 57, Dr Hayes was educated at Sheffield University, where he studied medicine, and he has worked as a doctor since 1981.
He was a GP in Tadcaster from 1986 to 2012 and he now works on the Care Commissioning Group.
He said: “The constituency has been my home for more than 20 years.
“The next election is a really important one and I feel very strongly that the current coalition is on the wrong path.
“Their policies are damaging public services and when you have dismantled them it is very difficult to built them up again. I am running out of a sense of wanting to turn that around.”
As for his chances, Dr Hayes believes he can win what is largely considered to be a strong Conservative seat, and has been since its creation in 1983 aside from Labour wins from 1997 to 2005, with a variety of virtues.
“I don’t think the candidate and the campaign last time expected to win but the base plan we have from that is solid,” he said.
“I am part of the local health system and I think that gives me weight as a candidate and it gives me an opportunity that some other people might not have.
“I think it is your duty really - you have to get out there and stand for the things you believe.”
Though keen to address local issues, Dr Hayes is equally eager to point out national issues, should he be elected.
He said: “I will be campaigning to find out what people’s wants are over the next five months, but the local election is also about government.
“For me in that respect it is about social housing. I would be very keen on making more social housing but making sure it is high quality and green but retained in the capital of the local authority.
“Health is also a real problem.
“We have seen in a sense from the party conferences that there has been a bit of a barter as to who is going to promise the most money.
“One of the questions we should be asking is not how many immigrants are coming to this country but who actually owns this country.
“There are huge tracts of our industry owned by foreign governments. Why can’t out government own it?”
And though he has his eye on these important national issues, Dr Hayes wants to encourage community involvement and a devolution of powers to local authority, following a popular current trend in political thought since the Scottish referendum.
“One of the best things about the Scottish referendum was the involvement.
“Next time round in Britain it isn’t impossible that we might have a coalition of three parties. Who knows what the numbers will be?
“In many respects it is a really key election that will decide how the country goes for more than then next five years, it will set us on a path.
“Devolution is really important and there are different flavours of what it might look like.
“We have had a concentration of power in Westminster for the past 20 years, but I have a huge respect for local authority members.
“On a daily and weekly basis I deal with councillors and if you give them more power and financial authority I think you would find they would deal with that really well.”