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Countdown on to elections

14:30 08 April 2010

The runners and riders for local borough council elections are now at the starting gate after nominations closed today at midday.

Although announced after The Mercury went to press, both Labour and Conservative are expected to go into battle with seven seats each making it difficult to assess the impact - if any - on the balance of power.

The runners and riders for local borough council elections are now at the starting gate after nominations closed today at midday.

Although announced after The Mercury went to press, both Labour and Conservative are expected to go into battle with seven seats each making it difficult to assess the impact - if any - on the balance of power.

With the ruling Tory group holding 24 of the 39 seats it would take a huge upset to unseat them at the polls on May 6.

Meanwhile candidates in the parliamentary election were launching their election campaigns on the overcast streets of Great Yarmouth, with leafleting and letter drops hoping to woo the borough's 70,000 voters,

Nominations for the general election close on April 20, which is also the last day to register to vote by post or in person at one of the borough's 34 polling stations.

Pundits predict that a 4pc swing to the conservatives in Yarmouth would see a hung parliament with a 6 to 7pc swing in Waveney- a key seat - resulting in the Tories being able to form their own Government,

In the next few weeks the town can expect some big names dropping in and plenty of activity on the doorsteps. But local debate is likely to be overshadowed by national issues strewn across the political battlefield as the big guns are rolled out.

In 1997, MP Tony Wright ousted Conservative Michael Carttiss from the seat he had held for 14 years with a majority of 8,668.

In 2005 he saw his lead cut to 3,055 against Conservative Mark Fox.

In the last 30 years, voter apathy has been a big opponent for all the parties with turnout gradually dipping from 77.5pc in 1979 - the year Margaret Thatcher came to power - to a low of 58.52pc in 2001.

The 13 local wards represent a third of the borough council, with one additional seat vacant due to the death of Dick Barker who held the Claydon ward seat for Labour.

They are:

Bradwell North

Graham Plant (Con)

Bradwell South and Hopton

Mike Butcher (Con)

Caister North

Tony Smith (Con)

Caister South

Pat Hacon (Lab)

Central and Northgate

Mick Castle (Lab)

Claydon

Bernard Williamson (Lab) and Dick Barker - deceased (Lab)

East Flegg

Shirley Weymouth, (Con)

Gorleston

John Burroughs (Con)

Lothingland

Barry Stone (Con)

Magdalen

Karen Hewitt (Con)

Nelson

Val Pettit (Lab)

Southtown and Cobholm

John Holmes (Lab)

Yarmouth North

Robert Peck (Con)

Parliamentary election votes cast on May 6 will be counted that night with the result due by 4am. Votes cast in the borough council election will not be counted until the next day, with the winners declared by 2pm.

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