Labour leader plans Lowestoft and Yarmouth mini-break to woo voters
- Credit: Labour Party
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer is planning a three-day mini-break in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth to try to find out how the resorts tick and how his party could win them back at the next general election.
During a wide-ranging interview about Suffolk and Norfolk issues, he said he had found a three-day visit to Ipswich in the summer useful to gauge the mood of politics in the town, and would like to repeat the exercise on the coast.
He said it was much more useful than a short two-hour visit that politicians usually make to an area.
Sir Keir said he knew there was a major challenge to win back votes in seats like Waveney and Great Yarmouth which Labour held between 1997 and 2010 - but which saw Tory majorities of 18,000 and 17,000 two years ago.
He said: "I'd like to come to that area to see what people want, what we can offer them - and get to really know the issues."
He says he knows the party needed to attract more rural voters adding: "I am talking regularly to the National Farmers' Union about the really serious issues facing the rural economy.
"We are seeing real problems for food producers with staff shortages and other issues. We have to work with them and show they are as relevant to us as urban voters."
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Sir Keir has expressed support for plans to build a third nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast at Sizewell - and the jobs it would bring to the area - as well as to the area's development as the "energy coast."
However he said the developers should be made to show that there were clear long-term benefits to local communities with new infrastructure projects to boost business and lifestyles generally.
He also said there should be action to ensure that as much of the labour and materials came from local sources as possible: "It is important that the local area gets as much benefit as possible from a major development like this."
He was also concerned that while the East Anglian coast was becoming a major source of renewable power, too much of the infrastructure - especially the turbines themselves - were manufactured abroad.
He said: "A very small proportion of the turbine blades are actually made in this country and we really do need to develop a strategy to ensure that we can manufacture this as well as operate it."