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Jesse Norman bookies choice to hold Hereford
3:32pm Tuesday 1st April 2014 in News
THIRTEEN months still remain until the next general election but bookmakers Ladbrokes have already called the Hereford and South Herefordshire seat a one-horse race.
Jesse Norman MP is the heavy favourite to win again, at 1/16 on, with Liberal Democrat candidate Lucy Hurds second in the list at 7/1.
Of the outside bets, UKIP’s Kip Waistell (50/1) leads Labour (100/1).
But Labour spokesman Richard Costello insists: “May 2015 could be a bad time for the bookies in Herefordshire.
"Labour will be fighting hard to win across the country.”
Mr Norman will be hoping the bookies have backed the right man.
He was reselected by the local Conservative association last year, and promises to fight to finish the “serious, long-term work” he started in 2010.
His priorities remain in levelling the playing field when it comes to the “chronic underfunding” of Herefordshire’s public services, and supporting local business through projects like the Hereford’s Enterprise Zone.
Mr Norman – who last year received national attention for his contrary positions over Syria and the House of Lords Bill – said: “We've made real progress since 2010.
“We won one of the first fast rural broadband projects, we won one of the first Enterprise Zones and the Department for Education recently raised per pupil funding for schools by well above the rate of inflation.
“I will be seeking re-election in 2015 so that we can push forward to the next stage.”
Part of that will be a continued focus on healthcare in the county.
Mr Norman was vocal in his opposition of a policy that would have forced constituents to use Welsh hospitals, and has also supported Hereford County Hospital’s resistance to a merger.
"Healthcare has been a huge priority for me,” he added.
According to Ladbrokes, his biggest challenge will come from Ms Hurds, who stood in North Herefordshire four years ago.
And she believes time, and local support, is on her side.
Ms Hurds said: “It is said that a week is a long time in politics so a year is a lifetime.
“I hope the people of Herefordshire will by then feel they would be well represented by local Liberal Democrats who understand the unique challenges that Herefordshire faces."
Going against Bill Wiggin MP in 2010, Ms Hurds was able to boost the Lib Dem vote by around five percent, but failed to make any real inroads in what is a considered a ‘safe’ Conservative constituency.
However, historically the Hereford and South Herefordshire area is more open, with Mr Norman winning back the seat following 13 years of Lib Dem control.
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