Battle lines have been drawn in the race to become Ashfield and Eastwood’s new member of parliament as the heated campaign for next month’s general election comes to a head.
Six hopefuls have thrown their hat in the ring to replace Gloria De Piero, who announced she would be stepping down from the role in the summer.
Ashfield has proved to be one of the most interesting political seats in the country, with commentators from national and international media outlets visiting the district in the last two weeks.
Labour won the election in 2017 with one of the country’s smallest majorities, 441, with Ms De Piero tightly holding onto the seat ahead of Conservative candidate Councillor Tony Harper.
But Brexit has taken over the political airwaves during the last three-and-a-half years, and Ashfield’s 69 per cent leave vote will certainly have an influence on how the election pans out.
Party-political loyalty often plays a key role in deciding general elections, but Ashfield is also in the unique position of having an independent candidate with control over the district council.
With less than three weeks to go until the December 12 election, your Chad has spoken to each candidate about why they should be your next MP.
COUNCILLOR JASON ZADROZNY, ASHFIELD INDEPENDENTS
Councillor Jason Zadrozny is leader of Ashfield District Council and will represent the Ashfield Independents in the election.
He said: “Last time I stood in a General Election in Ashfield and Eastwood, I was only 192 votes behind Labour. This election is set to be just as close.
“Some bookies have the Ashfield Independents as favourites but polling shows only a few votes could separate Labour and myself. The Conservatives have not won here since before I was born.
“I am the only candidate who voted and campaigned to Leave who can beat Labour. I will support Brexit at the earliest opportunity.
“But this election is about much more – I’m the only candidate who has a track record of delivering for our towns and villages.
“I’ll campaign to wipe out the debt at King’s Mill Hospital, and for investment in Nottingham City Hospital.
“I will continue my fight to make the area safer, and for our fair share of police resources.
“Residents face a clear choice: Either more of the same under Labour or myself. No other result is possible.”
COUNCILLOR LEE ANDERSON, CONSERVATIVES
Councillor Lee Anderson, who once represented Labour for Huthwaite and Brierley on Ashfield District Council, is standing for the Conservatives.
He said: “I’m Ashfield born and bred, having lived in our area for 50 years. I’m a former miner, factory and charity worker.
“We need to get Brexit done – so we can move on and invest in our public services. Only a majority Conservative government and Boris Johnson can make this happen.
“Labour’s second referendum plans are just a kick in the teeth for the 70.5 percent of Ashfield residents who voted to leave in 2016.
“And at the last General Election in 2017, the Conservatives were only 441 votes behind Labour – with over 40 percent of the vote each.
“The Ashfield Independents got just over nine per cent. They’re too far behind.
“So it’s a straight choice between Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour candidate and me, the Conservative candidate, this time around.
“Join the army of residents voting Conservative on Thursday December 12 to get Brexit done – so we can invest in our NHS, schools and police.”
NATALIE FLEET, LABOUR
Natalie Fleet, an avid pro-union candidate, is bidding to retain Ashfield for the Labour Party.
She said: “I was born in Sutton. The men in my family worked down the pit, the women in the textile factories.
“By the time I was sixteen, the Tories had destroyed both industries, our community was in ruin and I was a teenage mum, living on the Leamington Estate.
“Today, once again, the Tories are tearing apart our community. Our schools are appallingly underfunded and our NHS is in ruin.
“Like you, my family rely on these services. My children attend local schools and I see class sizes rising and friends unable to find a school place for their kids.
“Like you we have to wait to see local GPs and I was helpless as my Nana died on an overcrowded, understaffed ward at Kings Mill Hospital.
“I will tell them how it is. I will never forget where I have come from. I will never be Westminster’s voice in Ashfield. I’ll be your voice in Westminster.”
MARTIN DAUBNEY MEP, THE BREXIT PARTY
Martin Daubney is an MEP for the East Midlands and the former editor of magazine Loaded, and he is representing the Brexit Party.
He said: “As an MEP for the Brexit Party, I’m the only candidate in Ashfield who is fighting “inside the belly of the beast” of Brussels to get the UK out of the European Union.
“Since being elected in May, I have directly spoken out against the EU’s top bogeymen, including Guy Verhofstadt, Michel Barnier and Jean Claude Juncker.
“I’ve exposed billions of euros wastage in EU budgets and repeatedly called out the undemocratic nature of this sham parliament.
“With the same uncompromising honesty, now I want to fight for Ashfield, a 70 percent Leave seat that has been completely betrayed by the Remain establishment, and especially Labour, the party I supported all my life until recently.
“Previously a journalist and broadcaster for 25 years I’m one of the UK’s most passionate Brexiteers.
“I’m a local lad made good: my mum, a retired special needs teacher, has lived in Eastwood for 21 years and my dad was a coal miner for 47 years.”
ROSE WOODS, THE GREEN PARTY
Councillor Rose Woods currently sits on Eastwood Town Council and is standing for the Green Party in the election.
She said: “I’ve lived in Eastwood for more than a decade and experienced first-hand the issues the constituents of Ashfield face. I am on Eastwood Town Council, having previously served on Kimberley Town Council.
“People of Ashfield should be able to have someone who lives in the area and knows the problems they face.
“Areas like Ashfield face a number of difficulties due to poor infrastructure where public transport and local services appear to be nothing more than an afterthought when planning decisions are made.
“Local people should be able to have the final say on decisions that affect local services which have a direct impact on them.
“While I am a steadfast Remainer I support a people’s vote to break this deadlock that we seem to be in.
“Brexit has paralysed our current government to the point where it cannot deal with other crises such as climate change or the problems facing our underfunded NHS.”
BECKY WAIN, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
Becky Wain is a pro-EU candidate who will be representing the Liberal Democrats in the election.
She said: “I am pleased to be representing Ashfield as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the upcoming General Election.
“I want to offer you a commitment to work hard to build a brighter future for all residents and remove the inequalities in society.
“We need to work together to ensure that our communities are safe, supported and that everyone can live a life free from fear, neglect and poverty.
“High on my list of priorities are equality, education, climate change, human rights and tackling the issues which matter to you the most.
“I believe that we should not leave the European Union because of the economic damage it will do in making us poorer and more isolated from our neighbours. Let’s change direction and build bridges not walls.”