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Anger at west Suffolk Tory candidates

PUBLISHED: 11:16 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:52 07 July 2010

Grassroots Tories have demanded a restart of the west Suffolk selection process for a parliamentary candidate amid claims party chiefs had "parachuted" in their favourites at the expense of locals.

Grassroots Tories have demanded a restart of the west Suffolk selection process for a parliamentary candidate amid claims party chiefs had "parachuted" in their favourites at the expense of locals.

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring has announced he is standing down at the next general election after almost 18 years representing the constituency, which has triggered a selection process to choose a new Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate.

But the shortlist of six drawn up by the executive committee of the West Suffolk Conservative Association has left local Tories furious because it does not contain anyone who lives in Suffolk.

Complaints have been sent to Con-servative central office and calls made for the process to be restarted.

Barrister Rachel Hood, who is the chairman of the Save Historic Newmarket Action Group, was one of scores of local people overlooked in the six-strong shortlist.

She said: "There seems to be a groundswell of anger that the residents of west Suffolk are not being given the opportunity to consider even one local candidate. All those other people are being parachuted in.

"A number of people have complained directly to central office and the expectation is that consideration should be given to having a repeat of the process."

Colin Noble, chairman of the local Tory association, and Jane Storey, deputy leader of the county council, were on the original list but neither appeared in the final cut.

Mrs Storey said: "The Conservative party is not served well by always recruiting the same type of people to slot into seats. They should have a broad spectrum and a local feel but it is very difficult to get that when it is so controlled. Colin would have been an excellent candidate but people will not get that opportunity to hear what he had to offer."

Richard Balfe, acting West Suffolk Conservative Association constituency chairman, told the EDP last week that 167 applications had been considered for the vacancy.

"It was quite a hard job but all six would make very good members of parliament, so we're faced with a very good choice. I'm confident whoever they select will be a good MP," he said.

A decision on the six candidates will be made at an open primary at the leisure centre in Mildenhall on January 30. They are: Matthew Hancock, Natalie Elphicke, Anthony Frieze, Sam Gyimah, Sheila Lawlor and Lucille Nicholson.

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