Region's new MPs prepare for life in Westminster

While the General Election failed to produce an outright winner, it did yield many new MPs, particularly across the eastern region who will shortly be making their debuts in the House of Commons.

While the General Election failed to produce an outright winner, it did yield many new MPs, particularly across the eastern region who will shortly be making their debuts in the House of Commons. Today, EDP reporters asked some of the new political faces in the region how they are preparing for the challenge of life in Westminster.

Great Yarmouth's Conservative MP Brandon Lewis has wasted no time getting started in his new political role.

Mr Lewis, who polled 18,571 to see off Labour's Tony Wright with a decisive 8.7pc swing, attended a local business breakfast just three hours after the count finished at 5am on Friday and had just one hour's sleep before attending returning to Yarmouth town hall for the borough council results.

Mr Lewis, who lives with his family in Hemsby, near Yarmouth, said that he will be setting up a local base as well as representing his constituency in Westminster.

“I will have a local office and will be holding surgeries, as well as regular public meetings around the constituency,” he said.

The 38-year-old, who has worked in business since he left school and is a barrister, has already campaigned for improvements to the town's railway station and said his priorities as the new MP include supporting the new outer harbour and the bid to bring offshore wind-related industries and jobs to Yarmouth.

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Mr Lewis' updates on social networking website Twitter said he was spending a quiet weekend with his family. “I look forward to representing everyone in Great Yarmouth, regardless of their political views,” he said.

As well as replying to many messages of support, he said that updating his details on various websites to confirm his election as MP “feels very surreal.”

Elizabeth Truss, whose election victory continued the Tory grip on South West Norfolk, is expecting a busy first few days as a new MP.

Like other new MPs, she has been summoned to a meeting tonightat Westminster and then expects to be involved in the next few days in the induction and training process.

But while she will be busy at Westminster, Miss Truss is also anxious to get things moving in her constituency with setting up an office, probably in Thetford, and recruiting staff.

While she has been spending time over the weekend with her family at Downham Market, she did find time to make a trip into King's Lynn on Saturday to source and buy a new laptop.

She attended a celebration event at the Conservative Club at Downham on Friday evening where there was some useful feedback from consitituents.

She also has domestic arrangements to deal with and is currently renting a property in Downham Market, the town where she hopes to make her permanent home.

“I am keen to get my constituency office up and running and by the end of next week hope to announce my first public meetings and surgeries. I have a number of issues to deal with that came up the during election campaign.

“It is important to have a local office where people can come with their issues and raise specific problems they have,” she said.

She is very much believes that the voice of local people should be taken into account in the forming of new legislation. Miss Truss feels that this general election has seen much greater interest by the public as has the current 'hung parliament' situation.

After spending the weekend with his wife and children at his Norfolk home, new Tory Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman may well find himself sleeping on a couple of sofa beds in London during the next few nights.

Mr Freeman, who stormed to victory with a massive 13,856 majority, has along with other new MPs been summoned to a meeting tonight at Westminster.

“I will probably sleep on my best friend's sofa bed and then may move onto my brother's sofa bed for a few nights while I am on London,” said Mr Freeman.

He welcomes a new induction scheme for first time MPs and expects to be involved in that in the next couple of days.

He is aware of the need, as well as getting to grips with the ways of Westminster to sort out things in his new constituency and he is actively seeking premises, probably in Dereham, where he can establish an office base for the new Mid Norfolk constituency.

“I am looking at renting some vacant office space on Dereham High Street, so if anyone knows of anywhere I would be happy to hear from them. I feel it is important that my new office will be located where it is easily accessible to the constituents.

Referring to the negotiations continuing in London over the future of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr Freeman said: “I think both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have struck exactly the right note in seeking a serious arrangement which puts the national interest first”.

He said he listened to Gordon Brown on the radio.“I couldn't help thinking that he is treating the British electorate with the same dismissive contempt he showed Mrs Duffy in Rochdale when he was overheard referring to her as a “bigoted woman”.

Waveney's new Conservative MP Peter Aldous will be heading to London first thing this morning to start his political career.

Mr Aldous, who ousted Labour's Bob Blizzard with just over 40pc of votes, spent this weekend unwinding after weeks of hectic campaigning.

The 48-year-old, who lives in Wissett near Halesworth, said that Friday had passed “in a bit of a blur” after being declared MP at about 5.30am following the count in Lowestoft, where he beat Mr Blizzard, who had been MP for 13 years, by 769 votes.

“I've had a lot of very kind messages of support so have spent time replying to all of those. First thing on Monday I'll be going to London to really start getting everything sorted.

“I need to get an office set up so I can start dealing with all the inquiries and issues which local people have already raised with me. My head is spinning a bit with all the issues already, but I can't wait to get started,” he said.

He said that once he has set the ball rolling in London, he is going to spend as much time as he can in the constituency so that people know he has a strong local presence.

“I will be in Waveney as much as possible, but I know I need to get to London quickly on Monday to make sure I have all the administrative procedures in place so I can start work properly.”

After spending weeks knocking on doors and meeting voters before the election, Mr Aldous said he had kept his diary free from polling day onwards “as a sort of superstition”.

“I think the reality of being the MP will really hit me when I get to Westminster, it's quite an adventure,” he added.

New Norwich South MP, Liberal Democrat Simon Wright will be sworn in as MP a week tomorrow, by which time the exact role his Liberal Democrat party will play in governing the country ought to be clearer.

The picture may be confused at the moment, but that is unlikely to hinder Mr Wright as he prepares to take his seat in the House of Commons and press ahead with his duties as MP.

There was little time for him to reflect on his victory over Labour's Charles Clarke before he found himself in London on Saturday with other Lib Dems for a meeting with leader Nick Clegg to discuss a power-sharing offer from the Conservatives.

He will be spending a lot more time in the capital over the next few days for briefings.

Mr Wright said he would continue to operate from the Liberal Democrats' existing base in Europa Way, Norwich, for the time being.

“I'm not going to set up my parliamentary office immediately. The most important thing is to get the right team in place and make sure I get people who will help me to do the best job I can to help and represent people.”

Mr Wright said he would be focusing on getting the A11 dualled and lobbying for rail investment to deliver a decent service from Norwich to London, better broadband for all of Norfolk, education issues and improved bus services.

More than a third of MPs will be newcomers to the Commons, and Chloe Smith is thanking her lucky stars she is not one of them.

The Norwich North MP, who was re-elected after first winning her seat in a by-election last July, said: “Being the new kid is hard. It hits you like a sledge hammer.

“There's so much to go through. I feel very lucky having had the chance to get up and running so that now I can just get on with things.”

Come 9am Monday morning, after a well-earned break over the weekend, the 27-year-old will be getting stuck into tackling her backlog of casework and gearing up again to campaign on a range of issues that matter to people in Norwich.

Because the boundaries of the constituency were changed, it will be a case of passing on or receiving any unfinished casework from areas which have changed hands.

She said: “I will be carrying on campaigning for improved transport links - the A11 the NDR and the railway line from Norwich to London.

“Help for the elderly is very important and I spoke about it last year both locally and in parliament. This means social care, residential care and day care and all the other parts that go towards providing properly for pensioners.”

As far as national policies are concerned, it is the economic policies in general which are top of her priority list.

She said: “Getting us out of the recession and getting people working. Speaking to people on doorsteps there was a very strong desire to see people treated firmly but fairly in terms of benefits and job opportunities. That's top of my list in any coalition and economic policies in general are top of my list.”