South west Norfolk Conservatives to choose next candidate

CONSERVATIVES in South West Norfolk will next month decide their candidate who will try to succeed Christopher Fraser as the local MP.

CONSERVATIVES in South West Norfolk will next month decide their candidate who will try to succeed Christopher Fraser as the local MP.

Mr Fraser - who was elected to the safe Tory seat in 2005 with a majority of more than 10,000 - is standing down due to his wife Lisa's ill health.

It looks like it will be an intriguing contest to be the Conservative candidate and a key issue is whether members vote for a local person or one from outside the area.

Mr Fraser has attracted criticism as his main home has remained a �1.2m Dorset farm house and he became embroiled in the expenses scandal over spending at his second home at South Lopham, near Diss.

Several local politicians' names have already been mentioned as possible candidates, including Breckland Council leader William Nunn, who has already confirmed he would be interested.

Former Breckland leader Cliff Jordan, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council leader Nick Daubney and South West Norfolk Conservative Association agent Ian Sherwood have also been linked with the role.

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It seems certain that a number of would-be MPs from out of the area will also throw their hats into the ring.

In a statement on behalf of the association, Mr Sherwood said they were “extremely pleased with the calibre and number of applications received.”

But no further details have been revealed about the number of people applying or any names.

And no-one from the association was available to comment further last night.

The association's executive council has agreed a timetable for electing the candidate and officers, executive and the full qualifying membership of the Association will be involved in making the decision.

Association officers and a selection panel will select candidates for the executive council to interview on Saturday October 10 prior to the full membership meeting on October 24 when a decision should be made.

In the statement, Mr Sherwood said: “We are very sorry that Christopher cannot continue to serve the people of South West Norfolk, which he has done so very well over the last four years.

“We were extremely lucky to find such a hard working and effective voice for our area in Christopher and he and the association has received many requests asking him to reconsider, however the situation with his wife has not changed since the early summer and he has no option but not to seek re-adoption.”

Association chairman David Hills said: “This is a most important time for the association as we choose a candidate who we hope will be elected to serve and represent all of us who live and work here in South West Norfolk.”

After he announced he was not standing again, Mr Fraser said: “With great sadness, I have decided not to seek re-selection for the next election. My top priority must be to my wife and family.”