Election 2015 England

Newport 'floating voters' have their say

Composite image of Newport residents (clockwise from top left: Natalie Hicks, Mrs Wilkinson, Peter Vale, Lindsay Rushworth, Katrina Wilkinson and Phil Gittus)
Image caption Newport's "floating voters" reveal what could swing their vote on 7 May

With many people believed to be still undecided over who to vote for in May's General Election, it appears floating voters could have a big say over who wins in some of the most marginal constituencies.

BBC Radio Shropshire has been navigating a boat through landlocked Shropshire to find out what's on the minds of voters and what issues they are most concerned about.

I visited Newport, a small market town in The Wrekin Constituency, which sits on the Shropshire-Staffordshire border to speak to people here.

Today there are more than 10,000 people living in the town, making it the second largest in the Telford and Wrekin council area.

Historically, this has been a Conservative stronghold.

Mark Pritchard has been the MP since 2005 and is looking to be re-elected. However, he could face opposition from UKIP's candidate and current MEP Jill Seymour.

Housing concerns

Phil Gittus runs a bicycle shop in the town centre. He said in the past he had voted Conservative, but concerns over immigration could see him switch his vote.

"I've got four kids, so university fees are always worrying, I think they're way too high. Locally living in Newport I want to know why houses are being built left, right and centre," he said.

Katrina Gillman, meanwhile, will hope to pick up votes for the Labour party.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Newport is the second biggest town in the Telford and Wrekin area

Local resident Lindsay Rushworth, 35, said the party's family friendly policies could sway her vote, but she was undecided.

I asked the mature student what she thought were the biggest issues that would influence her decision on 7 May.

"It's quite hard to get appointments in the NHS and the waiting lists are quite long for some things," she said.

"I worry about Newport and all the extra houses being built, there are only two doctors surgeries and we haven't really got a health clinic here either."

'Better hospitals'

Another resident I caught up with in the town was Natalie Hicks, a 24-year-old Biomedical scientist, and mother-to-be. She said cheap childcare was one of the most important issues for her.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 80-year-old Mrs Rushworth said she had traditionally voted for the Conservative party, but this year can't make up her mind.

She said she worried about the younger generation and had concerns about the NHS.

"It would be nice to have better teachers and definitely better hospitals which we all need. I've just had a new hip so I know how hard the doctors and nurses work," she said.

Peter Vale, 24, a student at the nearby Harper Adams University, described himself as a "floating voter". He said "immigration, the NHS and taxation" were the main issues that would guide his ultimate decision next month.

Not everyone I stopped was engaged with the election.

Katrina Wilkinson is unemployed and said she would not be voting for any party,

"To be honest I choose not to vote because their decisions have already been made in my opinion," she said.

Candidates standing in The Wrekin constituency:

  • Cath Edwards - Green
  • Katrina Gilman - Labour
  • Rod Keyes - Liberal Democrat
  • Mark Andrew Pritchard - Conservative
  • Jill Seymour - UKIP

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