Manifesto promises for the East of England

Sizewell
Image caption All the parties, except the Greens, support nuclear power and a new power station at Sizewell in Suffolk

If the manifestos have told us anything this week, it is that the main political parties have different views on some of the big issues affecting the eastern region.

While their views on how best to tackle the deficit will influence how many people vote, their stance on things like transport, energy, the environment and immigration could sway a number of undecided voters.

The big "local issue" which they have all addressed is transport.

All the parties recognise that after years of under investment it is time to put some serious money into our railways.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats believe that keeping the trains in private hands is the best way to do this and that longer franchises will encourage operators to put more of their own money into improving rolling stock. Both parties have promised £500m investment in the notorious Norwich to London line.

The Conservatives in their manifesto actually stated their commitment to the Norwich in 90 (minutes) campaign and to "improving connectivity to East Anglia". They will also complete the electrification of the Midland Main Line.

The Greens and Labour aren't keen on private companies making money out of running a public service.

The Green Party believes in complete re-nationalisation, while Labour has a half-way house policy - it will review the franchise system and allow the public sector to bid to take over failing lines, but there are many in the party who would like to go further.

It's also worth noting the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, identified rail policy as an area where the two parties could work together in a minority government.

UKIP plans to scrap HS2 and use some of the money saved to improve existing rail lines.

Image caption All the main parties promise benefits to rail users if they win the election

Whoever wins the election will reward travellers by holding down rail fares.

The Conservatives talk about a "real term" freeze, which means that fares will only rise by inflation.

Labour will implement a freeze for a year - then cap future increases (but make no mention of what that cap will be). The Greens pledge to cut all fares by 10%.

When it comes to road building the Conservative manifesto named roads it wanted to upgrade including the A11 (which has already been dualled) as well as the A47 - it also announced improvements to other roads in the region.

Labour and the Lib Dems made it clear this week they will honour all these pledges. Only the Greens will scrap road building schemes to use the money to improve public transport instead.

Immigration

On Immigration UKIP is talking toughest with its promise to control inward migration by leaving the EU, stopping what it calls NHS tourism and introducing an Australian points system.

The other parties, with the exception of the Greens, talk about preventing new comers from claiming benefits for between two and five years depending on which policy is implemented.

The Conservatives also hope to negotiate a new deal on immigration with the EU, backed by the threat that if the negotiations don't go their way they could recommend leaving when its in/out referendum is held in 2017.

Energy

When it comes to energy all the parties, except the Greens, support the growth of nuclear power and a new power station at Sizewell in Suffolk.

The Conservatives are hoping to discourage the building of any more on-shore wind farms by removing subsidies and giving local communities a final say. UKIP would remove subsidies from all wind farms and solar parks as well.

And in the subject of hunting - a big issue that once divided the region - the Conservatives will allow a free vote in parliament on repealing the Hunting Act, but Labour and the Greens want to keep it in place.

UKIP will leave it to individual communities to decide.

There's no guarantee that people read the manifestos or that they significantly affect the way people vote but at least they can see what the parties aim to offer this region.

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