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Wyre Forest General Election profile: Affluent seat with a turbulent history

Wyre Forest | News | Published:

The Wyre Forest constituency was first contested in 1983, replacing the old Kidderminster seat, and has had something of a turbulent history.

It was a comfortably Conservative for the first three General Elections and was won by Anthony Coombs in 1992 with a majority of 10,341.

However the 1997 Labour landslide saw the party take the seat, with David Lock securing a majority of 6,946.

But by 2001 fury over the downgrading of Kidderminster Hospital saw widespread opposition to Labour, and Mr Lock was decisively defeated by Heath Concern’s Richard Taylor.

He held the seat with a vastly reduced majority in 2005, before Mark Garnier won it for the Conservatives in 2010 by a margin of 2,643 votes.

Last time out Mr Garnier strengthened his majority to 12,871 as Mr Taylor’s party – by then called National Health Action – slipped from prominence.

Mr Garnier will defend the seat for the Tories next month.

Originally from London, he is the Government’s international trade minister and has previously sat on the Treasury Select Committee. He backed Remain in the EU referendum.

Labour has selected Dr Matt Lamb, who was second behind Mr Garnier in 2015 with a 19.3 per cent share of the vote.

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He is a councillor in Worcester and has worked in education for around two decades. He is the assistant principal and a politics lecturer at Sandwell College.

UKIP posted a 16.1 per cent vote share in 2015 and will field George Connolly at this year’s election.

He gained notoriety early in the campaign when an image of his bare chest with ‘UKIP’ scrawled across it was shared thousands of times on social media.

Shazu Miah represents the Lib Dems, who had a third of the vote in Wyre Forest in 1987 but posted only 2.5 per cent in 2015.

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Kidderminster-born Brett Caulfield is standing for the Green Party.

Wyre Forest is a relatively affluent area with low unemployment. Last year the number of unemployed claimants in the constituency was around 1.5 per cent of the economically active population.

Its main town is Kidderminster, and the constituency also contains Bewdley and Stourport-on-Severn.

Turnout in Wyre Forest has generally been high, with the constituency regularly posting figures that are between two and three per cent above the national average.

In 2001 it recorded a 68 per cent turnout, which was almost nine per cent higher than the national average.

The spike has been attributed to the strength of local feeling on the hospital issue.

In the EU referendum Wyre Forest voted overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit. A total of 63.1 per cent voted for Leave, with 36.9 per cent backing Remain.

The turnout was 74 per cent.

Tomorrow: Aldridge-Brownhills

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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