Voters in southeast Cornwall have a hard time making up their minds in the general election

The July 4th general election is just around the corner, when voters will go to the polls and decide who their next Prime Minister should be. But with less than a week to go until polling day, some voters in south-east Cornwall have said they still don’t know who to vote for.

Among those we spoke to when we visited Saltash and Torpoint this week, several said they had little faith in the candidates to deliver on the promises made in their manifestos. Some of the hot topics in the area include the Tamar toll, the availability of NHS dental services for children and road improvements on the A38.

Conservative Sheryll Murray has held the seat in this constituency since 2010, but she faces a tough fight with Labour’s Anna Gelderd, who the polls suggest could narrowly win. Other candidates for the constituency include Colin Martin of the Liberal Democrats, Paul Wadley of Reform UK, Martin Corney of the Green Party and Graham Cowdry of the Heritage Party.

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Before Ms Murray took office, the seat was held for 13 years by Liberal Democrat MP Colin Breed, and before that by Tory Robert Hicks until the 1980s. If Ms Gelderd is successful, it would be a historic victory for the Labour Party in the region.

The constituency covers Saltash and the Rame Peninsula, including Torpoint, Liskeard and Looe, Callington and Calstock and Lostwithiel. It is often referred to as the ‘forgotten corner of Cornwall’ as many claim it has been pushed to the fringes of thought by the county’s central powers in Truro and Mid Cornwall.

We visited some towns in the constituency this week to find out how people plan to vote, why and what issues matter most to them. Here is a selection of comments from some of those we spoke to, starting in Saltash.

Roxy Curry and Carolann McCormack

Carolann McCormack and Roxy Curry in SaltashCarolann McCormack and Roxy Curry in Saltash

Carolann McCormack and Roxy Curry in Saltash – Photo credit: Maxine Denton/CornwallLive

“Many parties say what they want people to hear,” said Roxy. “There has to be someone who represents the people, who takes responsibility. The whole country has problems.”

“There also needs to be a permanent office in (Saltash) where people can go and raise their concerns. That’s important because they (the candidates) only care if they get something done, but I want there to always be someone here to listen to our views.”

Carolann added that she will vote Labour because she agrees with their policies overall. She said: “I’ve had leaflets on the door for all of them and the Liberal Democrat man (Colin Martin) has come to talk to people and he seems nice, but I’ll probably vote Labour.”

When asked what issues she felt were important to her and needed to be addressed by the next Prime Minister, Roxy said: “The minimum wage should be the same regardless of age. Someone who is 16 can pay the same bills as someone who is 18.”

“Wages and benefits must rise with inflation. People cannot survive if they have to save every penny. It is better to continue receiving benefits now.”

Carolann said the national curriculum needed to be changed to teach children skills they might need later in life. “Schools need to change their curriculum to teach useful subjects like tax returns, cooking or job applications,” she said.

Simon, a local retired artist

“Honesty, integrity and transparency are important qualities for the next prime minister,” Simon said. “I have not yet decided who I will vote for because I have not found a political party that represents these qualities.”

Asked what issues he thought the next MP for the local constituency should address, he said: “Saltash has been on the right track over the last few years. Of course there is still a lot of work to be done and people need to understand that.”

“One problem is the cost of Covid and it will cost a lot to pay off the debts incurred during the pandemic. Whoever becomes prime minister, it will not be easy.”

Some common themes were raised in Torpoint, with some residents here again unsure who to vote for next week, with many feeling the next Prime Minister still has a lot of work to do.

Tracy Hough, works in a local nursery

Tracy Hough in TorpointTracy Hough in Torpoint

Tracy Hough, in Torpoint – Image credit: Maxine Denton/CornwallLive

“I don’t know who to vote for,” Tracy told CornwallLive. “I don’t like any of the candidates. We don’t vote for who we want as Prime Minister, we vote for the party, and everyone says these things they think we want to hear and then nothing happens.”

“Sheryl Murray is not helping people, so we need change. The Tories are helping small businesses, but if Labour came to power that probably wouldn’t happen.”

As a nursery teacher, Tracy said funding for nurseries was also important. “The government has proposed funding free childcare in nurseries. That sounds good, but it’s not. The minimum wage is about £11.50, but we get £4 (funding) per child.”

“The number of children you would need means it’s not worth it. The free funding doesn’t cover the childcare quotas. Many (private) nurseries in the area and in Plymouth have had to close. We have people from Devonport coming to our nurseries because the ones near them have closed.”

Anonymous resident

Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, also said she was unsure who to vote for in the July 4 general election. She said: “I have always voted Conservative, but I am not sure what to do now.”

“Everything is a mess and you have to look at it. It feels pretty hopeless unless we experience some kind of miracle. It feels like we’re in a similar situation to America with the candidates and you wonder if this is the best we can do.”

“We have to give young people a future. Many of them have difficulty finding a job after school. They all need help.”

“I moved here from Sussex, where it’s all about life, but here the shops close at 4pm. Cornwall has been forgotten here and that’s sad.”

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