Political constituency focus: Voters in Wakefield have their say

In the run up to the General Election on December 12, 2019, the Yorkshire Evening Post has been out in communities across our patch, speaking to residents about the issues that matter to them.

In the latest part of our community focus series, Mark Lavery reports from Wakefield, a traditionally safe Labour seat, where he found some people are undecided about who to vote for and many are fed up of Brexit dominating politics.

Paul Bedford

Paul Bedford

The Wakefield constituency has been held by Labour since 1932.

Most recent Wakefield Labour MP Mary Creagh first won the seat in 2005 with a majority of 5,154 and held it with a 1,613 majority over Conservative candidate Alex Story in 2010.

In the 2017 General Election she won with a 2,176 majority after polling 22,987 votes compared to Conservative candidate Anthony Calvert's 20,811.

In the 2016 EU referendum a total of 66.4 per cent of people who voted in Wakefield were in favour of leaving.

Lee Wilkinson

Lee Wilkinson

Father-of-four Lee Wilkinson, who runs the Deli Central café on the Bullring in Wakefield city centre, voted remain in the EU referendum and Conservative in the 2017 general election.

Mr Wilkinson, 42, of Ossett, said: "Me and my family are confused about who to vote for.

"They had the referendum and gave Joe public the chance to have their say and now they have taken that away from them. I don't know what a general election is going to solve.

"This all seems to be based around Brexit, that's all we have heard and had shoved down our throats for two years.

Andy Turner

Andy Turner

"You go and cast your vote every four years because you listen to the parties and what their policies are going to be. This time it all seems to be based around Brexit.

"None of the parties are saying why you should vote for them."

He added: "I think people are not spending their money because of all the uncertainty over Brexit and businesses are going under day in day out.

"The high street is in turmoil with little businesses going under every day, I think partly due to Brexit.

"The government is too busy focusing on Brexit to worry about anything else going on in the country."

Grandfather of two Paul Bedford, a retired NHS manager who now works part time as a theatre assistant at the Aspire private hospital in Roundhay, Leeds, said, said: "I will be thinking about the NHS.

"More than anything I will be thinking about the long term future of our grandchildren, protecting their working and living conditions."

Mr Bedford, 62, of Walton, Wakefield, said: "Before the welfare state, workers were treated as a commodity and we don't want to return to those dark days.

"I have always voted Labour. The last time I checked my bank account I wasn't a multi millionaire so I can't afford to vote Tory.

"I voted remain, however I have to say because the country made a democratic decision it should be honoured, but not at any cost.

"We have got to ensure that working and social rights are protected. The continual move towards private contractors and privatisation of the NHS is a great concern."

Mr Bedford added: "I understand people's frustration over Brexit and in a lot of people's minds it's become the only issue.

"I would hope people's opinions will not be ruled by Brexit and go beyond that when they vote and look at the greater social and economic issues that face ordinary working people."

Father-of-two Andy Turner, 60, of Middlestown, Wakefield, runs First Choice Recruitment on Silver Street in Wakefield.

Mr Turner, who voted leave in the EU referendum, said he is undecided on which party he will vote for on December 12.

He said: "Everybody is just disappointed with parliament. What worries me is that we had quite a good turnout for the referendum in 2016 and I worry that people won't vote this time.

"The vast majority of people in Wakefield voted to leave. Mary Creagh does a great job in lots of other ways but when it comes to the referendum she went against the majority of her constituents.

"I run a recruitment company and all everybody talks about is Brexit. We want it sorted one was or another so we can all move on and get on to bigger issues like supporting the economy.

"One of the issues we have got is the country has had full employment for some time. Out clients are coming to us and saying we need all these staff to expand and deliver our services and our products.

"One of the reasons we are at full employment is net migration has been negative for some time.

"We are getting less Polish, Latvians and people from the Czech Republic as their future is not as secure. So there is a skill shortage in Wakefield and that doesn't help."

Mum-of-one Karen Cooper, 49, of Sandal, who runs Wakefield Antiques and Collectables in the Ridings shopping centre, said: "I just think everybody is fed up of Brexit now and I don't know if I will vote because I just don't know who to vote for.

"I have always voted Labour but I don't know who I will vote for this time if I vote at all, it's pointless.

"I voted remain but obviously we voted to leave so we should have gone with the majority. We have not left so what is the point in voting because you vote for something and don't get it.

"Let's just leave and get on with it."

Self-employed builder Greg Jones, 41, lives in Horbury, a small town around two-miles to the west of Wakefield.

Mr Jones said he voted remain in the 2016 EU referendum and voted for the Green Party in the 2017 General Election.

The father-of-four, who plans to vote Labour on December 12, said: "I don't think the Tories are doing a very good job. I look around and see people still struggling through austerity."

Mr Jones said: "I like to look at policies. I believe austerity has dragged on too long. We are not really getting anywhere with it.

"I believe big companies need to pay their share in tax because they often don't pay any at all.

"There is too much time being wasted on Brexit by the Government.

"I think it was too close a call to do anything about anyway. There should have been something written into the referendum that the majority should have been a certain percentage and then it's a clear majority.

"It (Brexit) has taken time away from the issues, traditional politics - things that are important for everyday people - things that politicians should be working on like education and health, basic politics."

Candidates standing in the Wakefield constituency:

Imran Nasir Ahmad-Khan - Conservative Party

Mary Helen Creagh - Labour Party.

Ryan David Kett - Yorkshire Party.

Jamie Luke Needle - Liberal Democrats.

Stephen William Whyte - Independent.

Peter David Wiltshire - Brexit Party.