In the second of our constituency profiles, Janet Gleeson tells of the battle for the safe Conservative haven of Richmond

RICHMOND constituency nestles between the Moors and the Dales, a huge area with many farms, market towns and rural businesses wedged alongside Britain’s biggest military base at Catterick Garrison.

There’s a high number of pensioners, a large level of home ownership and low unemployment. Nearly 20 per cent of workers are in public administration and defence.

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Local issues include the preservation of services at Northallerton's Friarage Hospital, social care and energy, particularly fracking, while the future of farming is tied in to candidates' approaches to Brexit.

Richmond is a stronghold for the Conservatives who’ve held it since 1910. Five candidates are battling it out, with Ukip, who came second in 2015 election, not standing. Therefore, one of the biggest topics of debate is who is best placed to give the Tories a run for their money.

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Tobie Abel, Liberal Democrats

Tobie Abel is the Lib Dems' candidate. He returned to live in the county with his wife six years ago and is campaigning hard on Brexit. He said: “Over 11,000 constituents voted to remain, and many more will be deeply concerned at the way the Tories are now determined to pursue immigration control above every other priority.

“Only the Lib Dems can offer real opposition. Labour is in the midst of a civil war, and the polls are predicting a Tory landslide that threatens single party domination.”

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Dan Perry, Labour

Dan Perry who is standing for Labour is a councillor in Newcastle and an engineer with extensive experience in green energy. He believes having learned about the impact fracking has already had upon North Yorkshire, it is vital to seek sustainable and locally sourced energy solutions with offshore wind power the most likely route.

“Only a vote for the Labour Party offers an opportunity to say no to both Tory complacency and Liberal Democrat intransigence," he said.

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Chris Pearson, Yorkshire Party

Chris Pearson is the Yorkshire Party candidate. He lives in Northallerton, worked as a mental health nurse for 37 years and says he joined the Yorkshire Party because of concerns about the imbalance between spending in London and Yorkshire. He said: “There are big differences in the amount spent on infrastructure, education and other services. That affects performance and attainment, particularly for our children. We want to see a Yorkshire Parliament established. Then we can have more control and influence over the things that matter.”

The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak, the man hoping to replace William Hague as Richmond MP talks to Joe Willis about policies, hobbies and a mysterious pair of wellies.

CANDIDATE: Rishi Sunak, Conservatives

Conservative candidate Rishi Sunak is fighting for the seat again just two years after winning the 2015 election. He says he’s standing on his record fighting for fairer funding for North Yorkshire’s schools, maintaining a broad range of services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and Darlington’s Memorial, and seeking further improvements to broadband and mobile phone coverage. He will also wants to boost apprenticeships, and maintain support and cut bureaucracy for farmers.

The Northern Echo:

CANDIDATE: Fiona Yorke, Green Party

Green Party candidate Fiona Yorke was born in North Yorkshire and now works as a learning consultant. She says as a vegetarian she cares about animal welfare and about helping farmers produce the food the world needs. She is campaigning for clean air, cheaper public transport and renewable energy. “We need proper funding for the NHS with investment in mental health; building more affordable homes, taxing empty properties, protecting EU citizens living here and protecting workers rights,” she said.

Northern Echo political commentator Chris Lloyd says...

We can call this result now: Conservative hold. Richmond is one of the largest seats in the country, both geographically and in terms of its electorate – it has more than 83,400 voters whereas Sedgefield over the Tees has not even 63,000.

For the Conservatives, it is one of the safest seats. In his pomp in 2010, former party leader William Hague won a record 62.8 per cent of the vote, and secured a majority of 23,336.

Perhaps the only question on June 8 will be how close Rishi Sunak, who is defending his 19,550 majority, can come to Mr Hague's personal best.

He may have a chance of bettering it as in 2015, Ukip came second with 15 per cent of the vote.

In the county council election in May, Ukip's share of the vote plummeted to just three per cent, and the party is not standing this time.

Therefore, in a seat which voted more than 75 per cent to leave the EU, how many of Ukip's 8,000 votes will go to the Tories?

In 2015...

Electorate: 83,451 
Turnout: 64.71%

Rishi Sunak (Con) 27,744
Matthew Cooke (UKIP) 8,194
Mike Hill (Lab) 7,124
John Harris (Lib Dem) 3,465
John Blackie (Ind) 3,348
Leslie Rowe (Green) 2,313
Robin Scott (Ind) 1,811

Conservatives majority: 19,550