'Horrendous' potholes in the Nottinghamshire Tory stronghold that's not looking very strong

A vote Labour sign pictured in West Bridgford
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

To the annoyance of many, Rishi Sunak called a general election knowing that the campaign would coincide with the Euros. For those watching the games, 1966 is probably a date etched onto the brain as the last time that England's men last won a major tournament.

For Labour activists in Rushcliffe at this general election, 1966 is also firmly etched into their minds. As the party's candidate, James Naish says: "Believe it or not, it's also the last time that Rushcliffe elected a non-Conservative MP."

Nottinghamshire may have been a sea of blue following the 2019 general election, but the party has two Nottinghamshire beacons that it will want to keep flickering following the July 4 ballot - Newark and Rushcliffe.

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Although the Conservative majority in Newark is stronger, for Rushcliffe to turn red would be more significant given its much longer history of unbroken Conservative election wins. Newark last had a Labour MP in 2001, whilst Rushcliffe hasn't had one since 1970.

Holding the seat for most of that period was Tory grandee Ken Clarke and heading into this election, Ruth Edwards will be hoping to cling on amid a predicted Conservative wipeout across the county. Judging by the thoughts of many in West Bridgford, it's going to be quite a task.

Tony Carter, 34, a software developer living in West Bridgford, said: "I'm not a Tory, sorry to disappoint you if that's what you were expecting because I know plenty are around here." Suffice to say that Mr Carter has made his mind up and will be backing Labour on July 4, adding: "I think it's important to vote because a lot of the older generation will still be backing the Tories."

"I think we've got to get rid of this lot, the country is absolutely ready for a change", said a passerby who said he was known as 'the Gamston runner'. Asked if this meant he would be voting Labour, the man said, "the clue is in what I just said."

Louise Neep, 64, would usually vote for the Liberal Democrats, but says she is voting tactically at this election along with her husband, 64-year-old Philip. Mrs Neep said: "I would usually be voting Liberal Democrat, but I'm voting tactically this time to get the Conservatives out. Our mind is made up, we're not floating voters.

"It's a Conservative area but this time around, who knows. Since Ken Clarke left and Ruth Edwards took over, I don't know if people will be as loyal."

Software developer Tony Carter in West Bridgford
Software developer Tony Carter in West Bridgford -Credit:Nottingham Post/Oliver Pridmore

Someone who will be staying loyal is lifelong Conservative voter, Glyn Johnson, 62, from Radcliffe on Trent, who said: "I'm from a working-class background and I think the Conservatives are still suffering from a lot of the coronavirus stuff. I hope that people don't just go out and vote to punish the Conservatives.

"The Conservatives say that we are now coming to the end of the economic recovery, so I myself want to stick with them." As well as the level of anti-conservative sentiment in one of the party's strongholds, another surprise arose in West Bridgford when it came to the local issues people would be thinking about when casting their vote.

Quite simply, many didn't have any. The national picture dominated the attention of many Rushcliffe voters, with one elderly West Bridgford resident enjoying a coffee by the park saying: "I'm very concerned about wokeness nationally, but I've lived in West Bridgford for 48 years and it's still a good place to live."

Only one local issue came up time and time again from almost everyone we spoke to - potholes. "Horrendous" and "shocking" were some of the words used to describe the state of Rushcliffe's roads, something that candidates attending Nottinghamshire Live's Rushcliffe hustings on Thursday (June 20) agreed with.

Liberal Democrat candidate Greg Webb blamed Conservative underfunding for the issue, saying: "We're just ending up with maintenance backlogs, we're ending up with horrendously potholed roads. They almost feel like a rollercoaster to drive over when you go down some of them.

"We need a base level of investment to actually maintain these things, whereas the Conservatives have too often been running a policy of managed decline."

Independent candidate Harbant Sehra said: "This is seen as a very good area but there are so many potholes and the roads are broken. Government say that they spend so much money on these things, but they are not actually spending money, the work is not actually getting done in the time that it needs to be done."

Labour's James Naish pledged the party would fix one million extra potholes a year by deferring one of the proposed schemes for the A27. Mr Naish said: "There are big [funding] gaps that have needed to be closed and [councils have] struggled to do that, and therefore services have declined. Potholes are a symptom of a lack of appreciation and funding into local government and I think one thing covid definitely showed was that local government really is close to people, it delivers such valuable services."

Another independent candidate, Lynne Irving, called for schemes across the world to be considered for the UK's roads, such as the use of recycled rubber tyres for road surfaces in India. Mrs Irving said: "It's not actually rocket science. There are about 2,000 miles of road in Nottinghamshire, most of it quite minor, it should be pretty easy to fix, shouldn't it?

A Conservative Party sign pictured at the office of former Rushcliffe MP, Ruth Edwards
A Conservative Party sign pictured at the office of Ruth Edwards -Credit:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post

"A road has a 10-year-life, which means you need to be fixing 200 miles of road a year, they're currently fixing about 30 and patching up other bits." The Conservative candidate Ruth Edwards said the party would use £8.3 billion from the cancellation of HS2 to fix potholes.

On the state of the roads in Rushcliffe, the incumbent MP said: "We've had two years of extremely bad weather, lots of water on the roads. We've also obviously had inflation pushing up the prices of those repairs. That's why I've worked with other Nottinghamshire MPs, we've been to see the chancellor and the secretary of state for transport and we said 'look we appreciate this isn't perhaps an exciting, big sexy transport announcement to put in your budget but we really need more money to fix our roads'."

Although Boris Johnson was hailed as the Blue Wall champion in 2019 for winning all Nottinghamshire seats outside the city, there may have been early evidence in Rushcliffe that the current brand of Conservatism may not have been in keeping with the area's residents. The Conservative vote share in 2019 fell by 4.3%, perhaps not helped by the fact that Boris booted Ken Clarke out over Brexit.

Expectations among Conservatives nationally are now pretty low, but a loss in seats like Rushcliffe would represent something truly existential. It's potholes on the minds of Rushcliffe residents and when heading to the ballot box on July 4, they may well leave the Conservative Party with a bumpy road ahead. Below are all the candidates for Rushcliffe, presented in alphabetical order by surname.


Ruth Edwards

Reform UK

James Grice


Lynn Irving


Richard Mallender


James Naish


Harbant Sehra

Liberal Democrats

Greg Webb