The part of Nottingham where people are 'frightened to go out' and where 'spotting a copper is a novelty'

Hucknall town centre, which falls in the new Sherwood Forest constituency, with shoppers seen walking around on a hot day
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

There has been much talk during this general election campaign that the country is crying out for change. In one Nottinghamshire seat, voters will be getting some form of change no matter which one of the seven candidates they pick.

People in areas including Hucknall, Rainworth and Ollerton will be moving from having an MP for Sherwood to having an MP for Sherwood Forest. The name change has resulted from tweaks to the constituency's boundaries, which have also meant that the incumbent Conservative Mark Spencer has ended up technically moving out of his own seat.

Mr Spencer said: "We've been here forever, family came here in 1939. I've actually never moved house, I've only ever moved bedrooms."

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Yet one of the voters who won't be part of any change is 77-year-old Peter Dryer. Enjoying a break from his bike ride in Hucknall town centre, Mr Dryer will not be able to vote in this general election because of citizenship rules. He said: "I've been here for 34 years and I still can't vote in general elections, I can only vote in local elections.

"It seems unfair because I don't want to lose my German citizenship, but I've worked in the NHS and contributed for so long." Mr Dryer said if he could vote, he would be backing Labour at this election.

Yet many in Hucknall were undecided which party they would back, with some simply wanting whoever wins to get a grip on the issues that matter to them. In terms of those important issues, crime and anti-social behaviour came up again and again.

Police stations in both Hucknall and Ollerton closed in 2015 and some claim that "spotting a copper is a novelty." Incidents in Hucknall's town centre in recent years have included groups of young people running across shop roofs and smashing windows and more recently, a woman suffered a fractured skull after an incident outside a pub in the town.

Martin Starkey, 49, who lives in Hucknall and has his Starkey's Workshop stand on the town's market, said: "It has been bad on my street and the issue is that if you go out and say something, it doesn't matter to them. There's no respect at all."

In terms of whether he will vote, Mr Starkey said: "I think it's going to be a last minute thing for me, I'm still undecided. I will definitely vote and it won't be Conservative."

Martin Starkey at his market stand in Hucknall stood in front of his wooden goods
Martin Starkey at his market stand in Hucknall -Credit:Nottingham Post

One 73-year-old woman, who has been a lifelong Hucknall resident was in town with her husband, said: "We're frightened to go out now. I've had my purse taken from me before and I know that even Greggs are fed up of people stealing from them. It never used to be like this."

Anti-social behaviour was by no means the only issue, with the 73-year-old woman saying her vote will go to the party which gets a grip of the "ridiculous" situation around immigration. One 78-year-old man in the town felt his generation had been left behind, saying: "I have voted in the past but I won't be this time. We've worked all our lives and put in, but pensioners have just been forgotten about."

Also without much faith regardless of the issue was 34-year-old Simon Ramsden, who added: "I don't vote and I won't be voting this time. They all promise things that they can't deliver and nothing ever seems to change."

Hoping to persuade voters such as Simon that they could indeed deliver change, candidates attending Nottinghamshire Live's hustings for Sherwood Forest on Wednesday (June 26) set out a range of policies to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.

Liberal Democrat David Dobbie believed more safety points needed to be installed by CCTV cameras and also championed the role of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), saying: "PCSOs have a better involvement with the community.

"The police will deal with the serious incidents, but the PCSOs dealing with the local population, they're the ones who get the information about whose riding the bike across the land and things like that. They at that base local level are the best, I think, to try and deal with anti-social behaviour in our towns and villages."

Sheila Greatrex-White from the Green Party said her focus would be on ending violence against women and girls, saying her party had pledged investment worth £2.5 billion to free up the court system. On anti-social behaviour in particular, the Green candidate said: "We need to clear up our streets, we want bobbies back on the beat. We want to stop the campaign for routine use of stop and search and we want to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour by getting more bobbies back on the beat."

Mark Spencer said his party had invested in more CCTV across Hucknall and that Nottinghamshire Police had performed "really well" in terms of recruitment. Amid a debate on the merits of stop and search powers in the hustings, Mr Spencer added: "I like stop and search to be honest, I like the thought of people being stopped to see if they're carrying a knife. Certainly I wouldn't mind being stopped by the police to see if I were carrying a knife - I know that would keep other people safe.

"I think making sure people feel safe from crime is equally important as making sure they are safe from crime." Independent candidate Jeremy Spry said the anti-social behaviour was an "epidemic" affecting the entire country and one which therefore required national solutions.

Mr Spry said: "The current punishment measures fail us as citizens. The law-abiding citizen is punished again and again and again because those that do these violent acts and other acts simply are released back onto the streets and re-offending."

Lee Waters, also running as an independent, said he would prioritise more visible policing in areas like Hucknall, Blidworth and Rainworth, claiming that scrapping the role of police and crime commissioners could generate savings to invest in frontline policing. Mr Waters added: "It's not rocket science to understand that police presence deters criminals. In Hucknall, where I live, spotting a copper is a novelty."

Labour's candidate Michelle Welsh also said her party would invest far more in neighbourhood policing and PCSOs and that she would ensure Sherwood Forest received "more than its fair share" of this investment. Yet in terms of the causes of anti-social behaviour, Labour's candidate added: "Anti-social behaviour doesn't just start, the Conservatives have absolutely decimated our public services, our youth services, our support services for people.

"Anti-social behaviour does not just happen, it is because of the endless cuts we've had." It is certainly a broad suite of options when it comes to tackling a persistent problem which, alongside many others, show that voters in Sherwood Forest will need much more change than a new constituency name after July 4. Below are all the candidates, presented in alphabetical order by surname, for Sherwood Forest.

Liberal Democrats

David Dobbie


Sheila Greatrex-White

Reform UK

Helen Rose O'Hare


Mark Spencer


Jeremy Spry


Lee Waters


Michelle Welsh