General Election 2024: Sherwood Forest constituency profile

By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

The Sherwood Forest constituency has only been held by the Labour Party once in its history – albeit for a lengthy period of time – before another Conservative Party takeover.

Labour’s Paddy Tipping served the constituency between 1992 and 2010, retiring in May that year due to a heart attack, before going on to become police commissioner for Nottinghamshire.

The area is one of contrasts. Expansive country estates and affluent villages punctuate towns that were, for decades, reeling from the decline of the coal mining industry.

While a tough nut to crack for the Conservative Party as a result, farmer Mark Spencer managed to round up enough voters in 2010, during which he secured a narrow majority of 214 votes.

However, from here on, Mr Spencer continued to increase his majority in 2015, 2017 and in 2019, when he achieved his most significant majority yet of more than 16,000 votes.

Not only did his popularity amongst the electorate increase, but so too did his favourability among his party’s leaders.

Under former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he became chief whip and parliamentary secretary to the treasury, and later the leader of the Commons. In March 2024, he became Sir Mark Spencer.

Owing to a turbulent period for the party, particularly under Mr Johnson’s leadership, Mr Spencer faces his toughest election since 2010.

After a boundary review, the constituency has been renamed Sherwood Forest to better reflect the area in which it encapsulates.

Results in 2019 – Conservative HOLD – Sir Mark Spencer

Turnout: 67.7 per cent

Electorate: 77,888

Majority: 16,186

Questioning the candidates

David Dobbie – Liberal Democrats

Why should people vote for you?

“We are trying to go and put a liberal point of view across in this election. We have a large battle going on for the control of the country between Conservatives and Labour, after a massive majority for the Conservatives.

“It is looking like there might be a massive majority for the Labour Party according to the polls. But I think the country needs that liberal view.”

What are the most important issues in Sherwood Forest?

“I think it is important local communities have their say in the planning process. I was chair of planning on Gainsborough Town Council and we brought in a neighbourhood plan which achieved strong approval at referendum.

“There does not seem to be the same engagement with local communities over in Nottinghamshire as they do in Lincolnshire. We’ve got a lot of local engagement with people to say what they want have happen in their communities and I’d like to see that here.”

What has Sherwood Forest got going for it?

“One of the things I would like to see, and the time now is to do it, is a Major Oak extension to the Robin Hood Line.

“I am very familiar with that proposed route because I previously worked as a coal QA tester at High Marnham power station. I know the line, it is there, they need to put some stations in. It is quite a low-cost when you have that infrastructure there. The time is now because the Major Oak is the most famous tree in the country, the other one got chopped down, we need this to create jobs for people.

“HS2 closed down, they said they would re-jig the money, this to me is a no-brainer.

“I am very concerned about the decrease in water quality in our streams and rivers. As a representative for Trent Valley IDB I am anxious about increasing flooding events and how polluted flood water impacts on land. The Lib Dems will always fight to protect our environment.”

Helen Rose O’Hare – Reform UK

Ms O’Hare was not available for interview. In a written statement, she said: “As your Reform UK Party candidate, I believe every resident of Sherwood Forest deserves to have their voices heard in Parliament. I am committed to representing the interests of our community at the highest level of government.

“The Sherwood Forest Constituency has had a massive growth in new homes with no addition to any of our services. The 14 years of Tory failure are coming to an end.  A Labour government would ramp up mass immigration, crime, and taxes even further. Labour and Tories are two side of the same coin.

“Our Contract with You covers the most important areas of policy for you and your families, but I will summarise these into five core pledges:

Boost wages

Lift the income tax starting threshold to £20k to save the lowest paid £1,500 per year. This takes 7 million of the least well-off out of income tax to make work pay.

Freeze Immigration

All non-essential immigration frozen to boost wages, protect public services, end the housing crisis & cut crime.

Stop the boats

Small boats picked up & taken back to France – illegals in the UK detained & deported.

Zero NHS waiting list 

Deliver our fully funded plan for zero NHS waiting lists in 2 years. Cut waste so more money goes to the frontline. Tax breaks for doctors and nurses to tackle the staffing crisis.

Cheap, secure British energy

Scrap energy levies and Net Zero to slash energy bills & save each household £500 per year. Unlock Britain’s vast oil & gas reserves to beat the cost-of-living crisis and unleash real economic growth.

“This is what I as your Reform UK party MP will fight hard for when elected. So, if you want change you need to vote for it on July 4. Vote Tory, get Labour, Vote Reform to get reform.”

Lee Waters – Independent

Lee Waters, Independent (LDRS)

Why should people vote for you?

“I think people are just so annoyed with the big party politicians so they want change, they want something different.

“They’re looking for an alternative and as an independent candidate, that’s what I think I can deliver, and we have a history and a track record in Sherwood Forest of electing independents, certainly at council level, across Hucknall, Blidworth, Rainworth, we’ve got a following of independents in Calverton and also Ollerton.

“So it’s a really good chance to get something different for our constituency.”

What are the most important issues in Sherwood Forest?

“The constituency was recently renamed Sherwood Forest, but people are frightened it could turn into ‘Sherwood Concrete Jungle’. We’re looking at the manifestos of Labour and the Tories, both of them are committed to building more than 300,000 houses and it’s going to have a detrimental impact on our green belt, which our constituency is known for.

“I would like to see a law passed, and I’ll do this via the Private Members’ Bill, where you cannot build more than 100 houses without a credible plan for infrastructure, which includes doctors and surgeries and school places. Certainly, places like Hucknall, were crying out for secondary schools.

“if we look across the constituency, places like Rainworth, Blidworth, they’ve got real issues of anti-social behaviour, an example of a Labour council not using the anti-social behaviour powers, and you’ve got bikers and crime going awry.”

What has Sherwood Forest got going for it?

“Sherwood Forest is an absolutely lovely place to live. You look at Calverton, you look at Hucknall, Ollerton, there’s so much history and pride here.

“We’ve got lovely communities who do come together. In Hucknall, where I am from and proud to raise a family in, we have got Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace.

“I was involved in Hucknall’s winning bid for £9.2 million, which we’re going to re-invest, so we are really excited for that.”

Mark Spencer – Conservative Party

Mark Spencer, Conservative (LDRS)
Mark Spencer, Conservative (LDRS)

Why should people vote for you?

“I think number one protecting the green belt here is very important, there is huge pressure from the Ashfield Independents, Ashfield District Council, Labour-controlled Gedling Borough Council, to build on the green belt.

“We haven’t got the infrastructure here in Hucknall to deal with that. We seem to be inundated with housing from other authorities.

“I will try to try and protect that. I want to continue to see investment in our high streets, we’ve seen huge amounts of cash pour into the high street.

“We want to continue to build on that. We want to rebuild two new schools here in Hucknall, we’ve got commitments to do that as well, but I think also for working families, for opportunities, that’s why people should vote Conservative and vote for me on July 4.”

What are the most important issues in Sherwood Forest?

“I think opportunity. People always want to see opportunity for their kids, they want to make sure schools are good, they want to make sure they’ve got a good job to go to and then when they’ve got a job they can retain the cash themselves, pay a little bit of tax, get on the housing ladder.

“I think we’ve got plans to deal with all of that, to make sure people aren’t over-taxed. But also to help people on to the housing ladder with a right-to-buy scheme to help people save up for a deposit. People want to see opportunity for their children and their grandchildren.”

What has Sherwood Forest got going for it?

“I mean, it is a fantastic place to live, Nottinghamshire. Number one, geographically we are right in the middle of the country and we’ve got great facilities, great history, and I think we’re right on the edge of Sherwood Forest, you can get out into the beautiful countryside and stretch your legs.

“It’s a great place to live and the community is really what makes it.

“I think clearly we’ve been through some very difficult times you know, Covid and Ukraine of course, huge ripples throughout the whole world. We are just starting to address that, turn the corner, and I think now it would be a mistake to change direction and we’re going to stick with the plan.”

Michelle Welsh – Labour Party

Michelle Welsh, Labour (LDRS)
Michelle Welsh, Labour (LDRS)

Why should people vote for you?

“We’ve had 14 years of Conservative Government which has been absolute chaos, and we’ve had 14 years of a Conservative MP who, quite frankly, has not served this constituency and has spent his time defending parties in lockdown in Number 10, and defending Rishi Sunak’s absolute calamity with regards to D-Day.

“I think it is time for change. I am deeply rooted in this community, having worked for years setting up Sure Start services, working with some of the most vulnerable children and families in this community, so I believe it is time for change and it is time we brought back politics for service.”

What are the most important issues in Sherwood Forest?

“Some of the issues that have been brought up to me on the doorstep are the costs of living crisis, people cannot afford to pay their bills, they are concerned about those rising costs.

“People have brought to my attention the amount of housing we’ve had built without the infrastructure and the fact we need to stop those plans of building on some of our precious green belt.

“We’ve had the miners’ pensions as well. It is really important we fix that, and we stand up for those women in regards to WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) as well.

“In addition to that our rural communities have been badly let down, farmers have got a real bad deal recently and rural crime is on the rise, so we need to fix them too. Our schools don’t have enough money, our roads and pavements are crumbling and quite frankly it is time for change.”

What has Sherwood Forest got going for it?

“I love this constituency. It has a very special place in my heart because I have worked here for so many years.

“It is rich with history and culture with very, very proud people who are not afraid to say exactly how they feel. This place has the benefit of fabulous towns that need investment to just get that bit better

“We have a rural community that is very devised from food to livestock. It is a fabulous constituency that has been badly let down.”

Sheila Greatrex-White – Green Party

Why should people vote for you?

“Firstly, it is because my father was a miner, the constituency has loads of old mining communities around and I have grown up in Nottinghamshire all my life.

“I know a lot of the concerns people have around here and I was just so sad and angry about the dishonesty from other parties. I felt I had to do something, hence I am standing for the Green Party because I believe in their policies and what they are trying to do.”

What are the most important issues in Sherwood Forest?

“Because I have always worked in the NHS and more latterly in higher education teaching healthcare professionals I am passionate about the NHS and the Green Party is the only party saying there is enough funding by taxing the richest in our society in order to give Sherwood Forest a better health service and at least access to dentists which is one of the main concerns.

“In Rainworth I discovered people are so upset about the amount of anti-social behaviour and drug taking in Rainworth. The Green Party have got policies that would make policing better and help young people get off drugs and help them into society.

“In Calverton they have had a new housing estate put up and they say that is fine, but they want the infrastructure there. The Green Party says we will only build in places where there is the infrastructure to support all those new people coming in.

“I was in Bilsthorpe a few days ago and they are really angry about the proposed incinerator. We don’t need more, what we do need is properly thought out green policy for renewable energy.”

What has Sherwood Forest got going for it?

“What’s not to love? The forests, the theatres, two brilliant universities in Nottinghamshire, we have Newstead Abbey. We have farmers who are desperate to produce food for our constituency and country. We have wonderful open spaces that the Green Party are keen to keep running and protect.

“We have got businesses, more and more local businesses setting up, they just need the support and investment the Green Party are promising. I would urge anyone who thinks a Green vote is a wasted vote to reconsider because we are almost sure Labour will get in as the next government, but we need to make sure we’ve got Green MPs to keep the government on the straight and narrow.”

The LDRS made attempts to contact independent candidate Jeremy Spry.

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