Battle lines are drawn in Nottingham for General Election in 2015
IT may be two years away but the first shots have been fired in the General Election campaign in Nottingham.
Grant Shapps, minister without portfolio, visited shops in Bramcote Lane, Wollaton, yesterday, accompanied by Conservative candidate for Nottingham South Rowena Holland.
They chatted to shopkeepers about how business was faring on the high street and Mrs Holland revealed some of her plans for the forthcoming election campaign.
Mr Shapps said he was confident she could take the seat from Labour MP Lilian Greenwood.
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He said: "We are here today because Nottingham South is one of the most critical battlegrounds for the Conservative Party. It is somewhere we need to win if we are to get the next majority.
"Rowena is a very popular candidate who only narrowly missed out on being elected last time.
"She is already known to the community and people know how hard she works.
"We think gaining Nottingham South in 2015 is a realistic aim."
Mrs Holland, a councillor in North West Leicestershire, said she was confident of gaining more votes than during the previous election.
She said: "Today is the start of my campaign. From now forward I am going to be out in the streets in the constituency as often as possible, meeting people and listening to their concerns."
She said that, despite changes to council tax benefits, which will come into force in April, people on lower incomes in Nottingham South would not be badly affected if they were in work.
She added: "There is a very strong work ethic in Nottingham South.
"We are raising the level at which people pay tax to £10,000, which is very important to people here. The changes work out at 42,000 in the constituency paying lower income tax and 2,000 people not paying income tax at all as of April."
Lilian Greenwood won the seat with 15,209 votes in 2010.
Linda Woodings, Labour's constituency chairman for Nottingham South, said: "Labour believes that working families shouldn't have to pay the price of Tory failure. Here in Nottingham South, people are really starting to feel the effects of the Coalition's failed policies.
"Over 6,000 families in Nottingham South alone and over 23,000 families throughout the city are being hit by the new benefits cap, whilst at the same time the Government is cutting taxes for millionaires."