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Tim Hammond
"All seats are up for grabs on Thursday."
 real 28k

banner Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Reporting from Nottingham

The Conservatives hope to make in roads into the Labour fortress of Nottingham, the BBC's Tim Hammond reports.

Nottingham is good "middle England" territory by any measure - geography, politics or the economy.


Council control
1997: Lab
1995: Lab
1991: Lab
1987: Con

And the city is no stranger to local politics - after all, there has been a sheriff of Nottingham for 950 years.

But his castle and city have in recent years been transformed to a Labour fortress.

The last elections in Nottingham were three years ago on the same day as the general election - and Labour's sweeping success nationally was matched in the East Midlands.

Labour won 47 of the 55 seats in Nottingham with 56.3% of the vote.

Only five seats went to the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats took three.

But all seats are up for grabs on Thursday and the Conservatives have ground for encouragement.

They won a by-election last October with a 15% swing from Labour and a repeat of that would bring them 17 gains.

The wards they have targeted include Wilford, Basford, Sherwood, Portland, Byron and Beechdale.

Labour has had its problems locally - especially with schools.

Nottingham has come bottom of national performance tables and is working to improve results with initiatives on numeracy and literacy.

The city also took a knock when another study for the Index of Local Deprivation placed Nottingham in the "dirty dozen" of most deprived areas in Britain - and worse off than Barnsley, Hull and Sunderland.

The turn-out in 1997 when the seats were last contested was 64%.

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