West Suffolk (UK Parliament constituency)

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West Suffolk
County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of West Suffolk in Suffolk.
Outline map
Location of Suffolk within England.
County Suffolk
Electorate 76,158 (December 2010)[1]
Major settlements Newmarket, Haverhill and Mildenhall
Current constituency
Created 1997
Member of parliament Matt Hancock (Conservative)
Number of members One
Created from Central Suffolk
Number of members Two
Type of constituency County constituency
Replaced by Bury St Edmunds
(also succeeded itself)
North-Western or 'Stowmarket' Division
South or 'Sudbury' Division
Created from Suffolk
European Parliament constituency East of England

West Suffolk is a constituency[n 1] represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Matt Hancock, a Conservative.[n 2] Between 1832 and 1885 there had also been a constituency, the Western Division of Suffolk that had also been called West Suffolk.


Between the 1832 Reform Act and 1885 there had been a constituency, the Western Division of Suffolk known as West Suffolk, although on different boundaries. Its second creation occurred with Parliamentary approval of the Boundary Commission's third periodic review in time for the 1997 election (the first such review having been in 1945, following the Representation of the People Act 1918 review).

Political history

The seat at this time has only been represented by Conservatives with the narrowest majority having been that of 1997 at only 3.8% of the vote, since which the majority has gradually increased to a level seen most commonly in safe seats.

For the 2010 general election, the transition was planned six months before, on 23 November 2009, when the incumbent announced he would not stand again.[2]

Prominent frontbenchers

Richard Spring[n 3] was an opposition spokesman for Foreign Affairs (2000-2004) (shadowing a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister) then Shadow Minister for the Treasury (2004-2005) before being a Vice-Chairman of his party and being elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Risby. Several of his ancestors had previously represented Suffolk in the House of Commons.


1997-2010: The District of Forest Heath, and the Borough of St Edmundsbury wards of Barningham, Barrow, Cangle, Castle, Chalkstone, Chevington, Clements, Honington, Horringer, Hundon, Ixworth, Kedington, Risby, St Mary’s and Helions, Stanton, Wickhambrook, and Withersfield.

2010-present: The District of Forest Heath, and the Borough of St Edmundsbury wards of Bardwell, Barningham, Barrow, Chedburgh, Haverhill East, Haverhill North, Haverhill South, Haverhill West, Hundon, Ixworth, Kedington, Risby, Stanton, Wickhambrook, and Withersfield.

The constituency includes the town of Newmarket, the world headquarters of horse racing as well as the towns of Haverhill and Mildenhall with a farmed landscape, interspersed with patches of forest[n 4] and small villages.

Constituency profile[edit]

This area includes a slightly older demographic profile than the national average, with a significant proportion of semi-detached and detached homes and a higher than average proportion of retired people.[3]

Major economic sectors include defence (RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath), agriculture/food (including for major products as well as regional specialities such as ales, Suffolk cider and cured meats), tourism and leisure (such as Newmarket racecourse) and particularly in Haverhill, a range of industries. These include chemicals (such as International Flavors and Fragrances), waste processing, transport, construction and pharmaceuticals.

Workless claimants who were registered jobseekers were in November 2012 lower than the national average of 3.8%, at 2.5% of the population based on a statistical compilation by The Guardian.[4]

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member[5] Party
1997 Richard Spring Conservative
2010 Matthew Hancock Conservative


Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2017: West Suffolk [6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Matt Hancock 31,649 61.2 +9.0
Labour Michael Jefferys 14,586 28.2 +10.7
UKIP Julian Flood 2,396 4.6 -17.1
Liberal Democrat Elfreda Tealby-Watson 2,180 4.2 -0.8
Green Donald Allwright 935 1.8 -1.8
Majority 17,063 33.0 +2.6
Turnout 51,852 67.2 +2.3
Conservative hold Swing Decrease 0.85
General Election 2015: West Suffolk[7][8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Matt Hancock 25,684 52.2 +1.6
UKIP Julian Flood[9] 10,700 21.7 +15.3
Labour Michael Jefferys 8,604 17.5 +2.7
Liberal Democrat Elfreda Tealby-Watson[10] 2,465 5.0 −18.4
Green Niall Pettitt[11] 1,779 3.6 N/A
Majority 14,984 30.4 +3.3
Turnout 49,429 64.9 +0.3
Conservative hold Swing −6.9
General Election 2010: West Suffolk[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Matt Hancock 24,312 50.6 +1.7
Liberal Democrat Belinda Brooks-Gordon 11,262 23.4 +6.2
Labour Ohid Ahmed 7,089 14.7 −14.2
UKIP Ian Smith 3,085 6.4 +1.5
BNP Ramon Johns 1,428 3.0 N/A
Independent Andrew Appleby 540 1.1 N/A
Christian Peoples Colin Young 373 0.8 N/A
Majority 13,050 27.1 +6.9
Turnout 48,089 64.6 +3.8
Conservative hold Swing −2.3

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: West Suffolk[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Richard Spring 21,682 49.0 +1.4
Labour Michael Jeffreys 12,773 28.9 −8.6
Liberal Democrat Adrian Graves 7,573 17.1 +5.3
UKIP Ian Smith 2,177 4.9 +1.8
Majority 8,909 20.2 +10.1
Turnout 44,205 60.7 +0.2
Conservative hold Swing +5.0
General Election 2001: West Suffolk[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Richard Spring 20,201 47.6 +6.7
Labour Michael Jefferys 15,906 37.5 +0.4
Liberal Democrat Robin Martlew 5,017 11.8 −2.2
UKIP Will Burrows 1,321 3.1 N/A
Majority 4,295 10.1 +6.3
Turnout 42,445 60.5 −11.0
Conservative hold Swing +3.1

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: West Suffolk[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Richard Spring 20,081 40.9 N/A
Labour Michael Jefferys 18,214 37.1 N/A
Liberal Democrat Adrian Graves 6,892 14.0 N/A
Referendum James J.T. Carver 3,724 7.6 N/A
Natural Law Alistair J.M. Shearer 171 0.3 N/A
Majority 1,867 3.8 N/A
Turnout 49,082 71.5 N/A
Conservative win (new seat)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ A county constituency (for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer)
  2. ^ As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.
  3. ^ Previously MP for the Bury St Edmunds seat
  4. ^ For example Thetford Forest, synonymous with Breckland.