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  1. ITV Report

What hope of a Lib Dem recovery in the Anglia region?

Norman Lamb MP makes a speech at the Liberal Democrats conference at the Bournemouth International Centre. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images

The Liberal Democrats used to be the second place party in the East of England but now have only one MP and have lost dozens of councillors in the past few years.

The party met this week in Bournemouth for their annual conference with a new leader Sir Vince Cable.

The party's only representative in the House of Commons from the Anglia region is Norman Lamb who has served as North Norfolk MP since 2001.

The party trumpets its success in recruiting new members but is still struggling to win back voters.

  • Watch a report on the Liberal Democrat Conference by ITV News Anglia's Political Correspondent Emma Hutchinson

At the 2010 General election, the Liberals Democrats gained 23% of the vote in the Anglia region knocking Labour into third place with 20%.

They sent four MP from the region to Westminster from Cambridge, Colchester, Norwich and North Norfolk.

After five years in coalition government with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems were punished by the voters at the 2015 election.

In the Anglia region the party's share of the vote slumped to 7.5% and they were knocked into fourth place behind UKIP. Three of the four local MPs lost their seats.

And in the surprise General Election just two years later, their standing had dropped back further with only 7.3% of the vote.

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable (left) is congratulated by Sarah Olney and Layla Moran MP (right) after giving his keynote speech at his party's annual conference. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images

"What happened in the General Election was a bizarre race. Theresa May turned in into a presidential race and then ran away from being president.

"People were voting, not on Brexit or anything else, but do you like Theresa May or do you not like Theresa May? We weren't the answer to that question.

"I think the fights to come will be about Brexit and how do we deal the problems caused by Brexit."

– Julian Huppert, former Lib Dem MP for Cambridge

The party's only MP in the East, Norman Lamb, is stepping down from his frontbench role as Health spokesman to concentrate on his new position as chair of the Commons' Science & Technology Select Committee.

Mr Lamb has found himself at odds with the party over Brexit, saying Leave voters felt the Lib Dems were treating them like "idiots".

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb giving his last speech as Lib Dem health spokesman at the party conference in Bournemouth. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images

The North Norfolk MP told the Press Association this week the Lib Dems needed to "start thinking again", coming up with ideas to address the concerns of voters who often felt powerless in the face of bureaucracy and large corporations.

The former coalition health minister said the Lib Dems should to be prepared to point out the European Union's faults and had to understand why voters were angry with modern society.

  • Click to watch a report on the final day of the Lib Dem Conference by ITV Anglia's Political Correspondent Emma Hutchinson