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Welcome to The Conversation: Sunderland has other things on its mind other than finishing fastest

Throughout the campaign we will be hearing from people about the issues that are important to them as they decide how to vote.

Tonight in the first of our reports on 'The Conversation' that's happening up and down the country - Geraint Vincent has been to Sunderland.

Traditionally one of the first places to declare on election night and historically Labour territory. 61 percent voted to Leave in 2016 - so is Brexit the only issue on voters' minds?

Come election time, they count the votes quickly in Sunderland.

In fact, the local council prides itself on declaring the results in the three city constituencies more quickly than anywhere else.

By drafting hundreds of people to run ballot boxes in to the Silksworth leisure centre, that the electoral authorities will try to break the record again in five weeks’ time is beyond doubt.

But other certainties in this corner of the north-east have to be cast aside.

Sunderland has delivered thumping Labour majorities for decades, and while few would bet against Labour victories here again in 2019, the voters we spoke to at the leisure centre were less sure.

Because while Sunderland may be Labour, it also voted overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit. That fact has broken all the norms here.

ITV News launches 'The Conversation' for the election. Credit: .

There’s a huge amount of frustration that Brexit hasn’t been delivered, and that has attracted some traditional Labour supporters to the parties which are promising to make it happen quickly.

Which means votes for the Tories, and the Brexit Party.

The other problem for Labour here is the party leader. Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to the old Labour policies which used to play so well in the north-east, we found it hard to find anyone who actually wanted to vote for him.

There’s another factor at play - people are tired of strife. On the tennis court where the trestle tables will be set up in five weeks’ time, one woman spoke of her desperate hope for the election to provide some kind of settlement.

"People have been badly split," she said. "We need to repair ourselves."