Bedford is one of the key battleground seat in the Anglia region being a Conservative-Labour marginal. The Conservative majority is just over 1,300 votes so Labour could win with a swing of just 1.5%.
Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, and an industrialised market town that continues to grow. It lies 50 miles north of London and today the seat is in one of the most cosmopolitan areas outside of the capital. Almost 50 separate ethnic groups are represented in the Borough of Bedford including Italians, Irish, Black, Asian, Greek and Polish groups.
The area retains its high levels of manufacturing, which is the highest in the South East outside London. The constituency has a wide range of employment opportunities, for instance in brewing and light industry.
There are excellent transport links by rail and road, making it a major commuter area for London. This is reflected in the high numbers of those in managerial, professional and technical jobs. The University of Bedfordshire, formally De Montfort University, has a presence in Bedford.
- Conservative majority in 2010: 1,353
- Bedford is Labour target number 4 in the Anglia region and target number 24 nationally
- Labour would need a swing of 1.5% to win in 2015 and the Lib Dems would need a 9.5% swing
Bedford does tend to switch allegiances between Labour and the Conservatives although it had a Tory MP for 48 of the past 65 years.
In the 2010 General Election, Conservative Richard Fuller beat Labour's Patrick Hall. He had been the MP since 1997.
The Bedford constituency is a part of the wider Bedford Borough Council unitary authority. It is the only area of the Anglia region to have an elected Mayor. The Liberal Democrat currently hold the post but that is also subject to an election on 7 May.
There are also elections for all the councillors on Bedford Borough Council. That council has been hung since 1986 with no one party enjoying an overall majority.
Click below to watch a report on the Bedford constituency by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson
Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft has been conducting opinion polls in marginal seats across the UK.
A snapshot poll in the Bedford constituency in August 2014 suggested Labour had a 10 point lead over the Conservatives of 38% to 28%.
Candidates in 2015
- Faruk Choudhury - No description
- Ben Foley - Green
- Richard Fuller - Conservative
- Patrick Hall - Labour
- Mahmud Henry Rogers - Liberal Democrats
- Charlie Smith - UKIP