Constituency report: Westmorland and Lonsdale

Credit: ITV Border

Westmorland and Lonsdale was a Conservative stronghold in the years following its creation in 1983.

However that all changed in 2005 when Liberal Democrat Tim Farron won the seat, a victory he repeated in 2010 with the biggest majority of any in the Border region.

The constituency

Geographically, the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency covers parts of two national parks - the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

It includes the market towns of Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale and Windermere.

At the 2010 General Election, the constituency had the highest turnout in the region.

The breakdown of the result was as follows:

Liberal Democrat Tim Farron was 23.8% ahead of his closest rival from the Conservative Party Credit: ITV Border

So what issues are important to voters in the constituency?

At a glance:

  • Tourism and farming are the main employers in the region

  • The constituency has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country

  • It has the fourth highest rate of houses classed as second homes

  • 24.2% of its population is over 65

In the village of Elterwater in the Langdale valley, 85% of properties are not lived in permanently.

Some fear this could threaten local communities.

It's a beautiful place to live but there's no affordable housing for 'younguns'. I would say in another 15 years, there's not going to be anybody that can be classed as local because there'll be no local people left." > >

Bob Burgin, Britannia Inn

Others claim house prices in the area are too high, and that it's difficult for young people to get on the property ladder.

Housing is a very difficult one. I think in this area it's almost impossible for people - even with the affordable houses that have been built - to generate enough capital to put down a deposit or to generate enough money from their weekly income to pay a mortgage, unless they're supported by their parents. I think I'm part of the fortunate generation that was able to make money out of buying a house. The house prices have gone up, now they've gone through the roof and the gap between what people earned and what they have to pay has become impossible to bridge." > >

Will Garnett, a retired teacher and is trying to sell his house in Kendal.

Like many rural areas, transport is also a concern for some voters.

In the summer, there must be thousands of cars a day come up this valley road and it just seems like no money's invested here to fix the road." > >

ANDREW PARKER, Landlord of the Britannia Inn in Elterwater

The candidates

We asked some of the candidates standing for election on May 7 to tell us what it is that they think matters in the constituency:

Liberal Democrat candidate Tim Farron Credit: ITV Border

I'm going to continue to fight for our hospital and make sure we bring radiotherapy here to add to the chemotherapy we've already won here. Make sure we have health services close to people who live in this part of the world, make sure we continue with the apprenticeships, the three and a half thousand new apprenticeships for young people we brought here, make sure there's affordable homes for local families and for young people so they don't have to move away. Above all else for me, immersed in the community I live in, I just want to stand up for the people who live here and be their voice in Parliament."

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat candidate
Conservative candidate Ann Myatt Credit: ITV Border

If elected I would represent everybody to the best of my ability, I would work hard both within Parliament and locally, the key issues i see here are we need more jobs, higher paid jobs, we need to improve our infrastructure, so that people can move around, housing is a very important issue but also the health service, we absolutely have to improve the health service for everybody, and that doesn't have to be through throwing money at it."

Ann Myatt, Conservative candidate
Labour candidate John Bateson Credit: ITV Border

Well Labour's priorities in Westmorland and Lonsdale are to ensure that more real affordable housing is available to local people, to defend and support the national health service, especially our local hospital here in Kendal, and to ensure that local businesses really get the support they need, and rolling out broadband throughout the Lakes is such an essential part of that."

John Bateson, Labour candidate
UKIP candidate Alan Piper Credit: ITV Border

If elected I would do my best to support Mr Farage, my particular interest is small business, I've had one for 15 years, and I think in particular VAT reform is very important, and Westmorland and Lonsdale is a constituency full of small businesses."

Alan Piper, UKIP candidate

The full list of candidates standing for election in Westmorland and Lonsdale is as follows:

  • John Bateson (Labour)

  • Tim Farron (Liberal Democrats)

  • Chris Loynes (Green Party)

  • Ann Myatt (Conservative)

  • Alan Piper (UKIP)

You can watch Fiona Marley Paterson's full report here: