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Hanson faces biggest test in over a decade; GENERAL ELECTION 2010: DELYN: Economy and local industry will be key.

Byline: RICHARD DOWN

DELYN, on the eastern side Flintshire, could be seen as a litmus test for the overall election performance of the main parties.

Labour's David Hanson, who is Gordon Brown's police minister, took the seat from the Conservatives back in 1992.

But this time he faces a former deputy chief constable in the shape of Bill Brereton (Lib Dem) and legal aid lawyer Antoinette Sandbach (Cons) who lost out on Welsh Assembly election by a matter of a few hundred votes in 2007.

Labour lost control of the council in 2008 to an Independent/Conservatives coalition, and the main parties scent blood.

So what on paper looks to be a fairly safe seat, where the Conservatives would need a 9.8% swing in their favour to win, could be a lot more closely fought than that.

Just to add a pugnacious kick into proceedings, BNP leader Nick Griffin has sent his daughter Jennifer Matthys into the fray and, with Polish immigration anecdotally said to be a major issue on the doorstep, the far right candidate could mean trouble in more than one sense of the word.

But it is crime and policing that are likely to surface as the real issues of credibility in Delyn.

Mr Hanson will have to convince the electorate of his performance as policing and prisons minister.

He said: "North Wales is one of the safest police force areas across England and Wales and this Government has given police the resources they need to drive down crime, down nationally by over 36% since 1997.

"Community policing here in Delyn and across North Wales has been a huge success.

"As Policing Minister I have ring-fenced funding for PCSOs, something which the Tories have refused to do."

But in a TV debate this week his Conservative opponent called Mr Hanson's statistics rubbish and was backed by Mr Brereton, who said the government had plainly got it wrong.

He advocates less red tape and government interference, a view that won murmurs of approval at the debate, at Flint Town Hall.

But former teacher Peter Ryder (Plaid Cymru) is focusing part of his election campaign on education.

Flintshire high schools are having to axe posts and the future of its rural primary schools, many of which are in the green hills of Delyn, is a hot topic at County Hall.

Schools are also having to repay pounds 1m after a council funding debacle.

Mr Ryder said: "The misallocation of money to schools is a major local issue.

"Funding is widely agreed to be pounds 300m per year short of our needs and although education and health are devolved the funding comes from the UK Treasury."

But Labour and Conservative's nationally have been keen to emphasise their intention to maintain funding in education.

While each of the candidates references the economy and local industry, little separates the candidates in terms of direct promises to Delyn workers.

It could end up being about whether Mr Brereton with his policing credentials splits the anti-Labour/time for change vote.

welshnews@dailypost.co.uk

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Crime is one of the major concerns for voters within Delyn
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 19, 2010
Words:524
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