With a General Election less than 18 months away, a war of words has broken out between Filton’s long-serving MP Jack Lopresti and his Labour challenger Claire Hazelgrove.
Mr Lopresti has claimed Labour activists have been telling voters on the doorstep that he does not live in the Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency.
He says he has lived in the constituency since 2006, in Filton, Frenchay, Almondsbury, Bradley Stoke and he currently lives near Almondsbury.
Ms Hazelgrove said activists were briefed to ask people about local and national issues that matter to them on the doorstep, talk about Labour’s five missions to tackle the issues facing communities and the country, and find out if they know how they’ll be voting next time.
Mr Lopresti told Filtonvoice: “In recent weeks, I have been contacted by and spoken with a number of my constituents who have told me that my political opponents (the Labour Party) have been telling people that I don’t live in my constituency.
“I would be very disappointed if my Labour opponent has been doing this herself.
“The Labour Party did this throughout the 2019 General Election campaign, but I honestly thought they would’ve learnt a lesson from that result.
“I have lived here in this constituency since 2006. I have lived in Filton, Frenchay, Almondsbury, Bradley Stoke and I currently live near Almondsbury. I was born in Southmead Hospital, and I have lived and worked in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area all my life. These are the facts.
“So could I ask all the candidates who are standing in the forthcoming General Election that we treat each other with respect and courtesy, especially when we are talking to the people we are seeking the great honour of representing.”
Ms Hazelgrove said: “If the current Conservative MP has renewed his interest in our area then this is something we can all celebrate, even if this happens to coincide with a General Election approaching.
“In the local Labour Party, we’re out listening to people every week, all year round. While nobody is encouraged to raise the issue of how he splits his time between his families in Yorkshire and here, alongside time in London, understandably this is a fair question local people have.
“Indeed, people here tell us time and again how fed up they are with having an invisible, low impact MP who prioritises voting for things like dumping sewage in our waterways, cutting free school meals in a pandemic, and keeping parents here in the dark about crumbling local school buildings.
“With bills up, crime up and waiting lists up – and an MP who didn’t even show up when decency in parliament was being voted on – it’s no surprise that local people wonder how he is spending his time.
“After 13 long years of his tired and failed party in government, crashing the economy on a whim – hiking mortgages for hard working people and taking hard-earned dreams away – I’ll never shy away from tackling the big issues, asking the tough questions and putting local people first.”
Mr Lopresti has been the MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke since 2010 and won in 2019 with a majority of 5,646 over Labour.
Ms Hazelgrove, a Stoke Gifford-based community and political engagement director for a ‘social good’ company, was confirmed as the Labour candidate in November last year.