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Diss and Harleston: Waveney Valley candidate Richard Rout pledges to safeguard the interests of the countryside

A parliamentary candidate has pledged to be a “defender of the countryside” after outlining his key priorities ahead of the next general election.

Richard Rout, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, has confirmed he will contest the Waveney Valley seat, which covers Diss and Harleston, when current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announces a national vote.

The Conservative candidate, who lives in Suffolk and spends a lot of time with his fiance in the Mellis area, will be among the front-runners for the seat, which will also be contested by Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay.

Richard Rout, Conservative candidate for the new Waveney Valley seatPicture: Mecha Morton
Richard Rout, Conservative candidate for the new Waveney Valley seatPicture: Mecha Morton

“I plan to work tirelessly and will take nothing for granted,” said the 44-year-old.

“There is hard work ahead but our message is that we are defenders of the countryside. We need to draw jobs and skills in to the area and we need to promote what the Waveney Valley has to offer in terms of tourism and the incredible produce we have here.

“This is a real centre for agriculture and that also brings opportunities to further advance agricultural technology.

“We also need opportunities for young people, more jobs and housing – which the newly approved neighbourhood plan will form an important and positive part of. This will help provide affordable housing and get more people on the property ladder.”

Mr Rout also highlighted his concerns over national infrastructure projects such as the ongoing Norwich to Tillbury pylon scheme.

“I will be looking to press National Grid to properly explore alternatives, because it appears they have not properly costed or explained what offshore grid options have been explored,” he added.

“I specialised in nationally significant infrastructure projects while part of the county council, and there needs to be due regard for agricultural land.

“We can’t deliver energy security at the expense of food security. Many of these schemes are also set to be in place for 40 years, but are described as temporary. I would like to see a 25-year break period – but it is also important that solar panels are placed on rooftops.”

Alongside his aims to press National grid and safeguard agriculture, Mr Rout outlined his hopes of improving services in the region, and making them more accessible.

“So many towns say they feel forgotten,” he said. “Connectivity and access to digital and physical services is a real issue, and there are public transport problems facing people in Gislingham, Bressingham and Diss.

“We need to bring more funding in to public transport, but also improve access to dentists, doctors, banking and post offices. Having health hubs and access to these services on every High Street is very important.

“There are many opportunities to make improvements, and while we have some work to do to restore trust in our party, if elected, I will help this constituency to build a fantastic identity.”

Mr Rout, who has five dogs and has spent his life living in the countryside, hopes to move closer to Diss or Harleston if he is elected.

The Waveney Valley seat was implemented by the Boundary Commission following a review of constituencies across England.