IT'S been a busy General Election day in Oswestry and residents have had their say on who should be North Shropshire MP for the next five years.

Owen Paterson has been MP for the constituency since 1997 with the Conservatives dominant for many decades.

James Wakefield, on work experience at the Border Counties Advertizer, spent the day in Oswestry grasping the thoughts of voters to compile his own mini-blog:


09:20am: It's a grey morning in Oswestry as Advertizer reporter James Wakefield heads out to get a sense of what local people think about today's general election. So far it's been quiet on Festival Square, but this may be due to the drizzle.

09:25: The flow of people into the polling station is beginning to pick up. They're wisely sporting umbrellas: I wish I'd thought of that.

09:31: A man leaving the polling station says he's had enough of the election. No doubt he'll have to put up with more coverage over the next few weeks, but at least the campaigning is over!

09:38: Outside the polling station, a woman says she decided some time ago who she would be voting for. She has been following the election coverage and the TV debates, but these have only reinforced her conviction. Asked what issues particularly swung her decision, she says "we need the economy to grow".

09:44: On Cross Street, a man says he voted as soon as the polls opened this morning. This is the second General Election in which he has been eligible to vote, and in 2010 he voted for the Liberal Democrats.

This time, though, he's gone for Labour: "I support the Lib Dems in principle," he says, "but I couldn't vote for them again after what the coalition has put us through."

9:48: The rain is getting worse, but Oswestry residents are still braving the elements to come in and vote. My notepad is getting wet so I'm quickly dashing back to the office to fetch an umbrella.

9:57: Back at the Memorial Hall, a man says he's just voted for the Green Party. However, he hadn't intended to vote at all.

"The Greens wouldn't be good nationally," he says, "but locally they'd be better than Owen Paterson (Conservative candidate)."

10:06: A woman on Cross Street says she will be voting for Conservative incumbent Owen Paterson. The cuts have been tough for some, she says, but there's no realistic chance of fixing the economy without them. Oswestry today looks better than it did five years ago, she adds.

10:15: On Festival Square, a young man from Llynclys says he will vote later today. He hasn't decided which way he'll cast his vote. He's been following the election coverage on TV, but he thinks that each party has been telling us only the good things about itself and ignoring the bad. He doesn't expect to make a decision until he's in the polling booth.

10:25: A woman says that this is "a very important election," and she will vote after she's done her shopping. She has a pretty firm idea of which way she'll vote, she says, but hearing the candidates make their cases at the local hustings gave her pause for thought.


13:10: It's lunchtime and the sun is out, so I'm once again heading out into Oswestry to try to take the town's political pulse. 

13:18: There are lots of people around, but so far I'm struggling to find any that want to chat about the election. "It's boring!" says one woman I approach on Church Street. Maybe everyone just has things to do before it starts raining again.

13:24: On New Street I meet a married couple who say they will both be voting Labour. They are retired teachers and have been "pretty appalled" with the Conservative government's education policy.

13:31: Three women seem to be feeling ambivalent about the election. They will "probably" vote later on, they say, but they don't have any definite ideas about which candidates they prefer.

13:39: Near Festival Square I meet a lifelong Labour supporter who voted this morning. Asked whether she thinks Ed Miliband would make a good prime minister, she says she's reserving judgement, but "anything would be better than the current lot."

13:45: I meet another reluctant voter. A student, the man says he doesn't much admire any of the parties, but feels that he ought to vote.

13:52: It has been interesting to see the differences in how people understanding what they are voting for.

More people than I expected know something about their local candidates: they know that they are not voting only for a party, but also for an individual member of parliament. Others know which party they mean to vote for regardless of who the candidate happens to be.

Owen Paterson's name has come up more often than any other, but this was to be expected. He is, after all, the incumbent.

But several other people have mentioned particular candidates, too, because they know them personally or have seen them at hustings.