GENERAL ELECTION 2015: Fylde counts underway as exit polls predict Cameron win

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Election counts are now well underway across the Fylde coast.

Polling stations in the Blackpool South, Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Fylde, Wyre and Preston North and Lancaster and Fleetwood closed at 10pm.

And counts have now begun in each constituency, with results expected to be announced between 3am and 8am.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys and Blackpool South are two of the most intriguing and tightly contested battlegrounds in the country.

In Blackpool North, Conservative Paul Maynard is looking to retain his seat in the face of competition from Labour’s Sam Rushworth, Sue Close (Lib Dem), Simon Noble (UKIP), John Warnock (Green) and the Northern Party’s James Walsh.

Meanwhile in Blackpool South, Labour’s Gordon Marsden is attempting to retain his seat against challengers Peter Anthony (Conservative), UKIP’s Peter Wood, independant candidates Andy Higgins and Lawrence Chard, Bill Green (Lib Dem) and Duncan Ryle (Green)

David Cameron

David Cameron

Turnout in Blackpool South anticipated at more than 55 per cent and is expected to be more than 60 percent in Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

In Wyre and Preston North, sitting Conservative MP Ben Wallace is defending a huge majority of almost 16,000 after he took 26,877 in May 2010.

This time Mr Wallace’s seat is being contested by four candidates – Labour’s Benjamin Whittingham, Liberal Democrat John Potter, UKIP’s Kate Walsh and Anne Power of the Green Party.

The seat, created following boundary changes before the last election, draws in part of the old Lancaster and Wyre and Blackpool North and Fleetwood constituencies, which were scrapped. The constituency, one of the most affluent in West Lancashire, includes rural villages and the desirable living areas of Garstang and Poulton.

In Fylde, where turnout is predicted at 70 per cent, Conservative Mark Menzies is defending a Parliamentary majority of 13,185 and faces six challengers - Elizabeth Clarkson of the Northern Party, Bob Dennett of the Green Party, Independent Mike Hill, Freddie Van Mierlo of the Liberal Democrats, Jed Sullivan of the Labour Party and Paul White of the UK Independence Party.

Fylde has long been traditionally seen as a safe Conservative seat, with the party’s biggest majority since the constituency took on its current form in 1983 20,991 in 1992 and the smallest 8,693 in 1997.

Fracking is seen as a key issue at the election, with proposals to drill for shale gas at two sites in rural Fylde set to be discussed by Lancashire County Council planners in June.

Fylde residents are today casting their votes on all 51 seats on Fylde Council along with representatives in 15 parish and town councils across the borough.

Finally, in Lancaster and Fleetwood, where results are expected to be declared much later than the other seats, ballot boxes were received at Lancaster’s Salt Ayre sports centre at 12.30am.

The seat is another key marginal, with Conservative Eric Ollerenshaw facing competition from Labour’s Cat Smith, Robin Long, of the Lib Dems, Green Party’s Chris Coates, Matthew Atkins (UKIP) and the Northern Party’s Harold Elletson.

Nationally the Conservatives are being predicted to be the single biggest party in the House of Commons after an exit poll appeared to put David Cameron on track to remain in 10 Downing Street.

A joint BBC/ITN/Sky poll put Conservatives on 316 - just 10 short of the magic number of 326 needed to command an absolute majority in the House of Commons.

Labour were forecast to secure just 239 - 17 fewer than their tally at the start of the election campaign - with the Scottish National Party achieving almost a clean sweep of 58 of the 59 seats north of the border.

Liberal Democrats were predicted to be reduced to a rump of just 10 seats - just enough to form a viable coalition with Tories - while Ukip were forecast to win two constituencies, securing their first ever General Election victories.

The exit poll of around 22,000 voters at 141 locations was dramatically at odds with polling during the election campaign, which suggested right up to the last day that Conservatives and Labour were heading for a dead heat.

A YouGov ballot-day poll of 6,000 people who had voted painted a much brighter picture for Mr Miliband, putting Labour and Tories tied on 34% each, Ukip on 12%, Lib Dems on 10%, the SNP and Plaid Cymru on 5% and Greens on 4%.