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Newspaper group to publish poll of 1,000 voters’ views

A regional publisher has commissioned a county-wide poll of voters’ views ahead of the General Election.

The KM Group, which publishes a series of weekly titles including the Kent Messenger, has teamed up with a market research company to carry out the exclusive poll.

The survey of 1,000 Kent residents was carried out by Ashford-based Facts International and identifies the key issues and concerns for voters ahead of the 7 May election.

Those surveyed gave their views on topics including taxation, schools, crime and transport and the findings will form part of the group’s election website, which will be launched on Friday.

The results will also be published across all the publisher’s newspapers and digital platforms.

Chief whip Michael Gove, right, is pictured with Medway Messenger editor Bob Bounds on a visit to the newspaper's office.

Chief whip Michael Gove, right, is pictured with Medway Messenger editor Bob Bounds on a visit to the newspaper’s office this week.

KM Group editorial director Ian Carter added: “This is set to be one of the closest-fought General Elections in the county for generations. Whilst Kent has traditionally been True Blue, the Ukip factor has changed the dynamics completely.

“However, there are other key issues for the county such as our rail infrastructure, crime rates and education. This is certainly the largest survey we have every been involved in, and the results should be fascinating.

“It’s important the results are credible, and we are delighted to be working with Facts International. They have built up a fantastic reputation over the last 30 years.”

Kent is set to be in the spotlight throughout the election campaign because Ukip leader Nigel Farage is standing in South Thanet, a seat currently held by the Conservatives.

The party also made headlines in Rochester and Strood, where Tory Mark Reckless defected to Ukip last September forcing a by-election, and in Folkestone and Hythe where its candidate Janice Atkinson was sacked following allegations about an expenses claim.

However, the KM Group’s survey found that, despite the publicity surrounding Ukip, immigration was not the most important issue for voters in the county.

Facts International’s chief executive Crispin Beale said: “Facts International is delighted to partner with the KM Group to uncover the issues that matter to the voters of Kent.

“Not only is Kent a key county of national interest in this supposedly ‘toughest to call’ election, but the results of this poll will hopefully allow Kent’s representatives to reflect their constituents’ views when they take their seats in parliament.”