Voters across Sussex will go to the polls next year to determine who controls Parliament and the country for the next five years.

For the first time since 1997, the county is expected to see a number of closely fought battles which could determine which party holds the keys to Number 10

The Argus has spoken to people in six key constituencies, from Chichester to Camber, ahead of the election about the mood on the ground and how results could play out on election day.

Today, we look at the newly redrawn Mid Sussex constituency, which has undergone a radical transformation due to boundary changes. East Grinstead, along with villages such as Scaynes Hill and West Hoathly, have broken away to form part of a new constituency, while Mid Sussex has expanded south to include Hassocks, Pyecombe and Fulking.

On paper, the constituency should be solidly Conservative, as it has been for generations.

However, amid a collapse in support for the Tories nationally and incumbent MP Mims Davies set to contest the East Grinstead and Uckfield seat, the stage is now set for Mid Sussex to become a hotly contested race.

Pollsters are forecasting the constituency to be Sussex’s first three-way marginal for more than a decade with the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all vying to win.

'Tories know cost of everything and value of nothing'

Such is the scale of Labour’s current national polling lead that election forecaster Electoral Calculus currently predicts the party will win in Mid Sussex.

The party’s only councillor on the district council, Paul Kenny, said resident have become disaffected with the government and the Conservative Party more broadly.

He said: “Is the Conservative Party even capable of even putting forward a solution to any of the problems people are facing? The short answer is no - they have no idea.

“They have no active positive ideas. They’re incapable.

“The Conservative Party knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

“Listen to the Today programme when a minister comes on and is challenged about the state of some services. Every single time, they will give the statistic of how much money they’ve put into it, but they never talk about the outcomes.

“In the early days of New Labour, Tony Blair would say never mind about public ownership, it’s about outcomes. We want the best vehicle for getting the best outcome for public services and it was that focus that led to the drop in waiting lists under the Labour government and it’s that sort of focus which will lead to improvements under Keir Starmer.”

The Argus: Councillor Paul Kenny and Greg MountainCouncillor Paul Kenny and Greg Mountain (Image: The Argus)

Cllr Kenny said people on the doorstep, including lifelong Tories, have said that they cannot vote for the Conservatives.

While some of those voters are not quite ready to commit to voting for Labour next time around, he believes they are open to the prospect.

He said: “I wouldn’t say that en masse people are making the move to Labour, but what they are very clear about is that they have completely lost faith in this government and the Conservative Party.”

Labour has yet to select its candidate for the next election.

Greg Mountain, who came second for Labour in 2015 and 2017 in Mid Sussex, said a Labour MP for the area would be historic.

"A Labour MP would work with people for their benefit and make Mid Sussex an even better place to live," he said.

'Deep-seated disenchantment with politicians'

The Argus: Liberal Democrat candidate Alison BennettLiberal Democrat candidate Alison Bennett (Image: Alison Bennett)

However, Alison Bennett, who became deputy leader of Mid Sussex District Council earlier this year, is adamant Mid Sussex is a fight between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Ms Bennett, the Lib Dem candidate for the seat at the next election, points to the party’s success at the local elections and the decision of Mims Davies to leave for a seat that is expected to be more solidly Conservative.

“That tells you everything you need to know,” she said.

“In the last general election, we came second behind the Conservatives… and we won the largest share of the vote in the local elections.

“We’ve got 20 seats on the council and they are concentrated in the new Mid Sussex constituency.

“We don’t presume anything and we work hard and talk to people, but when you put that all together what’s happening in the national polls is not relevant - it’s not looking at what’s happening locally.”

Ms Bennett said the Liberal Democrats'  “pavement politics” to appeal to communities was not something other parties had been doing in the area, which has helped them build trust among voters.

She said: “There is a general feeling that politicians are all the same.

“I don’t think I’m like Boris Johnson, but there is this deep-seated disenchantment.

“We’re seeing a lot of lifelong Conservative voters here who have voted Conservative for a set of values about pragmatism, low taxes, being responsible with the economy - and then they look at what the government’s done in the last four years.

“What people who are in that frame of mind decide to do at the next election is going to be absolutely fascinating. My job is to make sure that when residents go to vote, they’re not thinking ‘I want Starmer, I want Sunak’, they’re thinking who is the best MP for Mid Sussex.”

'I am to maintain Mid Sussex's Conservative legacy'

To defend the constituency and keep it blue at the next election, the Conservatives have chosen Kristy Adams, who stood for election in Hove in 2017.

During her campaign in Hove, it was reported that Ms Adams had claimed to have cured a man’s deafness through the power of prayer.

The Argus: Conservative candidate Kristy AdamsConservative candidate Kristy Adams

The Argus approached Ms Adams for an interview. Instead, she sent a statement about her values and sense of community.

She said: “Born and bred in beautiful Mid Sussex, my passion for the community runs deep. As a child of a nurse and a business consultant, I was instilled with a strong sense of public service and hard work.

“Championing the constituents of Mid Sussex is my priority. I am to secure funding for local development, improve medical services and enhance sports facilities.

“Tackling housing issues and boosting digital connectivity in our villages are also on my agenda.

“My love for Sussex’s countryside and dedication to solving local issues are matched only by my determination to uphold Conservative values and drive legislative change.

“As a businesswoman and seasoned campaigner, I aim to maintain Mid Sussex’s Conservative legacy and would be honoured to serve as your representative.

“My commitment to community service is unwavering, and I continue to find innovative ways to support and connect with people from all walks of life.”