The Liberal Democrats have begun pumping extra campaign resources into the Parliamentary constituency occupied for more than a decade by Tory grandee Nicholas Soames, The Argus has learned.

Campaign managers, buoyed by opinion polls recording a 10 percentage point increase in Lib Dem support nationally, believe that with just over a week to go before the general election on May 6, the Conservative constituency of Mid-Sussex is within the grasp of Lib Dem candidate Serena Tierney.

The party claims it was already optimistic about its chances of taking Eastbourne, where Conservative Nigel Waterson is defending a majority of just 755 when boundary changes are taken into account.

Now, following its recent surge, it says it has taken more donations locally and is spending more money on election leaflets and doing more campaigning in the area.

A Lib Dem source told The Argus: “We are stepping up our campaign in Mid-Sussex, which before was a secondary target, after Eastbourne, but now it’s all on the menu, and because of our poll surge it’s all going to be quite close.

“We were expecting to get pretty close - now, ten points up in polls, anything could happen on polling day, and we have more volunteers there, with extra literature and more money to spend on printing.”

The source, acknowledging Mr Soames’s high profile as a grandson of Winston Churchill and a former defence minister, added: “Soames would be quite a scalp.”