Re-elected MP spells out his priorities
JAMES Heappey will press for more money for public services and improved digital connectivity after being re-elected as Conservative MP for Wells.
He fought off the challenge of Liberal Democrat Tess Munt to win with a majority of more than 7,500. Voter turnout was 73.8 per cent.
"It is a huge honour to be elected again as the Member of Parliament for Wells. Although the constituency extends well beyond the city, it is amazing to have such a vibrant community and so much history and heritage right at the heart of this fantastic constituency," he told Wells Voice.
"The work now continues to deliver the plans for our area that we were discussing on the doorstep over the last seven weeks. We are still too poorly connected – both digitally and by road and rail – and the formulas which allocate money from Central Government for our local public services are still stacked against us. I’ll continue my campaign to get improvement in those areas.
"We also need to make some progress on re-gearing our local economy. We’ve been blighted by low wages and low productivity for decades which means we need an industrial strategy for our county that focuses on the industries that will allow us to grow our economy and the prosperity of those who work here. An important part of that will be making sure we’ve got the right skills within our workforce.
"And finally, we need to make sure we get the right deal from Brexit for our community and for local businesses."
Ms Munt, who won the Wells seat in 2010 but was beaten by Mr Heappey at the previous general election in 2015, said: "When you look at the figures, as politicians do, we've done rather well. The Conservative majority has been reduced a little and bearing in mind that was a combination of UKIP and Conservatives, I think we should be celebrating."
She was elected a Somerset county councillor in May when she stood in Wells against Somerset County Council leader John Osman, and has said she will stand again at the next general election.
She added: "I'm back on the doorstep listening and talking to people locally, and I'm amazed at the huge level of disappointment in both David Cameron, for calling a referendum and then walking away when he didn't get the result he wanted, and in Theresa May, for her poor judgement in calling an election purely for political advantage, with no consideration for the fact that elections do not always deliver the result politicians want.
"I'm continuing to work with my colleagues to make sure that we get the best possible deal for this part of rural Somerset."
Andy Merryfield polled more than 7,000 votes for Labour, while Lorna Corke of the Christian Peoples Alliance picked up 320.
James Heappey 30,488
Tessa Munt 22,906
Andy Merryfield 7,129
Lorna Corke 320