THE FORMER Conservative stronghold of Solihull has returned to Conservative control following a crushing victory by Julian Knight who stole back the seat from Lorely Burt.
Former journalist Mr Knight was announced the winner – and new borough MP – at the North Solihull Leisure Centre after securing a convincing victory over his Lib Dem opponent – and now former MP Lorely Burt – with roughly 49 per cent of the vote (26,956 votes) compared to Mrs Burt’s 14,054 votes.
UKIP’s Phil Henrick came in third place with 6,361 votes, while Nigel Knowles secured just 5,694 votes for The Labour Party in Meriden.
While Labour have never polled particularly highly in the Solihull constituency, Mr Knowles’ poor record mirrored the losses and disappointing results seen by the party at polls across the country.
Elsewhere, Howard Allen won 1,632 votes for The Green Party, Mike Nattrass secured 50 votes for An Indpendence from Europe, and Matthew Ward brought up the rear with 33 votes cast for The Democratic Party.
Turnout was high with 70.41 per cent of the 77,251 Solihull residents registered to vote making it to polling stations or postal voting – a marginal decrease from the 71.9 per cent at the 2010 general election.
Taking the microphone after the declaration, Mr Knight thanked the ‘hundreds’ of people who had helped him on the road to victory over the last two years – including volunteers who had helped him canvas, students at the University of Warwick, and his wife Philippa.
Mr Knight was met by a mixture of jeers and applause when he went on to thank his fellow Green, UKIP and Labour candidates for running a ‘clean campaign on issues’ – adding that the people of Solihull wanted candidates who spoke about policy rather than personality.
Speaking to Observer reporter Lauren Clarke, he said he was ‘stunned and humbled’ by the faith Silhillians had placed in him, pledging that he will try and return this in hard work and dedication over the next five years.
Attributing his success to his grass-roots level, door-to-door campaigning, Mr Knight said he hoped his victory would ‘herald a new era’ of cross-community cohesion and work together.
Final results for Solihull constituency:
Julian Knight (Conservative) – 26,956
Lorely Burt (Liberal Democrats) – 14,054
Phil Henrick (UKIP) – 6,361
Nigel Knowles (Labour) – 5,694
Howard Allen (Greens) – 1,632
Mike Nattrass (An Indpendence From Europe) – 50
Matthew Ward (Democratic) – 33
Spoiled ballot papers: 140