OVERJOYED Conservative Stephen Mosley starts work today at the new MP for the City of Chester.
He triumphed over Christine Russell in yesterday’s general election and in so doing took the Tories' number one hit list seat in the North West.
Mr Mosley, deputy leader of the former Chester City Council, now enjoys a majority of nearly 2,600 after wiping out Mrs Russell’s wafer thin 915 lead earned in the election five years ago.
Chester, described as an “ultra marginal” by the political pundits, is now back in Conservative hands after three general election successes by Labour. Before that it had been Tory for most of the 20th century.
Mrs Russell started out in 1997 with a 10,500 majority over Tory television celebrity Gyles Brandreth but her margin of success was slowly but surely whittled away over the years.
Overall turnout yesterday was up by about 2.5 per cent at just under 68 per cent and and in some parts of the city more than eight of 10 voters turned up at polling stations.
After the result was declared at about 2.30am today there was a friendly exchange of words between Mr Mosley and his predecessor.
In his acceptance speech Mr Mosley thanked all the election staff who had worked so hard.
“There have been some problems along the way but we have shown they can be solved.
“I also thank everyone who helped out these past few months and I also thank my opponents. All candidates have fought a clean and honest campaign.
“Lastly can I give my appreciation to Mrs Russell. We may not agree on many issues, but I know she has always had the best interests of Chester at heart.
“It was a very hard-fought campaign but we all got along well.”
He added: “I am looking forward to the challenges. To be honest I’m very apprehensive about being an MP. It is a huge big responsibility to be put in my shoulders.
“The country is in a crisis. Like every MP, the biggest concern is the state of the economy and making sure our children and grandchildren are not left with a huge, huge debt.
“It has been 18 years since the Conservatives have won in Chester. The first thing that we have to do is address the deficit.
“The deficit is out of control and we have to put it right. I think people here are ready for a change.
“We have to work with the local council to protect jobs in Chester and keep the economy growing.”
Mrs Russell, a city councillor for 17 years before becoming MP, responded: “Thank you to all the polling staff. I know today you have been challenged, especially with the difficulties at some of the polling stations with some people being turned away.”
She went on: “It has been a huge privilege to represent this city. Chester is a far better place than it was in 1997. Please Steve, carry on the great work of the Labour government.
“People have asked me what I will do now. I have got some new challenges I am looking forward to. I have two grandchildren in Manchester and a third on the way very soon.”
Earlier in the day Labour had complained that records featuring the 632 latest entrants on the electoral register, those who applied to be able to vote between April 28 and May 4, had not filtered down to individual polling stations.
Labour made an official complaint to Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) electoral registration officials that some people had turned up at polling stations only to be told there was no record of them being on the register.
They were advised by election staff to return to polling booths later in the day to give them time to check with town hall officials that they were indeed on the register.
Mrs Russell said she had to spend time arranging for people to vote when she should have been out meeting voters.
CWaC chief executive Steve Robinson said: “There might have been a bit of an issue – these things happen – but anyone who wanted to vote could vote. No-one was turned away.
“They just had to come back later.”