JUBILANT Tory James Morris is celebrating after ending 13 years of Labour rule in Halesowen and
Rowley Regis with a comfortable victory.
He made history earlier today by becoming the first Conservative to represent part of Sandwell in the borough’s 36-year history.
However, it was the Halesowen wards of the constituency that won him his first seat in parliament, especially in Halesowen South where he claimed almost twice as many votes as Labour’s late entrant
The Worcestershire mother-of-two, who only had a month-long campaign after Labour stalwart Sylvia Heal announced her retirement at the 11th hour, polled
more votes that her Tory rival in the working class areas of Blackheath, Rowley and Cradley Heath and Old Hill.
But it was not enough to see off a Conservative victory as Mr Morris romped home with 18,115, compared to her 16,092 – a majority of 2,023.
It was a crushing defeat for Labour after holding the seat since the constituency was formed in 1997, but three times Labour winner Sylvia Heal who had supported Mrs Hayman throughout her campaign,
believed the seat would be “easily winnable” next time.
She said Mrs Hayman had made a “great impression” in a short time and would make a very good candidate if she decided to stand again.
Mr Morris, aware of the split vote within the constituency, vowed to work for “all the people of Halesowen and Rowley Regis” whether or not they had voted for him.
“This has been a culmination of two years hard work and I am very pleased and relieved to have achieved victory, with a 10 per cent swing.
“I am looking forward to serving the people of Halesowen and Rowley Regis. This is a moment of history and I intend to be an MP for all the people,” he said, adding: “I will fight to restore faith
in politics and restore faith in democracy and will fight for the future of our country.
“I will be an MP for everyone in Halesowen and Rowley Regis, whoever you are and wherever you live.”
He paid tribute to Sylvia Heal, describing her as a “great servant of the people,” which was met by rapturous applause from all parties at the Cornbow
A disappointed Mrs Hayman said she would have to take stock before deciding whether to stand again either in Halesowen and Rowley Regis or anywhere else in a future general election.
She said: “James Morris has been here for a couple of years and I have had five weeks. I have had a great campaign team, Sylvia has been very supportive and we have worked very hard.
“I understand that they expected to win by about 4,000 so we have kept their majority down,”
Liberal Democrat Philip Tibbetts, who hit the headlines when his flag design for Halesowen failed to be adopted after losing in a competition, gained 6,515 votes, 1,311 more than his predecessor in
the 2005 general election.
Derek Baddeley (UKIP) gained 2,824 votes and Derek Thompson (Independent) received 433 votes.
The turnout was 65.7 per cent, although some of the Halesowen polling stations saw more then 70 per cent of eligible voters. The total number of votes cast was 44,120, compared to 41,327 in 2005.