GLOUCESTER has a new MP after Conservative candidate Richard Graham defeated Labour’s Parmjit Dhanda by more than 2,000 votes.
The result was declared at 5.45am after a long and tense night at the count at the Oxstalls Tennis Centre at Plock Court.
Mr Graham has pledged to make the city’s regeneration, bed cuts at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, and education in the city his top three priorities.
Mr Dhanda said it had been an honour to serve the city as MP for the last nine years.
Mr Graham polled a total of 20,267 votes, 40% of all ballots cast, while Mr Dhanda polled 17,847, or 35%.
It was a disappointing night for Liberal Democrat candidate Jeremy Hilton, who trailed in third with 9,767 votes.
Mr Graham, speaking directly after the results were announced, said: “Gloucester has voted decisively for change, and since the way we vote normally reflects the way the country votes, I hope we will have a new Government and a new Prime Minister in David Cameron.”
He thanked his supporters, and his wife, for her support during the three and a half years since his candidacy was announced.
He also paid tribute to Mr Dhanda, saying: “Let us all be aware that being an MP is not easy, especially during the worst recession we have seen for many years.
“I want to thank Mr Dhanda for his hard work for Gloucester, and wish him wellfor his future back in London.
“You are still young, and we will hear much more of you in the future.”
He added: “I promise you today that our city is my cause, and I will work with everyone here to make our city better, and to use our resources to ensure we create a better future for Gloucester.”
Mr Dhanda addressed the hall, saying: “I congratulate my successor and all the candidates in what has been a fun election.”
He added: “When you come into politics, your aim has to be that when you leave, what you leave behind is better and in a stronger position than when you arrived.
“Nine years down the road even my worst detractors would have to say this city has improved immeasurably.
“I am proud of that, and the vast majority of people who live in the city should be proud of that too.”
Mr Dhanda also said he would not be leaving Gloucester, saying: “Richard may wish for me to go back to London, but Gloucester is home for me, it is where my children were born, and it’s where I live and feel at home.”
Speaking after the count, Richard Graham said: “It is very exciting, I am delighted my campaign made people vote for me, we have had people working non-stop.
“There is a large amount of things to do. I want to review the city’s regeneration, especially the railway triangle, which seems to have stagnated.
“I also want to review the proposed cuts to beds at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
Richard Graham (C) 20,267 (39.92%)
Parmjit Dhanda (Lab) 17,847 (35.16%)
Jeremy Hilton (LD) 9,767 (19.24%)
Mike Smith (UKIP) 1,808 (3.56%)
Alan Platt (Eng Dem) 564 (1.11%)
Bryan Meloy (Green) 511 (1.01%)
Con maj 2,420 (4.77%)
Notional 8.86% swing Lab to Con
8.86% boundary change
Electorate 79,322; Turnout 50,764 (64.00%)
2005 notional: Lab maj 6,063 (12.95%) – Turnout 46,821 (62.50%)
Lab 22,289 (47.60%); C 16,226 (34.66%); LD 6,409 (13.69%); UKIP 1,116
(2.38%); Green 781 (1.67%)