BURTON’S new Tory MP ‘hit the ground running’ after triumphing in the General Election to bring an end to 13 years of Labour representation for the town at Westminster. Andrew Griffiths met with prominent Burton business owners yesterday in a bid to ‘get the town’s economy moving’ – just hours after clinching the seat with a 6,304 majority over Labour rival Ruth Smeeth.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail he was ‘over the moon’ at the size of his mandate, having overturned Labour’s 1,421 majority from the 2005 election. He said: “I’m speechless. It’s been an incredibly hard campaign and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d have a majority of over 6,000. “It’s been clear over a number of months that people had lost faith in politics and politicians. We tried to earn people’s trust by engaging with them on the doorstep. “It wasn’t just Conservative voters who voted for me, and there are many people who have put their trust in me, and in my party, for the first time. “I feel an incredible responsibility to everyone in this constituency – not just those who voted for me.” Mr Griffiths placed economic prosperity at the heart of his campaign and said his meeting with business leaders – provisionally arranged before the votes were counted – would formulate a plan to bring new investment and jobs to Burton. He said: “There’s a whole range of issues which voters have been bringing up, such as immigration, the NHS and education, but my number one priority was to safeguard jobs at risk, to bring inward investment and to get people back to work. “I’m going to work with business, with Government agencies and with anybody I can to make sure we bring those desperately needed jobs to this area. “I’m going to work tirelessly. I said in my speech at the count that I wouldn’t let people down and that’s a pledge I intend to commit to.” Mr Griffiths polled 22,188 votes compared to Mrs Smeeth’s 15,884, an 8.7 per cent swing to the Tories based on notional figures for the 2005 election which take into account boundary changes. Speaking to supporters at Burton Town Hall after the result was announced shortly after 4am, Mr Griffiths said voters had backed him in order to ‘bring about real change, to mend our broken society, to fix our broken economy and to bring trust back to politics’. He said: “Burton is a great place to live and work but together we can make it an even better place. I will not let you down.” Liberal Democrat candidate Michael Rodgers saw his share of the vote increase by 3.4 per cent, polling 7,891; the BNP’s Alan Hewitt came fourth with 2,409; and UKIP candidate Philip Lancaster polled 1,451.