New MP promises ‘different’ politics

KINGSWOOD’S new MP has promised to show his new constituents that “politics can be different” after his by-election victory.

Labour’s Damien Egan overturned a Conservative majority of more than 11,000 to win the seat, which includes Mangotsfield and parts of Downend.

He won the poll with a majority of 2,501 over Tory candidate Sam Bromiley, defending the seat after Chris Skidmore resigned in January.

Mr Egan said his first priority would be to “get to work” quickly on issues that had come up on doorsteps during the campaign, including access to NHS dentists and doctors, crime and the cost of living.

Speaking to the Voice at the count after his election was confirmed, Mr Egan said: “The fact that there’s no NHS dentists (taking on new patients) anywhere in Bristol is huge. People are also finding it really hard to get to a doctor.”

The new MP also said people had also raised concerns about policing and feeling unsafe, and the cost of living.

He said: “The cost of living isn’t just a slogan, this is people’s lives, people telling me how they feel like they’re not living but existing. People are working really hard, they’re doing extra hours, life is very tough for people at the moment.”

The Kingswood constituency is being abolished at the next general election, which has to take place in the next 10 months.

Mr Egan will be Labour’s candidate for the new Bristol North East constituency, which includes Staple Hill and Mangotsfield, but voters in Downend and Emersons Green will all join Filton & Bradley Stoke, while areas such as Hanham will become part of North East Somerset & Hanham.

The new MP said he would not ignore constituents he might only be representing for a few months.

He said: “I think I’ve even got more responsibility for those people, making sure they’ve got a responsive MP representing and putting their voice in Parliament.”

In his victory speech after the count, Mr Egan said: “Thank you for giving me your trust, and for allowing me to serve the community that I’m from. It’s a trust that I promise to repay, to show you that politics can be different, and it can make a difference.”

Tories lose seat held since 2010

The decision of Chris Skidmore, who had held Kingswood for the Conservatives for nearly 14 years, to force a by-election placed the area in the national political spotlight and heaped more pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Skidmore, a former energy minister and champion of the UK’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions, quit over the government’s Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which would “cause future harm” through the promotion of new oil and gas production.

The Conservatives chose their group leader on South Gloucestershire Council, Sam Bromiley, to defend the seat.

His campaign focused on two main issues – opposition to the council’s Local Plan proposals to allow new homes to be built on Green Belt land between Shortwood and Warmley, and the fact that Mr Egan, who grew up in Kingswood and Staple Hill, had been the directly-elected mayor of Lewisham in London before the by-election was called.

Cllr Bromiley left Thornbury Leisure Centre without giving interviews after the result was declared in the early hours of February 16.

He later issued a statement on social media, which said: “Thank you to all those who voted Conservative in the Kingswood by-election.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks meeting residents and hearing about their concerns and ideas for our area.

“Looking forward to keeping the conversation going!”

Mr Sunak said the circumstances of the by-election and a second in Wellingborough, where the sitting MP had been unseated by a recall petition, were “particularly challenging”.

Third place for Reform UK

Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit Party which did not field a candidate in Kingswood in 2019, came third in an election the party had originally said it would not contest because of the cost to the taxpayer.

However it reversed that decision and selected as its candidate Rupert Lowe, a businessman, farmer and former city banker based in the Cotswolds.

Mr Lowe’s 2,578 votes exceeded the size of Labour’s majority and was the first time the party had achieved over 10% of a Westminster by-election vote.

He said afterwards that those who voted for him had “sent Westminster a message”.

A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council said it had applied for £189,000 from the government to cover the total cost of running the by-election.


Damien Egan (Labour): 11,176

Sam Bromiley (Conservative): 8,675

Rupert Lowe (Reform UK): 2,578

Lorraine Francis (Green Party): 1,450

Andrew Brown (Lib Dem): 861

Nicholas Wood (UKIP): 129

Turnout 37.11 per cent

Tory to Labour swing 16.4 per cent