Battle for Kingswood

SIX candidates will contest the Kingswood by-election called after Chris Skidmore resigned as MP.

Whoever wins the seat, held by Mr Skidmore for the Tories since 2010, will be MP for a matter of months. At the general election later this year, the Kingswood constituency will be abolished as new boundaries are brought in.

The six contenders are: Sam Bromiley (Conservative); Andrew Brown (Liberal Democrat); Damien Egan (Labour); Lorraine Francis (Green Party); Rupert Lowe (Reform UK); and Nicholas Wood (UKIP).

Sam Bromiley, who is defending a Tory majority of 11,000, is a councillor for Parkwall & Warmley and the leader of his party’s group on South Gloucestershire Council to defend the seat.

He works for the support organisation the Helplines Partnership

He said: “I am committed to serving our local area, by growing our local economy, protecting our green spaces, and giving people the tools and the choice to work hard and achieve.

Conservative Sam Bromiley

“This area has always been my home and I want to deliver for my community by bringing more investment, supporting our small businesses, and protecting our green spaces.”

Labour’s Damien Egan was selected last year to stand at the general election for the new Bristol North East seat, which will replace part of the Kingswood constituency – as its by-election candidate.

Damien, 40, grew up in the area, attending Our Lady of Lourdes primary school and Hanham High School. He was elected to Lewisham Council in 2010, becoming directly-elected mayor of the London borough in 2018, a post he has now resigned.

Damien said: “I’m looking forward to being able to go around the areas I grew up in, and give residents a hard-working representative who’s on their side.

Labour's  Damien Egan

“Speaking to residents in Kingswood today, it’s clear that, just like the former MP, people are fed up of this government, and ready for change.”

Mr Skidmore, who led the Net Zero review for the Government, resigned over its continuing support for new oil and gas licences and said he would not support any political party at elections.

Lorraine Francis, the Green Party’s choice, is a social worker jn Kingswood. She represents Eastville on Bristol City Council and has been chosen to fight Bristol North East at the general election.

Lorraine Francis, Green Party

The Greens said: The party said: “Residents of Kingswood have the opportunity to elect an MP who will fight to save our green spaces, for today and for future generations. As Kingswood’s former MP argued in his resignation letter, we are facing a climate emergency and the time to act is now.”

Andrew Brown, for the Lib Dems, works in financial services and is a Bristol city councillor.

He said: “Our local NHS services have been neglected by Conservative ministers, hardworking families have been left to suffer the repercussions of the cost of living crisis with little help and our local waterways are being damaged.

Lib Dem Andrew Brown

“I am delighted that voters in Kingswood are finally being given the opportunity to send a message to Rishi Sunak and choose an MP that deeply cares about this community.”

Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit Party, initially branded the by-election a a “grotesque abuse of taxpayers’ cash”.

Its candidate is the party’s business spokesman and former Southampton FC chairman. Rupert Lowe has promised that if elected, his “entire net MP salary will be donated to local Kingswood charities.”

The UKIP candidate Dr Nicholas Wood, 48, is principal lecturer of chemistry and pharmacology at Kingston University in Surrey. He said in his campaign material that he wanted to become an MP so UKIP could “retake control:” of the UK by leaving the EU.

Facts and figures

The Kingswood constituency was created in 1974 and has been held by the Conservatives since 2010, when Chris Skidmore won the seat from Labour’s Roger Berry.

Mr Skidmore’s majority at the last general election was 11,220 over Labour’s Nicola Bowden-Jones.

The Tories received 56% of votes cast in 2019, with Labour getting 33%. The Lib Dems were a distant third, with 6.9%, and the Greens fourth with 2.4%. The only other candidate, standing under an animal welfare banner, received 1% of the votes.

The Kingswood constituency will be abolished at the general election, after a boundary review. Mr Skidmore had already said he would retire from Parliament at the election.

The South Gloucestershire electoral wards of New Cheltenham, Kingswood and Woodstock will become part of the new Bristol North East seat, while other wards in the district will become part of another new seat, North East Somerset & Hanham. Emersons Green will go into Filton & Bradley Stoke.

Two of the candidates for Kingswood, Damien Egan, Labour, and Lorraine Francis, Green, have been selected to contest Bristol North East at the general election.

Labour is in the process of selecting its candidate to fight former Cabinet Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg in North East Somerset & Hanham. The contenders so far are James Coldwell, Becky Montacute and the West of England Metro Mayor and former MP Dan Norris. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

Polling in the by-election on February 15 is from 7am-10pm. Those voting in person must bring a form of photo ID.