KIT Malthouse says “improving education standards” across North West Hampshire will remain one of his “three key missions”, after he retained the constituency with a record number of votes in last week’s general election.

The Conservative politician made the pledge after being reelected as the area’s MP last Friday with 36,471 votes – the highest winning total in the constituency’s 34 year history.

Alongside education, Mr Malthouse also pledged to support small businesses and encourage the use of neighbourhood planning to control housing developments, during his second term as an MP.

Speaking to the Advertiser following his re-election, he said: “Education for me is one of the few social policies that works and there is enormous potential for progress.

“I want to see every child in North West Hampshire going to a brilliant school.

“I will be fighting for resources and funding – that will be mission number one.”

Despite collecting 4,000 more votes than he did in the 2015 election, Mr Malthouse still saw around 1,000 votes knocked off his majority by Labour candidate, Andy Fitchet.

The Camelot Close resident had a record breaking night, collecting Labour’s biggest total in North West Hampshire, with 13,792 votes.

As a result, Mr Malthouse saw his sizeable majority of 23,943, from 2015, drop to 22,679.

Asked for the secret behind his success, Mr Fitchet said: “We ran a really positive campaign, both locally and nationally that really resonated with the people.

“We ran the campaign on a shoe string budget as well, having just come off the local elections.

“We just had a lot of activists out there getting out to people and offering an alternative to what we have had for the last seven years.”

Despite this, the Conservative remained delighted with the result and a new record high vote share of 62.1 per cent.

Mr Malthouse added: “I’m always surprised at these things but I like to think that it was down to positive local campaigning and a very vigorous campaign, including talking about issues to many local people on their doorstep.”

On a good night for both Conservative and Labour, it was Ukip’s Roger Clark who came out the biggest loser.

The anti-EU candidate, who did not attend the count for “personal reasons”, narrowly avoided finishing last behind the Green Party’s Dan Hill.

Mr Clark received just 1,467 votes compared to Mr Hill’s 1,334.

Mr Clark’s result is a major slip from 2015, when Ukip’s Sue Perkins finished second behind the Conservatives with more than 8,000 votes.

The Advertiser contacted a local Ukip representative for a comment, but did not receive a response.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Alex Payton made a minor gain for his party, who finished third behind the Conservatives and Labour.

The Lib Dems recorded a total of 5,708 votes, compared to the 5,151 they received in 2015.

Mr Payton said: “The main thing that we take away is that we have made improvements for the future.

“Mathematically we improved by more than 10 per cent, but more importantly we got more members and more volunteers join us and we can build.”

The turnout of 72.3 per cent was the highest in the constituency since the 1997 General Election, when turnout was 74.2 per cent.

Labour reaction

Andover Advertiser:

LABOUR candidate Andy Fitchet has heaped praise on his “local activists” after the party recorded its highest ever vote total in the constituency of North West Hampshire.

The party finished second behind the Conservatives in last Thursday’s poll, after collecting 13,792 votes in last week’s general election - the highest Labour total in the seat’s 34 year history.

Mr Fitchet’s total beats the previous record of 12,900, set by Michael Mumford in 1997.

Despite a strong campaign, Mr Fitchet admitted he was “amazed” by the result.
He also added it was “humbling” that more than 13,000 people had voted for him across North West Hampshire.

Lib Dem reaction

Andover Advertiser:

ALEX Payton claims he is “pleased” with the result of last week’s general election despite seeing just a modest rise in the Liberal Democrat vote in North West Hampshire.

The Thatcham-based barrister received 5,708 votes across the constituency, just 600 more than he did on a disappointing night in 2015.

However Mr Payton remained positive about the result and said that the party had recruited a number of new members and volunteers during the campaign.

He said: “The main thing that we take away is that we have made improvements for the future.

“Mathematically we improved by more than 10 per cent, but more importantly we got more members and more volunteers join us and we can build for the future.”

The local party invested both time and money into the most recent election, including purchasing advertising and setting up a campaign head-quarters in Andover High Street.

Mr Payton believes the strategy paid off and claims he would use similar tactics in the event of another quick general election.

He added: “I really valued it (the shop).

“We had a lot of people come and and it was really good for engaging with members of the public.

“It’s something I would do again.”

Green Party reaction

Andover Advertiser:

GREEN candidate Dan Hill has pointed the finger at “extraordinary circumstances” in national politics after his vote was slashed by almost half in last week’s general election.

Mr Hill says a focus on the battle between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn contributed to him receiving just 1,334 votes across North Hampshire - 1207 less than he did at the previous general election in 2015.

Assessing the result, he said: “The circumstances of this election were quite extraordinary.

“Voters were torn between the urgent callings of fighting Brexit, backing Corbyn in his first outing, and core Green issues which are never going away.

“They wanted to put their vote where they thought it most effective. 

“However, our vote held up better in North West Hampshire than most other constituencies.”

Despite the result, Mr Hill says the Green Party remain committed to contesting North West Hampshire.

The environmentalist also suggested the party was preparing for the possibility of another election fight in the near future, should one be called in the face of the uncertainty of a hung Parliament.

Mr Hill added: “Preparations are underway for another election should a weak and wobbly Tory government crumble.”