Conservative candidate Mims Davies has hit back at her Liberal Democrat election rival saying “I haven’t broken any promises”.
Davies is seeking re-election to the seat she won from Mike Thornton in 2015.
At the same time the Lib Dem is looking to build on his recent County election win (in Bishopstoke) to revive his parliamentary career.
A key part of Davies’s 2015 campaign was an announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would sign off millions of pounds worth of funding for vital road infrastructure projects throughout the south within a 100 days of the return of a majority Conservative government.
Projects included the stalled Botley By-pass, improvements to junction 6 (Hedge End) on the M27 and a long awaited relief road for Eastleigh at Chickenhall Lane.
At the 2015 declaration a freshly unseated Thornton wasted no time in acknowledging the role the promised investment had played in his defeat by serving notice on Davies that she would be judged by her ability to deliver the multi-million pound Chickenhall Lane project.
Both the Botley by-pass and the junction improvements are currently on track but Chickenhall lane has made little progress since George Osbourne left the Treasury, the cabinet and subsequently the government as an unexpected and unlikely casualty of the referendum. It seems that his commitment to a Chickenhall Lane link road has disappeared with him.
For his part, Thornton is using to current campaign to remind the electorate of what he describes as a “broken promise”. Even Thornton’s County Council campaign leaflets featured the missing Chickenhall Lane link.
While May’s local elections were bad news for Lib Dems across the country, in Eastleigh the Lib Dem made gains. The possibility is they can buck the national trend in the General Election as well.
For this reason perhaps, and despite sitting on a comfortable 9,000 seat majority, Davies says she is not taking anything for granted even though she is being widely tipped by bookies and pollsters to win here again.
She has been campaigning at the kind of tempo not normally associated with an incumbent in a ‘safe’ seat and has been supported by visiting tory big beasts including Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan- Smith. It was while canvassing with IDS in a rainy Hedge End that Davies defended her record over Chickenhall Lane.
“I don’t believe I have broken any promises” she told Eastleigh news
“This project (Chickenhall Lane link Road) is not a back-of-the-fag-packet project where you can just magically bring it together. I’ve been working really hard for the last 18 months on this and alongside no local plan, it is going nowhere and that is not my fault.
“It’s no good playing the blame game, we need to get back to Westminster and fight for that money to come back to Eastleigh”
Davies has previously supported residents in North Bishopstoke residents objecting to local plan options B and C – which would see housing built North of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak- this has led to accusations that she favours options in West End and Allington Lane instead.
Eastleigh News asked if she had a preference but Davies insisted it was the council’s responsibility to come up with local plan for potential housing sites adding:
‘This failed local plan has taken over five years because the leader and his team can’t come up with one”
“I don’t want to build anywhere. The plan is down to the council, getting the work done in terms of the numbers and realistic places to build following government policy which is ‘brownfield first.”
Summing up her experience as Eastleigh’s MP Davies said:
“I’ve had a fantastic two years as a member of parliament I was the first woman MP for Eastleigh and the 380th woman to be elected to parliament. It’s been amazing to be part of the Women and Equality select committee also working with local community groups and charities. I feel like I’ve only just got my feet under the table and I’d really like the chance to get back to it.”
Speaking to Eastleigh News Iain Duncan-Smith described Mims Davies as being like “a shot of sunshine”.
“Mims is incredibly well-respected in the house of commons everybody loves seeing her. She speaks and campaigns heavily on issues that represent her constituency better than anyone I can imagine.
“I can’t think of Eastleigh without Mims, it wouldn’t make any sense to me at all so I have one simple message to the people of Eastleigh.
“If you really want someone who will be noticed here and in the House of commons and does the job better than anyone else then you’ve got to vote for Mims.
After all, who else is there?”
There are in fact, four other candidates:
Mike Thornton – Liberal Democrat
Jill Payne – Labour
Malcolm Jones – Ukip
Ron Meldrum – Green Party