A12, A120 and rail line are top priorities for Will Quince
- Credit: JAKE FOXFORD
Conservative Will Quince emphatically won the Colchester seat for the third time in five years with an improved majority and more than half the votes cast.
Picking up 26,917 votes on Thursday night, Mr Quince had a vote share of 50.4% and a majority of 9,423 over Labour's second-placed Tina McKay, who received 17,494 votes.
Liberal Democrat Martin Goss came thirds with 7,432 votes, and in fourth was Martin Goss, candidate and first Green councillor for Colchester Borough Council in May 2019, with 1,530 votes.
Turnout on the night was 64.9%, similar to the previous two elections, despite the rain and cold weather.
Conservative agents were quick across the count floor from the announcement of the exit poll which put the Tories in a commanding majority, with activists pressed against desks while votes were counted and verified.
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Mr Quince said: "It's just incredible. I really hoped I'd get re-elected and I love serving the people of Colchester, but to get more than half of the vote is so humbling.
"The first thing we're going to do is pass a Queen's speech and start passing Brexit legislation, but then it's onto the priorities like police funding, education funding and NHS funding, as well as championing issues with the A12 and A120 and our rail line."
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Mr Quince increased his majority by around 4,000 votes and Darius Laws, ex-Conservative councillor for Castle ward in the town, said the increased majority could prove theories of tactical voting between opposition parties.
Colchester had been a Lib Dem stronghold, with Sir Bob Russell keeping a healthy majority between 1997 and 2015 before the electorate punished the party for their part in the coalition government.
The collapse of their vote saw them slip to second place in 2015, and further still when they were overtaken by Labour in 2017.
Colchester is historically the most changeable constituency in Essex, with the rest of the county seen as Conservative heartlands.
The only non-Tory seat other than Colchester in recent years was Clacton under UKIP's Douglas Carswell, before he left the party to stand as an independent and was unseated by Giles Watling.
Mrs McKay was upbeat despite Labour's poor national showing, saying: "We are still the same party and still have the same policies to help everyone, not just a select few powerful people.
"I'm a local person who loves Colchester and I'm not going to stop working to improve the town I love.
"We focussed on a campaign with a positive message and people really responded well to it."
Having joined the party the day after the 2015 general election, Mrs McKay said her membership was not hinging on Jeremy Corbyn remaining leader in the wake of his party's defeat nationally.
"I would of course be disappointed if Jeremy quit as leader because his message has inspired so many people, but I'm not going to cut up my membership card if it happens," she added.
"This is still a party I believe in with polices that can help everyone."
Mr Goss, who had hoped to see his party reclaim second place in the election, reflected on returning to day-to-day life after intense campaigning, saying: "I think we knocked on 30,000 doors, more than any other party in Colchester, but I'm back at work tomorrow and I've got to recycle all the leaflets in the back of my car.
"I think now is the time to focus on Christmas and time with the family before we make any plans for another election."
Mr Goacher was also looking ahead, talking up the chances for the Greens in the 2020 local elections.
"I think there is going to be a backlash to this result, and where we are growing strongest is locally.
"When we were on the doorstep, the issues people were raising with us were the traffic problems in the town.
"This kind of result would not happen under a Proportional Representation (PR) system. The two major parties are the ones who benefit from First Past The Post (FPTP) and that needs to change for the people to be truly represented."