Marisa Heath has been selected as the Conservative candidate for the new constituency of Dorking and Horley. Comprising 63.4 per cent of Mole Valley, 22 per cent of Surrey East, 3.7 per cent of Reigate, and 2.1 per cent of Guildford, Electoral Calculus suggests it has a notional majority of 12,204 from the last election.
Heath is currently a councillor for the Englefield Green division on Surrey County Council, and the Cabinet Member for Environment, Countryside, and Flooding. She has served as a councillor since 2006. Since 2010, she has also run Marisa Health Consultancy Limited, advising across businesses, NGOs, and government, and previously served as a Defence Advisor in Parliament to Gerald Howarth.
She was part of an all female final three, and a final long-list of seven in which all but one members were female, and which included multiple ConHome contributors. Joining her in than final three were Lisa Townsend – Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner since 2021, previous candidate in Norwich South, and a ConHome columnist – and Lauren Atkins, a borough councillor in Waverly since May with substantial business experience.
According to a local source, Atkins had topped the selection for the short-list, and was the “frontunner” on the night. However, following a “dramatic” selection evening, Heath triumphed over Townsend in the final two by a margin of seven votes, and after two recounts. One factor in her favour was reportedly her mastery of local “facts and figures”, and becomes the latest local councillor selected.
Meanwhile, Ashley Fox has been selected for the new constituency of Bridgwater. Comprising 61.4 per cent of Bridgwater and West Somerset and 22.3 per cent of Wells, the new constituency, according to Electoral Calculus, has an implied majority of 19, 033 over Labour. Fox was previously an MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, and Conservative leader in the European Parliament.
Opposing Fox in the final two were Helen Harrison, a councillor in North Northamptonshire who fought Bolsover in 2017, and Neil Shastri-Hurst, a former army soldier and medic, NHS worker, and current barrister, who fought the North Shropshire by-election in 2021. According to a local source, Fox won on the first ballot, with a “decent” showing for Shastri-Hunt in second.
Fox, a qualified solicitor, told the Bridgwater Mercury: “My family comes from Somerset, and I am delighted to have been chosen by the membership of Bridgwater. Bridgwater is a great place for businesses large and small to invest. I want to make sure that the Government is always on their side.” A local source suggests he has “hit the ground running” with frequent campaigning outings.
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