Liberal Democrats announce candidate for Kingswood by-election

THE Liberal Democrats have chosen their candidate to contest the Kingswood by-election.

Bristol city councillor Andrew Brown will represent the party in the poll on February 15, which is being held after former Conservative energy minister Chris Skidmore resigned on January 5

The MP stood down in protest at the government’s Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which he said would “cause future harm” through the promotion of new oil and gas production.

Andrew is the Lib Dem group’s deputy leader on Bristol City Council, where he represents the Hengrove and Whitchurch Park ward.

A party spokesperson said: “Andrew will look to build on the party’s local winning streak, following the Liberal Democrats’ major gains in South Gloucestershire during the 2023 local elections, which ousted the Conservatives from power. 

“The Liberal Democrat campaign will focus on holding the Conservative party to account over their continued broken promises on the NHS, failure to tackle the cost of living crisis, and complacency while water companies pump raw sewage into waterways across Gloucestershire.” 

The party says Andrew has lived in the South West for 18 years and works in financial services outside of his council role.

He been a city councillor since 2021, chairs the authority’s audit committee and sits on the oversight and scrutiny management board.

Andrew said: “Local people I’ve spoken to are fed up of being taken for granted by this out of touch Conservative government, and this by-election is proof that even Conservative MPs are tired of it. 

“The people of South Gloucestershire have been woefully let down for far too long by the Conservative party.

“Our local NHS services have been neglected by Conservative Ministers, hard working families have been left to suffer the repercussions of the cost of living crisis with little help and our local waterways are being damaged. 

“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.”

At the last general election the Lib Dems came third in the Kingswood constituency, with 6.9% of the vote.

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

Labour has already announced that Damien Egan, who grew up in Kingswood and was recently selected for the Bristol North East seat in the general election, will be its candidate for the by-election.

A former Downend & Bromley Heath parish councillor, he was elected as the Mayor of Lewisham in London in 2018 but has resigned the post to fight the by-election.

The Conservatives have picked Sam Bromiley, their group leader on South Gloucestershire Council, to defend the seat.

A former member of Mr Skidmore’s staff, he currently who works for the support organisation the Helplines Partnership.

The Greens have selected Bristol city councillor Lorraine Francis to contest the seat.

Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit Party, initially refused to stand a candidate, with party leader Richard Tice branding the election a “grotesque abuse of taxpayers’ cash”.

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