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Dudley General Election results: Ian Austin wins Dudley North by just 22 votes

By Harry Leather | Dudley | News | Published:

Ian Austin has finally been confirmed as Dudley North's MP after a dramatic night of re-counts.

After a tense night which saw the votes counted three times over nine hours, the Labour MP eventually re-claimed his seat by just 22 votes at 7.15am.

Mr Austin and Conservative candidate Les Jones were forced to sit through two re-counts after the pair were separated by less than two-dozen votes.

Elsewhere, Conservatives James Morris and Mike Wood retained Halesowen & Rowley Regis and Dudley South respectively, as did fellow Tory Margot James in Stourbridge.

Scroll through for the full results and reaction from each Dudley constituency.

Dudley North result - Labour hold

  • Ian Austin, Labour - 18,090
  • Les Jones, Conservative - 18,068
  • Bill Etheridge, UKIP 2,144
  • Ben France, Lib Dem - 368
  • Andrew Nixon, Green - 240
  • Turnout - 61%

There were incredible scenes at the Dudley North count in the early hours – with reports that Labour and the Conservatives were being split by just THREE votes.

A re-count was ordered at around 5am after the result was said to have been split between ‘a couple of dozen’ votes for Labour’s Ian Austin and the Conservative Les Jones.

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This then changed again with unofficial sources saying the gap had then come down to just three votes after the first recount.

A second re-count was ordered around 6.30am.

Dudley-born Mr Austin’s 4,000-plus majority from 2015 vanished as the Tories attempted to snatch one of their key target seats in what was a nightmare election night for the party.

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Both Mr Austin and Mr Jones looked on attentively as counters in Crystal Leisure Centre were forced to recount the votes twice.

Mr Austin looked nervous as counting continued, preferring to sit away from the tables. He said there wasn’t much to say about the re-count and he was just going to wait to see what happened.

However, not being able to sit still, he later went and kept a close eye on the counters, joining Mr Jones who walked along the tables peering over the shoulders of the counters.

Around 80 people were waiting for the result with agents and candidates for other constituencies also hanging on for the outcome of the recount.

In a repeat of 2015, the top three candidates were Mr Austin, Mr Jones and Bill Etheridge of UKIP. However, that's where the similarities ended.

Despite increasing his vote by 2,800, Mr Austin won by just 22 votes with most of the 2015 UKIP vote apparently going to Mr Jones, who upped his share by 6,400.

In line with the rest of the UK, Mr Etheridge's vote collapsed to just 25 per cent of what the UKIP councillor polled in 2015.

But Mr Etheridge was full of praise for his fellow party candidates in the Black Country.

“It’s been a real pavement pounding local campaign. I’m proud of what we have done but we have been let down by the national campaign and that is extremely disappointing,” the Ukip candidate said.

The tension was exacerbated by the fact that for the first time, Dudley held all four of the constituency counts at one venue.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Mr Jones. “It’s been an unusual election. It’s been a lot more positive on the doorstep than I’ve known before and I’ve fought in a fair few.

“Brexit was one of the biggest issues for people with many worried about the fallout. I think people have been more involved in this election than with recent ones. It’s also been noticeable that less people said they were voting Ukip”

Mr Austin said: “It’s been an interesting election. I’ve enjoyed it – it’s been hard work but good fun. Getting out and about to talk to people is always the highlight.”

The turnout in Dudley North was just under 61 per cent, lower than both 2015 and 2010 which had turnouts of 62.6 and 63.5 per cent respectively.

Alos in the race were the Lib Dems' Ben France, who is the party’s campaign chairman in Dudley, and NHS worker and Green Party candidate Andrew Nixon.

This is the second time the Dudley North count has dragged on into the following morning after ballot boxes were misplaced and the count was delayed by several hours. Ian Austin squeezed through that year.

Dudley South result - Conservative hold

  • Mike Wood, Conservative - 21,588
  • Natasha Millward, Labour - 13,858
  • Mitchell Bolton, UKIP - 1,791
  • Jonathan Bramall, Lib Dem - 625
  • Jenny Maxwell, Green - 382
  • Turnout - 62%

Ecstatic about his re-election, MP Mike Wood praised not only his constituency but also the doctors and nurses at Dudley's Russell's Hall Hospital for saving his life after his battle with sepsis.

In an emotional speech, he said: "This year has not been what I expected. It is a tremendous honour to serve Dudley South and I am so grateful for those who have put their trust in me.

Mike Wood celebrates

"I would also like to say a special thank you to those doctors and nurses and all the staff at Russell's Hall who saved my life in January. They are the ones who allowed me to stand here today, let alone stand an election.

He added: "I am delighted with the result and I am so pleased that so many wanted to vote for me to continue the work that I have been doing these past few years. The future is bright."

Labour candidate Natasha Millwood gracefully accepted her defeat.

She said: "We ran a very good campaign and we were not expecting an election to happen. I had increased our vote share and that is something I am very proud of.

"I will now continue to campaign locally as this was based on a manifesto that I was very proud to stand on. It resonated with people on their door steps."

Halesowen & Rowley Regis result - Conservative hold

  • James Morris, Conservative - 23,012
  • Ian Cooper, Labour - 17,759
  • Stuart Henley, UKIP - 2,126
  • Jamie Scott, Liberal Democrat - 859
  • James Robertson, Green Party - 440
  • Tim Weller, Independent - 183
  • Turnout - 64.5%

James Morris held on to his seat with a majority of 5,253.

James Morris celebrates retaining his Halesowen and Rowley Regis seat

He said: "I think our campaign was very positive and we got a good reception for what we want for the country as well as this area.

"Our main focus in Halesowen and Rowley over the past seven years has been to help young people get into education, training and employment.

"We've made big progress in that area and we are determined to continue to do what we can to improve the skills for young people and to continue to grow the local economy.

"I will continue to stand up for the people of Halesowen."

In his defeat Ian Cooper thanked his family and team and spoke of enforcing future change in the area.

He said: "We fought a tough election for the many not the few. These things that we have built together this election should not be left to crumble. I feel that a strong message has been put out across the country not just the Halesowen area.

"We've seen many come in our constituency asking for change and that is what we will continue to fight for."

Stourbridge - Conservative hold

  • Margot James, Conservative - 25,706
  • Pete Lowe, Labour - 18,052
  • Glen Wilson, UKIP - 1,801
  • Chris Bramall Lib Dem - 1,083
  • Andi Mohr, Green - 493
  • Turnout: 67.22%

Margot James held the seat for the Conservatives, saying she was 'deeply honoured' to represent the area for a third time.

Margot James in the early hours of this morning

She said: "I'm very proud of retaining my Stourbridge seat and of the efforts that have been made by the councillors in Stourbridge and the volunteers - I'm indebted to them.

"We've had some great results nationally and locally.

"I'm also delighted that we've gained Walsall North - I've known Eddie Hughes for 12 years and he's a great guy."

Harry Leather

By Harry Leather
Digital Editor - @hleather_star

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