INTERVIEW: Bury’s new Conservative candidate can’t wait to ‘get local’

Mark Westley Photography New Tory candidate. Jo Churchill. ANL-140511-234410009
Mark Westley Photography New Tory candidate. Jo Churchill. ANL-140511-234410009
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The new Conservative candidate who will represent Bury St Edmunds at next year’s General Election is Johanna Churchill.

The Lincolnshire county councillor and businesswoman was adopted by the Conservative Association in a secret ballot on Tuesday night, fighting off fellow hopefuls James Cleverly, Helen Whatley and Zehra Zaidi.

Mrs Churchill, 50, hopes to replace long-standing MP David Ruffley, who chose to stand down at next year’s election after it emerged he had received a police caution for assaulting his former partner.

Mrs Churchill said she could not wait to ‘get on the ground’ and start to understand her new constituency.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted, and over the moon to have been selected to be the Parliamentary candidate for the constituency. I am almost speechless.

“I’m a rural candidate with rural life experience. I have dealt as a businesswoman and a councillor with exactly the same problems, so I want to get on the ground and start to understand the problems in the Bury constituency.”

The married mother of four is a county councillor representing a ward in Grantham, a healthcare campaigner, school governor, and runs a construction company employing 20 people.

She plans to set up a base in Bury immediately before moving to the constituency.

Of her predecessor Mr Ruffley, Mrs Churchill said: “A line has been drawn under it and this is all about the future. I think we should move forward and look positively.”

She said her priorities would be schools and young people, healthcare, small businesses and infrastructure, and ‘joining the loop’ between them.

“We have a brilliant district hospital here, and I would like to think I can campaign for their needs and be an advocate for them,” she said.

Conservative Association Chairman Andrew Speed said: “I am delighted that Jo has been chosen from what was a very strong shortlist and know that she will make an excellent and hardworking MP for the constituency.”

Sarah Stamp, deputy chairman (political and campaigning), who will be working with Mrs Churchill on her election campaign, added: “I am thrilled with the choice.

“Jo is an extremely likeable, tenacious and determined lady with a strong sense of community who will absolutely put down roots in the constituency, work closely with all of us who live here and will be a force to be reckoned with when fighting our cause in Westminster.”