A SENIOR Tory said the battle for the next General Election starts in Ellesmere Port.
Francis Maude, former Conservative Party chairman, rallied the troops as he met the borough’s Parliamentary candidate Stuart Penketh.
His visit also fell on the eve of a by-election in Westminster ward, which was won by Labour.
Mr Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “Ellesmere Port & Neston is a key seat for us, and a marginal seat too.
“Back in the 1980s our party consistently held Ellesmere Port until we lost it in 1992 (to Labour’s Andrew Miller) and there’s no reason why we can’t hold it again. The fight for the next election starts here.
“I’m delighted to be here supporting Mr Penketh. He has an understanding of the area and is working extremely hard.
“The Conservative Party today is in good shape and resonating with the public.
“Prime Minister Gordon Brown now looks like the past, while David Cameron looks like the future. Our position in the polls is as good as it’s been for the best part of 20 years.”
Mr Maude highlighted Tory policies to help people in poorer areas like Westminster get back to work, giving them to support they need, as well as helping those on Incapacity Benefit, who he said the present system has “almost given up on”, to find jobs.
The Tories have both their campaign headquarters, in Station Road, and their clubhouse, in Westminster Road, located in Westminster ward.
Mr Penketh said: “It has been fantastic to have Mr Maude come here. There are no no-go areas in this town or the UK for Conservatives.
“Westminster ward has been Labour held since the formation of the borough council in the 1970s and we have been fighting to get it in the by-election.
“People are warming to us and, having come up from just four Conservative seats on the council to 17 now means we could get a “no overall control” result before the end of the council next year.”