VIDEO - Stephen Phillips retains seat as Conservatives win in Sleaford and North Hykeham

Conservatives have held Sleaford and North Hykeham with an increased majority.

Stephen Phillips was returned as MP for a second term as Liberal Democrats suffered a collapse tonight.

The candidates on stage after the result for Sleaford and North Hykeham. EMN-150805-064429001

The candidates on stage after the result for Sleaford and North Hykeham. EMN-150805-064429001

Turnout was 67.23 per cent (62,169 votes cast).

The Conservative MP increased his majority by 4,000 votes to 24,000 (34,805 votes) from his nearest rival Jason Pandya-Wood for Labour (10,690 votes) who narrowly beat UKIP’s Steve Hopkins (9,716 votes). Matthew Holden for the Liberal Democrats (3,500 votes) saw his party drop to fourth from second place five years ago while Lincolnshire Independent Marianne Overton polled 3,233 votes.

Mr Phillips was surprised at the size of his increased majority but after a brief rest was ready to continue his work as an MP. He said it was an endorsement of what he had stood for and the work his party had done. He would not rule out some form of ministerial post if offered.

Mr Phillips said: “We fought a proper campaign on the ground. We have knocked on over 15,000 doors over the last five weeks. We fought this campaign properly and have not taken anything for granted.

Labour's Jason Pandya-Wood. EMN-150805-064822001

Labour's Jason Pandya-Wood. EMN-150805-064822001

“Constituents have a right to know what you stand for and I have talked to as many of them as possible.”

He said the response on the doorstep had been pretty positive and it had been a fairly fought campaign on all sides and he congratulated all his opponents.

Mr Phillips said: “There have been things that the coalition government have done that have concerned people and have concerned me. But people remember what a state our economy was in five years ago and think that the coalition did a pretty good job given the hand it was dealt in 2010.”

Despite accusations of his having a second job as a barrister, he said people recognised him as a full time MP in the Commons and holding surgeries every week, as well as living within the constituency.

Despondent - Liberal Democrat Matthew Holden. EMN-150805-064834001

Despondent - Liberal Democrat Matthew Holden. EMN-150805-064834001

He said: “I am going to do the job I have been doing for the last five years - to fight for this bit of Lincolnshire and try and secure the best possible settlement from central government while maintaining the things we all stand for. Part of fighting for Lincolnshire is fighting for rural England and there is a group of us in Parliament who try and have a strong voice on behalf of all of the rural constituencies.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Matthew Holden admitted it had not been a good night for his party but said it had been a busy day, up at 7am with his toddler and his wife who had only given birth to a second son on Friday.

He said: “We came second here in 2010 when we were in a really strong position with many members in the town councils and district council, but going into coalition we lost a lot of support for supporting Tory policies. We received an anti-Tory vote.

“We are still really pleased with our campaign. We have recruited many new members, getting out our literature and taking part in every debate.”

Marianne Overton - Lincolnshire Independents. EMN-150805-072534001

Marianne Overton - Lincolnshire Independents. EMN-150805-072534001

He said the campaign had been demanding personally but he had enjoyed engaging with the electorate. When asked if he would do it again, he said: “Maybe.”

Labour’s Jason Pandy-Wood said they have maintained a steady presence each week in the constituency since launching the campaign in January.

He said: “I am pleased to see people have really come out and voted in this constituency and taken advantage of the democratic process. I have genuinely loved it and met so many interesting people, met some in dispair and disadvantage but others have been given hope.”

He said the response was genuinely humbling. He said people had valued the face to face contact on the doorstep to talk politics. He added: “I would encourage whoever is successful to take the doorstep engagement approach beyond this campaign.”

Mr Pandya-Wood added: “We have developed a strong presence and recruited new members to the party, building up a good network.”

Lincolnshire Independents candidate Marianne Overton said she was up at 2am making final preparations.

Steven Hopkins - UKIP EMN-150805-072552001

Steven Hopkins - UKIP EMN-150805-072552001

She said it had been tough, with an unknown number of residents who had not received their campaign leaflet deliveries. She said: “In Heckington today I asked 20 people and none of them had had a leaflet, so it has been difficult.

“It has been a great opportunity to talk to a vast number of people and get some clear ideas on the issues that are important to people. These include the massive housing development without adequate infrastructure and the knock on effects that go with that for health and lack of funding for Lincolnshire. Lack of access to medical facilities and GPs, concern about traffic and roads.”

She said many had been supportive but others had been concerned about keeping the SNP out, despite it having no bearing on this constituency.

She said standing had been a team effort with a lot more Lincolnshire Independents candidates standing than ever before at district council level. She said: “It is important to have that voice carried through to a national level.

She said: “We have a cracking team of candidates throughout the district who have worked really hard to engage with and support residents.”

UKIP candidate Steven Hopkins said: “We always knew the Conservatives would be in the lead but I hoped to make a significant dent in their majority to be taken more seriously next time.”

He said he would happily have all the candidates home for dinner, have a discussion and part as friends. He said there had been no nastiness at the hustings events.

Mr Hopkins said: “The reaction on doorsteps has been interesting. There were a lot of people, not UKIP supporters, who were prepared to think and chat about issues.

“What I found most depressing was the people who would always vote for the same party in blind adherence. The lack of thought is depressing.”

He believed if a hung parliament they would be back at the polls in October when his party would be in a much stronger position.

Mr Hopkins said they would be relying on their own campaigners in future rather than UKIP head office. He said: “They have had to concentrate on their target seats as a smaller party, but we have felt marginalised.”