THE FRIDAY morning rush hour was underway before Ilkley heard who its next MP would be.

Conservative candidate Kris Hopkins was returned to Parliament with a 3,053 majority in one of the last results to be announced.

With 21,766 votes he beat Labour hopeful John Grogan into second place with 18,713 votes, in a contest that nobody present was able to forecast with confidence.

Paul Latham gained 5,662 votes for UKIP and Ros Brown gained 1,661 for the Green Party, leaving the Liberal Democrats to come last with candidate Gareth Epps’s 1,321 votes.

The five candidates had waited nervously for several hours, their party colleagues forced to watch on their tablets and smartphones as results for hundreds of other constituencies streamed in.

But eventually at 8.10am returning officer Edmund Anderson, the High Sheriff of West Yorkshire, took to the balcony at Keighley Leisure Centre to announce the winner.

Keeping his victory speech short due to the time people had been waiting for the result, Kris Hopkins said he was delighted to retain his Keighley seat for the Conservatives.

He said: “It's my hometown and it's a great privilege to be re-elected.

“I want to put Keighley on the map and grow the economy around Keighley and Airedale, we made progress with a new school building and also new A&E at Airedale Hospital.”

Speaking just after the result was announced he said; “It’s either late or early and let's go back and work to continue what we’ve got to do.

“We have gained 1,000 new jobs in Keighley and Ilkley in five years, which is a good start.

“We have made huge progress and we honestly haven’t stopped since 2010.

“The north is a part of the country which has been struggling and we want to get wages back in people’s pockets.”

Mr Hopkins paid tribute to his rivals and the way in which their campaigns had been carried out, which he described as “a good clean fight”.

Clearly emotional after hearing of his win, Mr Hopkins hugged supporters after leaving the balcony at Keighley Leisure Centre.

“I feel exhausted and as I’m pubs minister I might go for a pint or two,” he added.

Looking forward to local issues, he said the threat to Keighley’s police station needed to be addressed.

“I will need to have a chat with our Labour Police and Crime Commissioner about that,” he said.

A couple of hours earlier, as the national results rolled in and the BBC predicted the chances of a Conservative majority, Mr Hopkins had applauded David Cameron for taking his party to such a position.

Mr Hopkins added: "We've talked about the economy. It's the thing that takes us from where we were five years ago to where we are now. It's a really powerful message."

As he left the Leisure Centre soon after the results were announced, Labour candidate John Grogan said he was “obviously very disappointed” at the result.

He said: “We couldn’t really buck the national swing. I think we lost a lot of votes because of fear of the SNP.

“The Labour Party has a lot of thinking to do nationally. Locally we fought a vigorous and fair campaign and I will always have pride, passion and belief in Keighley.”

Ros Brown, candidate for the Green Party, had known she was not going to win the election in Keighley, but was nevertheless delighted with the events of voting day.

She said: “Every single Green vote counts. We’re so proud that we’re here giving people a chance to vote Green.

“The reason I stood was because I couldn’t vote Green myself last time. It’s been 23 years since anyone could vote Green in Keighley.”

Ros Brown said that during the hustings events in the Keighley constituency it was clear the electorate had respect for the Green Party’s politics.

She was pleased with both the high turnout of voters across Keighley, and the relationship between all the candidates during the election campaign.

She said: “It's been really respectful amongst the five of us. We’ve had a nice rapport between us. That does politics a world of good.”

Gareth Epps, the Liberal Democrat candidate, also praised the “very positive” campaign by all the candidates and said the quintet had got on together well.

He said: “We’ve been busy campaigning all day and throughout the week. I’ve walked 20 miles a day in the last three days.”

Despite his marathon efforts, Mr Epps realised early on during Thursday night’s count that his party was not doing well.

He said: “It’s clearly going to be difficult night for the party and some rebuilding needs to be done.

“I’m conscious that historically this is a seat that’s been tightly fought between Labour and Conservatives.

“My main desire was always to develop and build a local Liberal Democrat base so we could come out stronger as a local party.

“We’ve been recruiting new members, we’ve invigorated people who have sat with Liberal Democrat membership cards but nothing else. That in itself has been very helpful.”

“I was always very clear – our objectives were going to be about starting to build a Liberal Democrat base in a seat we haven’t challenged for a while and we can challenge more strongly in the future.

Mr Epps echoed his comments after the results were announced, adding: “I think the result reflects a national situation where there is clearly a sentiment based on fear of the combination of Ed Miliband and Nicholas Sturgeon.

“To rebuild and regroup will be the nature of the game for us for the next few weeks and months.”

Mr Epps said that liberalism would not die in the Keighley area, and said he looked forward to working Greg Mulholland, who had retained the Otley seat for the Liberal Democrats.

During the general election count John Kirby, the Independence Party’s candidate for Keighley East in the Bradford Council elections, was among those who highlighted the high turnout amongst Keighley people

He said: “It’s been absolutely superb. The people checking votes at the polling stations have said they had never seen anything like it.

“It’s the highest it’s been for years. The checkers were surprised how many people in their 30s, and first-time voters, turned out. People realised they had such an important election.”

Rebecca Poulsen, the Conservative district council candidate for the Worth Valley ward, said people had been very motivated to vote, with more than usual going along to polling stations early in the morning.

She said: “In Marsh, one of the smallest polling stations in the ward, they had a bigger turnout by 11am than they normally have in the whole day.”

Two of Labour’s sitting councillors in Keighley Central ward, Abid Hussain and Khadim Hussain, closely watched the general election votes being counted for their ward.

Before the result was announced they had been talking up John Grogan’s chances of taking the Parliamentary seat.

Cllr Abid Hussain had said Keighley Central was crucial in Grogan’s battle against Kris Hopkins, and predicted a “very close” outcome.