Sir David Amess’ successor insists she WILL keep meeting constituents face-to-face – but has had to increase security at her Southend surgeries one year on from the veteran MP’s murder

  • Sir David Amess, 69, was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery
  • The Southend West MP was attacked by knifeman Ali Harbi Ali in October 2021
  • Ali was earlier this year handed a whole-life prison term for the fatal knife attack 
  • Anna Firth, 56, was elected as MP for Southend West at a by-election in February
  • She said she was ‘determined to carry on’ Sir David’s legacy with meetings 

The successor of murdered MP Sir David Amess says she has had to increase security at her surgeries as a result of his stabbing – but insists she will continue to meet constituents face-to-face.

Anna Firth, 56, who was elected as the Southend West MP following the veteran politician’s killing, says she holds meetings at locations where ‘we’ve got slightly more security’.

However, speaking in an interview a year on from the veteran politician’s death, she said she was ‘determined’ to carry on his legacy by continuing to meet constituents in person.

She said: ‘I think it’s a really important aspect of an MP’s job that people can contact you if they’ve got problems. It’s something that David thought as well.

Anna Firth, 56, who was elected as the Southend West MP following the veteran politician’s killing, says she holds meetings at locations where ‘we’ve got slightly more security’

Father-of-five, Sir David (pictured), was stabbed to death while meeting constituents in October last year

‘I think in some ways obviously I would rather we didn’t have any barriers to seeing your MP but I would far rather that we do things safely, particularly as some of my staff were also involved with Sir David and I’m really, really lucky that some of his team have stayed with me.

‘It’s really important that we keep them safe.’ 

Father-of-five, Sir David, was stabbed to death while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 2021.

Jurors found Sir David’s killer, Ali Harbi Ali, guilty of murder after just 18 minutes of deliberation at the Old Bailey in April, and he was handed a whole-life prison term.

Ms Firth was elected as MP for Southend West at a by-election in February.

Jurors found Sir David’s killer, Ali Harbi Ali (pictured), guilty of murder after just 18 minutes of deliberation at the Old Bailey in April, and he was handed a whole-life prison term

She said she had been on a wreck diving holiday when she heard that an MP in the UK had been stabbed.

Ms Firth said she learned later that day that it was Sir David.

‘I genuinely think to this day no-one can really believe that such a lovely, lovely man and fantastic MP could be taken from us just going about his job, doing the most brilliant job, and in a church,’ she said.

Sir David had served Southend West since 1997, and Basildon before that since 1983, and Ms Firth said it was ‘as if he knew everybody’.

‘It was as if he was a headmaster who didn’t just have 500 pupils to know and look after,’ she said.

‘He had 70,000 and he knew every one of them.’

Ms Firth said it was an ‘enormous privilege’ to serve as his successor and ‘hard in one sense because people need to talk’.

‘They need to talk about their memories of Sir David and their reflections,’ she said.

‘But because he was such an amazing MP it means that there’s a fantastic legacy. My biggest problem is how to do as many things as Sir David did.

‘I’m convinced he must have had about six body doubles following him around the constituency.

Ali’s fatal knife attack took place while Sir David was meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church (pictured: Police at the scene) in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 2021

‘He supported so many people and so many charities and to such a high level, so it’s a challenge but it’s a wonderful challenge to have.’

John Lamb, chairman of the Southend West Conservative Association, said Sir David had wanted to meet his constituents in the community.

The 74-year-old said: ‘We used to have surgeries (at Sir David’s constituency office) but for David it wasn’t good enough.

‘Because the bus services weren’t that good he wanted to go out and meet the people so he did, he got out and about.

‘We’ve had to improve the security around how we do it but our new MP Anna is in fact still very keen to meet the people and to help them.’

City status granted to Southend in honour of murdered MP Sir David Amess ‘has given everyone a huge boost’ 

The city status granted to Southend in honour of murdered MP Sir David Amess has ‘given everyone a huge boost’, his successor said a year after his death, as she suggested Southend could bid for UK City of Culture in 2029.

Sir David was stabbed to death while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 2021.

The father of five had long campaigned for Southend to become a city and this was done after his death.

Sir David was posthumously made the city of Southend’s first freeman at a ceremony attended by the Prince of Wales in March.

Anna Firth, who was elected as MP for Southend West in February, said that Southend becoming a city had ‘given everyone a huge boost’.

‘Civic pride is important and it’s given everybody a focus because what we all want to do now is to make the city of Southend the city that he would have been proud of,’ said the 56-year-old.

‘We’re all coming together and working out ways in which we can take Southend forward.

‘Just one of the suggestions which I’ve come up with is that we go for UK City of Culture in 2029 because culture was really important to Sir David and he led the charge for Southend to be UK City of Culture in 2017 and we didn’t get it.

‘We missed out to Hull.

‘So, what better legacy than for us to fulfil his dream and make us not only a city but a City of Culture.’

She said that bids begin in ‘two or three years’ time’ but ‘to be bid-ready you want to completely up your game’.

She said there was a ‘fantastic inaugural city concert’ earlier in the year as a tribute to Sir David.

‘We’re thinking possibly of a new maritime museum and we’re looking at all aspects of the city and the culture and the theatre that we have, and working out ways in which we can make that gearshift to an actual national, international offering,’ said Ms Firth.

John Lamb, chairman of the Southend West Conservative Association, said that Sir David would be ‘over the moon’ that Southend has become a city and it has ‘brought a lot of pride’.

‘You don’t see everything that’s actually come about through city status but in fact it is building,’ said Mr Lamb, 74.

‘We’ve seen multinational businesses who want to move into the town, bring the investment.’

He said that the ‘whole town is changing and for the good reasons’.

Mr Lamb said that, after achieving city status for Southend, Sir David would have been looking forward.

‘Now he’d be working on ‘what’s the next thing that Southend needs? Let’s get that going’,’ he said.

‘He would be determined to move that forward for us.’

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