RICHMONDSHIRE Council leader John Blackie has thrown his name into the race to stand as a parliamentary candidate for Richmond MP William Hague's seat when he stands down in May.

The leader of Richmondshire District Council, North Yorkshire County councillor for the Upper Dales and chairman of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council has declared his intention to stand as an Independent candidate.

Cllr Blackie said he will focus his election campaign on local issues to fight for his communities in a time of austerity.

He said: “I have deep-seated local credentials and a record of standing up to be counted for the best interests of all the local communities in the constituency.

“I will rely on my very strong local connections, having lived in the Upper Dales for 30 years and bringing up my young family here.

“I have experience of being a significant employer in my own businesses based in Hawes, a knowledge of the needs of the local people gained from living and working in the constituency, and I have a long track record of achieving success for local communities as a parish and district councillor for 20 years and a county councillor for 18 years.”

Cllr Blackie is also a member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority; founder of the Upper Wensleydale Community Office in Hawes, and Little White Bus community service; and is Volunteer Head Postmaster in Hawes.

Despite his already large workload, he does not intend to drop any of his commitment if he is elected as MP.

He said: “There are seven MPs that are also district or borough councillors, and while I realise I won’t be able to keep up a leadership position, I want to keep my hand in with local issues.

“When so much of what we have enjoyed here in the constituency is under threat from the ravages of austerity, I feel it is the right time for our interests to be represented in parliament by an MP."

The seat is historically a safe Conservative seat but he believes he can give new candidate Rishi Sunak a run for his money.

“I will obviously have a mountain to climb but I will give it everything I have and certainly give him some competition.”

Carl Les from Richmond Conservative Association said: “We welcome debate on local and national issues with all candidates.

“We know who most of the candidates are now and I’m sure our candidate Rish Sunak can hold his own.

“He is spending most of his time out and about in the constituency – and although he is not from the area originally, neither was William Hague 25 years ago.”