NOMINATIONS for the General Election closed last night, revealing a surge in independent candidates in the region.

Politics was shocked when former BBC journalist Martin Bell – the man in the white suit – defeated Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in 1997.

But this year, independents will contest many North-East and North Yorkshire seats.

Candidates and commentators say the trend reflects mistrust of the major parties and the political system.

Watts Stelling, leader of the Derwentside Independent Group on Durham County Council, is contesting the North-West Durham seat.

He said: “You couldn’t slip a £20 note between Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. It’s the cosy club. I want to break that monopoly.

“If I become an MP, I would be a worker, not a career MP.

I would vote for North-West Durham, not for any party.”

However, many independents are standing to highlight one or more issues local to their constituency.

Frank Cook is standing in Stockton North – an area he has represented as a Labour MP for 27 years – after being deselected by the party two years ago.

Mr Cook said: “The party gave me a free transfer. I’ve decided to give the people of Stockton North the opportunity to express their view. I’m as fit as ever and I’m working harder than ever.

“I was offered support from other political parties, but I refused it.”

Solicitor Yvonne Hossack is fighting Stockton South, having taken the case of a 101- year-old dementia sufferer – whose Thornaby care home was closed – to the European Court of Human Rights.

She said: “The people of Stockton South asked me to stand. I think people are turning away from the main parties.

There will be savage cuts, whoever comes into government, and I believe there is a real risk they will be directed towards the NHS and care homes.”

Sam Zair is contesting Bishop Auckland under the banner Local Liberals Before Politics Party, having formerly been a Liberal Democrat county councillor, while Paul Gittins, an independent councillor, is fighting the Sedgefield constituency.

The Reverend Glyn Evans, vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Newcastle, is contesting the Newcastle Central seat.

● Elsewhere, the candidates are: Houghton and Sunderland South: Karen Allen (BNP), Christopher Peter Boyle (Lib Dem), Richard Peter Elvin (UKIP), Robert Geoffrey Oliver (Con), Bridget Phillipson (Lab), Colin Wakefield (Ind).

Sunderland Central: Paul Dixon (Lib Dem), Julie Elliott (Lab), Pauline Featonby-Warren (UKIP), Lee Martin (Con), John Vincent McCaffrey (BNP).

Washington and Sunderland West: Peter Andras (Lib Dem), Ian Malcolm Cuthbert (Con), Sharon Hodgson (Lab), Linda Hudson (UKIP), Ian McDonald (BNP).

Blaydon: Dave Anderson (Lab), Neil Bradbury (Lib Dem), Glenn Hall (Con), Keith McFarlane (BNP).

Gateshead: Hazel Anderson (Con), Elaine Brunskill (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Frank Hindle (Lib Dem), Ian Mearns (Lab), Andy Redfern (Green), Kevin Scott (BNP), John Tennant (UKIP), David Walton (The Christian Party).

Sedgefield: Paul Steven Gittins (Ind), Brian James Gregory (UKIP), Neil Mahapatra (Con), Alan Thompson (Lib Dem), Mark Walker (BNP), Phil Wilson (Lab).

Bishop Auckland: Dave Brothers (UKIP), Helen Goodman (Lab), Barbara Harrison (Con), Adam Walker (BNP), Mark Wilkes (Lib Dem), Sam Zair (Local Liberals People Before Politics Party).

City of Durham: Roberta Carol Blackman-Woods (Lab), Nigel Revell Coghill-Marshall (UKIP), Jonathan Charles Collings (Ind), Ralph Stephen Musgrave (BNP), Nick Varley (Con), Carol Woods (Lib Dem).

Easington: Martyn David Aiken (UKIP), Cheryl Ann Dunn (BNP), Richard Jefferies Harrison (Con), Grahame Mark Morris (Lab), Tara Julie Saville (Lib Dem).

North Durham: Kevan David Jones (Lab), Ian Paul Lindley (Lib Dem), Pete Molloy (BNP), Bruce Robertson Reid (UKIP), David James Skelton (Con).

North West Durham: Pat Glass (Lab), Andrew McDonald (UKIP), Watts Stelling (Ind), Michael Stewart (BNP), Michelle Elizabeth Tempest (Con), Owen Temple (Lib Dem).

Hartlepool: Stephen Allison (UKIP), Reg Clark (Lib Dem), Ronnie Bage (BNP), Alan Wright (Con), Iain Wright (Lab).

Middlesbrough: Stuart Bell (Lab), Michael Ferguson (BNP), Chris Foote-Wood (Lib Dem), Joan McTigue (Ind), Robert Parker (UKIP), John Walsh (Con).

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland: Mike Allen (Ind), Tom Blenkinsop (Lab), Paul Bristow (Con), Nick Emmerson (Lib Dem), Shaun Gatley (BNP), Stuart Lightwing (UKIP).

Redcar: Vera Baird (Lab), Kevin Broughton (BNP), Martin Bulmer (UKIP), Steve Mastin (Con), Ian Swales (Lib Dem), Hannah Walter (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition).

Stockton North: Frank Cook (Ind), Alex Cunningham (Lab), Ian Galletley (Con), Philip Latham (Lib Dem), James MacPherson (BNP), Gordon Parkin (UKIP), Ian Saul (Eng Dem).

Stockton South: Jacquie Bell (Lib Dem), Peter Braney (UKIP), Yvonne Hossack, (Ind), Neil Sinclair (BNP), Ted Strike (Christian Party), Dari Taylor (Lab), James Wharton (Con).

Thirsk and Malton: Anne McIntosh (Con), Howard Keal (Lib Dem), John Boakes (UKIP), John Clark (Lib), Jonathan Roberts (Lab).

Skipton and Ripon: Bernard Allen (BNP), Claire Hazelgrove (Lab), Dylan Gilligan (Youth Party), Helen Flynn (Lib Dem), Julian Smith (Con), Robert Leakey (Virtue Currency Cognitive Appraisal Party), Rodney Mills (UKIP), Roger Bell (Ind).

York Outer: James Martin Alexander (Lab), Julian Charles (Con), Madeline Anne Kirk (Lib Dem), Judith Mary Morris (UKIP), Cathy Smurthwaite (BNP).

Scarborough and Whitby: Juliet Marie Boddington (Alliance for Green Socialism), Dilys Vine Cluer (Green), Annajoy David (Lab), Tania Exley-Moore (Lib Dem), Robert Goodwill (Con), Michael John James (UKIP), Peter Popple (Ind), Trisha Scott (BNP).

Richmond: Eileen Driver (Lab), William Hague (Con), Lawrence Meredith (Lib Dem), Leslie Rowe (Green).

Harrogate and Knaresborough: Steven Gill (BNP), Andrew Jones (Con), Claire Kelley (Lib Dem), Kevin McNerney (Lab), John Upex (UKIP).

York Central: Paul Abbott (UKIP), Hugh Bayley (Lab), Andrew David Chase (Green), Jeff Kelly (BNP), Christian Vassie (Lib), Eddie Vee (MRLP), Susan Wade-Weeks (Con).

Darlington: Mike Barker (Lib Dem), Charlotte Elizabeth Bull (UKIP), Jenny Chapman (Lab), Amanda Foster (BNP), Edward Legard (Con).