Council leader is Labour candidate

The leader of a council in London has won the right to represent the Labour Party in the fight for the Northampton South seat.

Clyde Loakes, aged 38, was born and brought up in Northampton but now lives in London where he is leader of Waltham Forest council.

Despite not having lived in the town since he left to go to university in the 1990s, he said that would not hamper his campaign, which would pit him against the current Conservative incumbent, Brian Binley, and Lib-Dem borough councillor Paul Varnsverry.

He said: "To people who question how I can run for the seat despite not living in Northampton I would say that I actually haven't lost touch with issues in Northampton.

"When you have been away from somewhere you can pick up fresh ideas and solutions and bring those back and I believe that's what I have done."

Councillor Loakes said he would remain as Waltham Forest leader while he campaigned for Northampton South, but would step down in the event he was voted MP at which point he would move back to Northampton.

He has already stepped down from one high-profile position recently with Walthamstow's Local Strategic Partnership (LSP).

Local opposition leaders blamed him for presiding over mismanagement of regeneration funds.

But Councillor Loakes dismissed the claims saying that other parties were trying to make political capital out of his leaving.

He said: "The reason why I stepped down was that the council shouldn't be seen to dominate the LSP. Suggestions that I have stepped down for any other reason are pure political mischief."

The candidacy results were decided on Sunday night at the Guildhall where the five-shortlisted candidates made a short speech followed by a vote by local Labour party members.

Former Northampton Borough Councillor Anjona Roy came second and was understood to be only one vote behind Councillor Loakes.

She refused to criticise Councillor Loakes for being from outside of the town, but said she felt privileged to have gone as far as she had in the contest.

She said: "The actual selection had 12 people interested in it and I was lucky enough to make the shortlist of five. That is an indication of the amount of interest there is in the seat for the Labour Party. I'm sure Clyde Loakes will be bringing a lot of campaigning expertise to the local party."

There is no date for a General Election but one must be held by June 3, 2010.