THE leader of a Lancashire council's Conservative group has been selected as the party's candidate for Bury South at the next General Election.

Christian Wakeford will take on a constituency won by Ivan Lewis for Labour by 5,965 votes before he was suspended by the party and then resigned to sit as an Independent.

Cllr Wakeford, 34, has a background in the communication and insurance sectors and has previously been a youth worker at his local church and a school governor.

He took over as leader of the Tory group on Pendle Council in East Lancashire after the resignation of his predecessor Paul White and shortly before the party lost control of the council.

Cllr Wakeford, married to Alexandra and a fan of rugby and real ale, said “Whilst the economy has turned a corner, times are still tough for hardworking families and young people. I would push to see more investment in the local economy, promoting local businesses and ensure that even more apprenticeships are available across Bury South.

“I also think we need to get tougher on criminals and as the Conservative MP for Bury South I would be in a position to lobby the government to achieve this. I believe that tougher punishments are needed as deterrents to would be criminals. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have proven to be ineffective but with overcrowded prisons an answer needs to be found.”

Cllr Wakeford was a leading figure in the North West campaign to elect Boris Johnson as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.

Mr Lewis, who has yet to decide whether to stand again as an Independent, said: "I would have thought the Conservatives could have found a more local candidate."