THE battle has begun for the Weaver Vale seat in the next General Election.

There are less than 12 months to go until the UK goes to the ballot box on May 7 next year and, following the European elections, UKIP is the latest party to set the marginal Weaver Vale constituency in its sights.

Their parliamentary candidate for the seat is Cuddington father-of-two John Bickley, a Cuddington parish councillor who also stood in the by-election for the Sale and Wythenshawe seat in February, coming second to Labour’s Michael Kane.

“Our appeal to the working class spells big trouble for Labour which has complacently assumed that Weaver Vale will fall into its lap at the General Election,” he said.

“Labour has taken its traditional voters for granted for too many years, however UKIP now offers them a fresh choice and as the local and European elections have proved they are coming over to UKIP in droves.”

John, 61, grew up in Wythenshawe but has lived at Delamere Park for 20 years.

“This is my neck of the woods and I believe Weaver Vale is winnable,” he said.

“It will be tough because the other parties will want to fight tooth and nail.

“I hope for a campaign based on ideas rather than smears.”

He said some of the key issues in Weaver Vale are a lack of a local voice because of the power wielded by Europe, over development of the countryside as immigration increases city populations and pushes people into the ‘green and pleasant land’, the expense of HS2 and climate change measures driving industry out of the UK and increasing energy bills.

“I feel like we’re stirring the pot.” he said.

“One of my great worries is that there aren’t enough people involved in politics so at least we’re getting some people re-engaged with it.”

Julia Tickridge, Labour’s candidate for Weaver Vale, said she was confident Labour could win the constituency.

“I’m focussed on my campaign here,” she said.

“I’m talking to people about what is important to them and listening to their concerns.

“Families in Northwich, Frodsham, Helsby and Runcorn are facing a cost-of-living crisis.

“Food and energy prices continue to rise, child care costs have spiralled, but wages have stayed the same.

“The Tories don’t care and UKIP don’t have the answers.

“Labour will tackle the cost-of-living crisis and freeze energy bills, expand free childcare and strengthen the minimum wage.”

Sitting MP Graham Evans, who will defend his seat on behalf of the Conservatives at the election, said he was more focussed on working for the people of Weaver Vale now.

“There have been several candidates wanting to be the Member of Parliament for Weaver Vale but until the election I am the MP for Weaver Vale and will carry on working hard for the people of Weaver Vale and championing this part of Cheshire,” he said.

“As a politician and an individual I believe in putting people first, not politics.

“I appreciate UKIP want to talk about national politics but all I want to talk about is helping local people – that’s what I will focus on until the next election at which time I will be a candidate and standing on my record of service and hopefully delivery for the five years I have been the MP.”