Lib Dems choose Cotswold MP candidate, takes shot at Tory incumbent
A SERVING district and county councillor has been tasked with overturning a sizeable Conservative majority to win the Cotswolds for the Liberal Democrats at the next General Election.
Paul Hodgkinson, current leader of the Lib Dems on Cotswold District Council, was chosen by the party to try and win the seat currently held by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
Mr Clifton-Brown has represented the constituency as its MP since 1992.
Mr Hodgkinson, 51, was elected to Gloucestershire County Council in May after narrowly winning the traditionally Tory-held Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach division.
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The yellow party is hoping he can replicate his win on a larger scale.
Mr Clifton-Brown won a majority of just shy of 13,000 the last time the country went to the polls in 2010, winning 29,000 votes.
The Lib Dems received just over 16,000 votes.
“Residents asked me to stand after seeing my record as a councillor and I will be the voice for the many who feel disconnected from decisions made in Cirencester and at Shire Hall in Gloucester,” Mr Hodgkinson said.
“I want to give our area a real voice, actively speaking up for it rather than seeing some MPs motivated by their own pockets.”
Mr Hodgkinson was first elected to Cotswold District Council in 2007 to represent the Churn Valley, and he became leader of the group four years ago.
He said he is hoping to build on the Liberal Democrats’ success in the Cotswolds at the county council elections earlier this year, which saw the party gain three seats.
“There is a demand for change and growing disillusionment with the performance of the Tories locally, right through from district and county level to our MP's track record in Parliament,” he said.
Mr Hodgkinson took his selection as an opportunity to hit out at his opposition, saying: “Those in power have concentrated on turning the area into a second home haven for privileged outsiders while ignoring the pressing needs of working local families. That is something I will be fighting to change.
“Our progress at district and county level has already shaken the Tories and we will be working hard to make the 2015 general election the next major upset.”
He added: “Mr Clifton-Brown has had 22 years to get things fixed in the constituency and has been a part-time MP.
“I will do everything I can to build a stronger economy and a fairer society in the Cotswolds and give this area the effective and energetic representation it so badly needs at Westminster.”
Mayor of Cirencester, Councillor Joe Harris, was mentored by Mr Hodgkinson after he was elected at the age of 19. He said: “The Cotswolds needs a change of representation at Westminster and Paul is the best man for the job. Under his leadership we have been standing up for Cotswolds people on the big issues that matter - tackling the cost of living in our area, working to sort out transport problems and protecting the unique character of the district.”