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Swale Lib Dem chairman, Keith Nevols, urges party to select a national candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey

By Andy Gray

The chairman of Swale Liberal Democrats has admitted his party is leaving it late to submit a candidate the general election.

With just under a year to go, Keith Nevols outlined the reasons for the delay in announcing a prospective parliamentary candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

He said: “The party is prioritising the target seats – the seats where we have MPs in place or the marginals where we have a chance of winning.

Swale Lib Dem candidate Keith Nevols

“In Sittingbourne and Sheppey we don’t have as greater chance as some of the others.

“It’s not a target seat, but we’ll be doing all we can to win it.”

Mr Nevols, 46, said he will be putting himself forward to stand as he did in 2010.

Although he finished third in a constituency which is traditionally a two-way fight between the Tories and Labour, he secured a 3.6% increase in the Lib Dem vote from 2005.

He said whichever candidate his party selects, it will be a tough ask to build on its 2010 showing.

“It’ll be harder because we’ve been in government and we’ve had difficult decisions to make,” he said. “Locally, we’ve lost some councillors, and we only have one in Swale.

Guy Nicholson, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

“It will be tough, but we’ll do our best.” Guy Nicholson is Labour’s candidate to challenge Tory MP Gordon Henderson and Richard Palmer will represent UKIP.

Mr Nevols, who became Swale’s Lib Dem chairman in November 2013, said his party also left it late last time.

When asked if he thought it was time his party got a “move on”, he replied: “I completely agree, and we’re also looking for a candidate for Faversham and Mid-Kent.

“We are advertising internally and have made some progress.

“Once applications are in, we’ll be holding hustings and hope to announce our candidate by the summer – but I can’t say for definite.

“I’m pushing things along, but I’m slightly restricted because I intend to stand myself, but I can get the ball rolling.”

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