The Liberal Democrats has selected one of its parliamentary candidates for the UK’s next general election.
Frances Kneller, a 69-year-old managing director of a housing consultancy and property management company, is to stand for the party in a bid to become the representative of Sittingbourne and Sheppey.
The constituency’s current MP, Gordon Henderson, will stand down at the next election after more than a decade in the role.
The 75-year-old Tory kept his seat at the 2019 General Election to make it a third term in Westminster.
While it is still unknown which candidate the Conservatives will choose to maintain their seat, the Lib Dems have made their decision early in selecting Miss Kneller.
A resident of Buckinghamshire, she has stood for election three times since 2017 – for Chesham and Chiltern Town Council and Buckinghamshire County Council.
She also has a degree in social sciences.
The UK’s next general election is scheduled to be held at the latest date of January 24, 2025.
Although it could be held earlier, it is expected the current Tory administration will delay until as late as possible while it remains behind in current polls.
Sittingbourne and Sheppey is one of 650 constituencies in the UK.
The Lib Dems’ group leader for Swale, Hannah Perkin, believes Miss Kneller’s “ambitious” attitude will reap rewards for the borough.
The Abbey ward councillor explained: “I'm really pleased to see Frances elected to represent the party in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.
“She is an ambitious and hard-working campaigner who was a key part of the Liberal Democrats’ historic win in Chesham and Amersham.
“Her background, in housing and advocacy, means she truly understands the difficulties the lack of affordable housing across the country puts onto the shoulders of working families.
“So I’m looking forward to supporting her as she seeks to deliver the representation people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey deserve.”
When asked why a candidate was selected from outside of the county, Cllr Perkin added: “The Lib Dems have an open selection process where any approved candidate can apply for seats and it's up to local parties to decide who they want to represent them.
“This will obviously involve the candidates outlining how they will campaign.
“Frankly there's plenty of local MPs which live in their constituencies and offer little to no representation for the area.
“I'd rather have an MP who is willing to work for the people.”
Councillor for the Watling ward and the former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the constituency in 2019, Ben Martin, echoes the views of the Lib Dems’ leader.
Swale’s deputy mayor added: “I believe she will be an encouragement to our campaign in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.
“She brings a lot of experience with her and that should bring through some of our activists in the area.
“It is a tough constituency to be a Liberal Democrat in, so it’s never going to be easy.
“It has been very solid for Gordon Henderson over the years, although with a new Conservative candidate coming in there won’t be that incumbency factor.”