THE Labour party has announced Stephen Rice as its candidate for the Harwich and North Essex constituency to stand in the General Election.

Stephen Rice, 62, was born in London, but has lived in West Mersea for nearly 30 years.

Although he doesn’t have a political background, he said he has a strong community focus and has worked with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the Diocese of Chelmsford and has been an RNLI volunteer for 14 years.

The dad-of-two has had a varied career in industry, commerce and the arts - he also has a trade union background.

Mr Rice said he wanted to stand for Parliament because he has been “complaining about how things are for years” and wanted to do something about it.

He said: “Successive Conservative and coalition Governments have overseen the biggest cuts to our public services in a generation.”

Every year, Mr Rice volunteers with Festival Friends, which is a voluntary organisation which enables adults with learning disabilities to enjoy holidays with their friends.

As part of his manifesto, he wants to campaign for better social services.

He said: “The NHS, social care and our schools are struggling under the weight of cuts and massive cuts to police budgets are putting our safety at risk.”

He said people of Harwich and North Essex need a representative who will put them first.

He added: “The former MP is beatable and I’m saying this because it’s a simple matter of mathematics.

“More than 70,000 people registered to vote the last time.

“Our former MP received just under 30,000, which means that 40,000 people didn’t want to vote for him, so he’s beatable.”

Mr Rice said he doesn’t agree with many Conservative and Unionist party policies.

“I’m standing for a party, the Labour party, which is people centred and will provide for the many - not for the privileged few,” he said.

“I’m hopeful I will win and I’m looking forward for the next few weeks to have a clean and thoughtful campaign with my brilliant team.”

The other Harwich and North Essex candidates known so far to be running in the general election include former Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, who will be fighting to retain his seat, Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Beckett and Independent candidate Richard Browning-Smith.