IAN Stephens, who quit as Isle of Wight Council leader last night (Wednesday), is to stand as an independent candidate for MP.
Cllr Stephens said he will still continue as an Isle of Wight councillor during his parliamentary campaign.
Last night, Cllr Stephens told colleagues: “I feel it’s time to step aside so the council can change gear and move forward.”
It emerged this morning however, that Cllr Stephens intends to take on Conservative MP Andrew Turner in the General Election in May.
Cllr Stephens said he would remain an executive member, with responsibility for finance and asset management, and would continue as chair of the Local Government Association’s culture tourism and sport board.
He said he would focus on his work with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and other business organisations.
He was replaced as Isle of Wight Council leader by Cllr Jonathan Bacon, who will continue in his education role.
Other candidates also due to stand in the General Election include Vix Lothian (Green Party), Iain McKie (UKIP) and Stewart Blackmore (Labour Party).
Eastleigh councillor David Goodall is expected to represent the Liberal Democrats.*In a statement issued this morning (Thursday) Cllr Stephens said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Isle of Wight Council Leader and, having brought the council into a much better place than it was in two years ago, I feel the time has come for me to step aside as leader, not only to allow a new leader to take forward the next stage of this work and build upon our significant achievements to date but also to take the opportunity to stand as a candidate to represent the Isle of Wight in Parliament as our elected MP.
“I have already undertaken a great deal of work to develop economic opportunities for the Isle of Wight much of which has involved me working with many national agencies and holding meetings with Ministers and officials at all levels of Government and I feel that I can now best serve the Island by using this experience and the knowledge I have attained to further the development of opportunities for the Isle of Wight by promoting its unique, yet special case.
“It will also be a great asset to the Isle of Wight to have an MP who can work closely with the Isle of Wight Council administration to present a united front in fighting for the interests and benefits of the Island and all of its residents and businesses.”