THE UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage is set to visit Leek as the campaign to win seats on Staffordshire County Council hots up.
Residents across the Staffordshire Moorlands will go to the polls to elect their representative on the authority, on Thursday, May 2.
The elections are expected to be fiercely contested, with the controversial road changes in Leek being included on some of the candidates’ agendas.
Chairman of the Moorlands branch of UKIP, Alex Povey, said this week it would contest all seven of the Staffordshire Moorlands’ county council seats for the first time.
It comes after the party won second to the Liberal Democrats in the recent Eastleigh by-election, pushing the Conservatives into third.
He said: “I have invited Nigel Farage to Leek on April 4.
“This will be the first time we have contested all county council seats across the Staffordshire Moorlands.
“Following the excellent result in the Eastleigh Parliamentary byelection, the party is upbeat about the future.”
Mr Povey confirmed he would be standing in the Leek South seat, while Lesley Roberts would stand for Leek Rural.
Former Moorlands MP and now a district councillor, Charlotte Atkins, has already announced that she will fight the Leek South seat.
Ms Atkins said: “Leek has had two years of excuses from the county council regarding the blunders over the road works fiasco. The people of Leek need someone with a strong voice to stand up the town.
“The excuses have not washed with residents as the county council has not taken on board their comments; instead it has dismissed them.”
The Conservatives last week selected district councillor Brian Johnson to fight the Leek South seat after present councillor Neal Podmore announced three weeks ago that he would not be standing again.
Following his selection last week at the Leek branch of the Staffordshire Moorlands Conservative Association Mr Johnson said: “Leek would not appear to have been served particularly well by the county council recently with the controversy around the new road system, and the input of the county highways authority.
“Local people who have followed this fiasco will know that I, along with the late councillor Steve Povey, were the only two Leek councillors to speak against the original plans to change the roads, and I have consistently fought for the last 12 months to get the best out of what could only be called a bad deal.
“If I am elected to serve the people of the Leek division at county, I will guarantee to fight their corner over issues that concern them and I will never be scared of speaking my mind on things which effect Leek South.”
Long serving district councillor Linda Malyon has confirmed that she will fight the Leek Rural seat for the Moorlands Democratic Alliance.
Mrs Malyon said: "I have been a district and parish councillor for 22 years and I think I have now built up enough knowledge of local government. I have no political agenda, as I just want to help people in the area."
Present county councillor for Leek Rural is Gill Heath who has also confirmed she will be fighting to retain the seat she first won in 1997.
Mrs Heath said: “I will be standing again for Leek Rural. I have been a county councillor since 1997 and I really enjoy it, and I also like being kept busy.
"I always try to do my best for people and also enjoy helping such initiatives as village halls.”