Former councillor says he is confident Tory stronghold will be won by Labour at general election

West Southend has been a Tory Stronghold for decades
-Credit: (Image: Environment Agency)

A former councillor has revealed he is confident of securing a historical win for Labour in Tory stronghold Southend West - but only if he is selected. Aston Line, who was Westborough Labour councillor before being dumped by the party ahead of this month's local elections, is adamant he is the best man to go head-to-head with Tory MP Anna Firth for the seat.

Ms Firth has said it is a "joy" to be campaigning and remains confident the "good people" of Southend West and Leigh will continue to support her despite polls predicting a tight affair. Mr Line, who believes an official candidate will be announced shortly, said: "The Labour Party has already announced a flurry of seats.

"Those are potentially less winnable than Southend West. It's not entirely clear yet in terms of the Southend West selection, whether we will get a full democratic selection or whether it will just be imposed by the party. I'm pretty confident. I hope to get a full selection process. I hope members get their say. I know I would have won in any democratic selection process. I'm the members' choice, I've got far more trade unions backing me."

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Mr Line said the NHS, the economy, housing and water quality would become his priorities if he won the seat. He added: "I think I'm the candidate that can win this seat and deliver Southend's first Labour MP so I'm confident but I just have to wait and see what happens.

"Every poll for the last six months has consistently shown that Labour will win this seat. It's a narrow margin. We're talking 2,000 but it has shown it's coming our way. When you take those numbers into consideration the candidate we pick makes a massive difference. I'm confident if I'm selected I can win this seat."

Ms Firth said her achievements since taking Sir David Amess' seat two years ago will earn her the backing of voters on July 4. She added: "While I have been the Member of Parliament for Southend West and Leigh for just over two years, I've achieved an enormous amount in a relatively short space of time. There's a great deal of positive news to talk about which always makes campaigning a joy.

"I'm optimistic that the good people of Southend West and Leigh will recognise my strong track record of getting things done. For example, I secured £8million for a reconfigured A&E at Southend Hospital, which has now opened, 11 new Ambulances for South Essex, and an additional £110 million for South Essex Hospitals, most of which is coming to Southend. The first Fracture Liaison Service across one region has been launched at Southend Hospital, a model for the rest of the country."

Earlier this year current St Laurence ward Labour councillor Lydia Hyde announced she was hopeful of being named parliamentary candidate, however, she was unable to comment when approached by the LDRS.