THE leader of Tendring Council has "thrown his hat into the ring" to become the Conservative candidate for Clacton in the upcoming election.
Neil Stock, 49, from Little Bromley, who fronts the Conservative-led administration, said he wanted to win the Clacton seat back for the Conservatives at the snap election on June 8.
Mr Stock, who was this year honoured with an OBE for services to local government, first took charge of Tendring Council for three years in 2009 and has currently led the council since 2014.
Mr Stock could face off against his council cabinet colleague Giles Watling, who took on current MP Douglas Carswell at the Clacton by-election in 2014 and the General Election in 2015.
He said: "I think we have a unique opportunity to win the seat back for the Conservatives.
"Theresa May's decision to call an election was a surprise to most people.
"I had been speaking to the Conservative Party in the past weeks about the possibility of standing at the General Election in 2020, but events have now overtaken things."
Mr Stock added: "I have spoken to Giles, who is a close personal friend of mine.
“He would be a very strong candidate and we would support each other if either of us are selected to be the Conservative candidate.
“What I want to do as MP for Clacton is concentrate on delivering for the people of Clacton.
"I wouldn’t just want to be a national politician for national issues. I have a track record of delivering in Clacton for the people of Clacton.
“In our constituency we have the most deprived area in the country and we have a responsibility to deliver for those residents and see some real investment in Clacton and the Tendring area.
“We market ourselves as a seaside resort, but on sunny days the roads are backed up to the A12 – we need investment in our roads.
“We need a strong voice in Westminster fighting for investment and infrastructure.”
- Giles Watling
Frinton councillor Mr Watling, who is also Tendring Council's cabinet member for regeneration, cut Mr Carswell's majority from 12,404 votes at the by-election in 2014 to just 3,437 votes in 2015.
"Neil is a close personal friend and I wish him good luck, but not too much," he joked.
"I have been down the election road twice and reduced Douglas' majority to just under 3,500.
"I think Neil would be a good candidate, but if we want to win, I think I would be best placed to do so.
"I have been out on the streets of Clacton supporting our county council candidates and have had a great reaction on the doorstep.
"I feel our current MP has ignored us recently while he has been getting on with other things.
"It is about time someone fought for our area and I think we need a local person to do that."
It is understood that the Clacton Conservative Association will meet before the end of the month to discuss how its candidate for the election will be selected.