A LEADING Ryedale councillor has been chosen by his party to run for MP in the next general election.

Howard Keal has today (Wednesday) been selected as the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the new constituency of Thirsk and Malton.

He will battle for the seat against Vale of York’s Conservative MP Anne McIntosh.

He said: “The opportunity to fight for the right to represent this area is a huge honour.

“I welcome the major challenge ahead. I’m determined to offer people a real choice so no one is faced with a tired diet of more of the same.”

He said his focus will be on protecting vulnerable towns from flooding, campaigning to ending tuition fees and fighting the exploitation of farmers by the supermarkets.

With his wife Di, also a member of Ryedale District Council, he successfully battled for £9.5million of defences to protect Malton, Norton and Old Malton.

He added: “I will put the failure of this Government to provide the same protection for our towns – as well as many vulnerable villages – at the centre of this campaign.

“When the Pitt report was issued on the anniversary of the major floods not a single one of its 92 recommendations demanded more money for defences.

“That was bad enough, but I have not seen a single line of criticism of the report from the Shadow Floods Minister – Anne McIntosh.”

Speaking a week after an incident in Malton in which two men were wounded, he said his priorities are to tackle knife crime.

He said: “We need young people especially to realise that carrying a knife leads to serious injuries and death.

“Our constituency is a low crime area, but even Malton saw a double stabbing just a few days ago. There’s no room for complacency.”