All you need to know about Batley and Spen by election candidate Ryan Stephenson

Batley and Spen has been represented by a Labour MP since 1997, but Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson believes he can change that at the upcoming by-election on July 1.

Ryan Stephenson, Conservative Party Candidate for Batley and Spen by-election

He was born and raised in Leeds and went to university in the city, before he began working on public policy programmes, including several run by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

These projects, which aimed to help more women and young people get involved in politics, took him to countries in Latin America, The Balkans and East Asia.

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The 32-year-old has been a governor at several schools and he is now a director at The GORSE Academies Trust, which runs 11 schools in the Leeds area.

He is also a Conservative councillor, who has represented Harewood on Leeds City Council since 2016, and chairman of the West Yorkshire Conservatives.

Has he stood in a General Election before?

Councillor Stephenson came in second when he stood in the 2017 General Election and Labour’s Fabian Hamilton won with a majority of 16,991 votes.

What is he promising voters in Batley and Spen?

The Tory candidate said if he is elected, he will focus on securing additional investment for the area, creating jobs and apprenticeships, improving schools and bolstering the police force with more officers.

“We need an MP who can work with the government to get that change and deliver that investment for the area,” he said.

“The key message I’m hearing from people on the doorstep, is they’re fed up with people always having a pop at the government, when actually they just want somebody to get on with the job, and deliver for people locally.”

He has admitted it will be “really tough” to win a seat which has been held by Labour for 24 years but voters are ready for change.

During a recent visit to West Yorkshire, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described Mr Stephenson as a “fantastic local candidate” who is “passionate” about the area.

He is competing against Labour’s Kim Leadbeater, the sister of Jo Cox, who represented the area before she was murdered by a right-wing extremist.

The by-election was triggered after Tracy Brabin, who won the seat for Labour in 2019 with a 3,525 majority over the Conservatives, was elected as the mayor of West Yorkshire in May.

A total of 16 candidates will contest the by-election on Thursday, although the poll is being seen as a straight two-way fight between Labour and the Conservatives.

Former MP and veteran campaigner George Galloway is running for his Workers Party and the Lib Dems have selected Tom Gordon.

The Yorkshire Party, which came third in the recent West Yorkshire mayoral election, will be represented by local engineer Corey Robinson.

The other candidates are: Paul Bickerdike (Christian Peoples Alliance); Mike Davies (Alliance For Green Socialism); Jayda Fransen (Independent); Therese Hirst (English Democrats); Howling Laud Hope (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party); Susan Laird (Heritage Party); Oliver Purser (Social Democratic Party); Andrew Smith (Rejoin EU); Jack Thomson (Ukip); Jonathan Tilt (Freedom Alliance); Anne Marie Waters (The For Britain Movement).