Greens select Rugby League player Ross Peltier as their candidate in Batley and Spen by-election

A Rugby League international player has been selected by the Green Party to be their candidate in next month's Batley and Spen by-election.

Ross Peltier, a Jamaica rugby league international prop who also plays for Doncaster Dons, lives with his partner and young children in the constituency, according to the Green. He also works in the building sector.

He is one of seven candidates confirmed to be standing in the West Yorkshire seat to replace former MP Tracy Brabin who last month was elected as the county's metro mayor.

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On his selection by North Kirklees Green Party, 29-year-old Mr Peltier said: “From a young age I have been raised to have a passion for your local community, to give to and help others to create a better place for us all to live in.

Ross Peltier, a Jamaica rugby league international prop who also plays for Doncaster Dons, lives with his partner and young children in the constituency, according to the Green. He also works in the building sector.

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“I gained this passion through my parents and how active they have been in communities within Kirklees and the West Yorkshire area. I was immersed in such events, meeting with community groups and really begun to understand that the diversity and strength in character is one of the major things that makes our region so special.

“I moved to the Cleckheaton area to raise my young family a number of years ago and loved the area since day one. As a working-class man who lives in the area in a humble terrace house, I feel I am like everyone else in the area and relatable to them.

“I feel I am in tune with the attitudes, needs and wants from the area through living and working shoulder to shoulder with everyday people within the community.

“As a professional rugby league player I have a profile of sorts in an area which holds rugby league as its beating heart. I feel I can bridge the gap with the working person who has been a single party voter all his life to the Green Party. “

The by-election was triggered after Tracy Brabin had to quit Westminster following her election as the first mayor of West Yorkshire. The writ for the by-election was moved in the Commons by Labour, with the party saying polling day will take place on July 1.

Labour is defending a majority of 3,525 over the Tories from the 2019 general election and Sir Keir Starmer's party will be desperate to avoid losing another northern seat.

The party lost Hartlepool in a by-election on May 6 as another brick in the "red wall" of northern seats crumbled, with Ryan Stephenson hoping for a repeat performance as the Tory candidate in Batley and Spen.

Corey Robinson, a medical research engineer who designed a device that helps to repair damaged tendons in the hand has been selected as the Yorkshire Party's candidate.

In the December 2019 general election, Paul Halloran, representing the Heavy Woollen District Independents, came third in Batley and Spen, securing more than 6,000 votes – 12% of the total. Mr Halloran has not yet confirmed whether he is standing on July 1.

The Liberal Democrats have chosen Jo Conchie, a TV producer and "community campaigner" who recently stood to be Cheshire's crime commissioner, as their candidate. And Ukip's candidate is Jack Thomson.

Veteran campaigner George Galloway, who was the MP for Bradford West between 2012 and 2015, is standing as a candidate for his Workers Party of Britain in the poll on July 1.

Campaigning in Batley and Spen could be complicated by coronavirus, with Kirklees one of the areas where people have been encouraged to “minimise travel” due to the spread of the Indian variant.

Councillor Andrew Cooper, who leads the Greens on Kirklees Council, said: “Ross is exactly the sort of candidate who can gain new Green votes in Batley and Spen and capture the imagination of local people.

“He really is a local boy and a role model for so many. He has a passion for our area and as a Green MP would not have party bosses telling him how to vote. He really would be free to represent Batley and Spen without the rules binding MPs from the two larger parties.

“By-elections are different to general elections. People won’t change the government but they do have the opportunity to send a strong message about what they think is important and the sort of person they want to represent them. We are keen to win every vote we can in this election and we will be working right the way through until polling day.”