Liberal Democrats to stand Jo Conchie, community campaigner and producer on TV series Bargain Brits on Benefits, in Batley and Spen by-election

A television producer and director standing for the Liberal Democrats in the Batley and Spen by-election says her priority would be to ensure the area's "small towns and villages are no longer neglected".

Jo Conchie, whose most recent producing credits are on the TV series Bargain Brits on Benefits and Bargain-Loving Brits in Blackpool, is one of five candidates confirmed for the by-election on July 1.

The party says the former barrister is a community campaigner who "dedicates much of her time to her voluntary work, supporting vulnerable and elderly people with the initiatives and schemes she has set up".

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Jo Conchie is a community campaigner who "dedicates much of her time to her voluntary work, supporting vulnerable and elderly people with the initiatives and schemes she has set up".

Ms Conchie, who also recently stood to be police and crime commissioner in Cheshire, said in a statement that her family were in the village of Birkenshaw and "I've seen the entire constituency change drastically over the last two decades".

She added: "With the Tory Government and the Labour Councils focusing their attention on Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield, we're not getting our fair share here in Batley and Spen.

"If elected to be your MP my first priority would be to ensure that our small towns and villages are no longer neglected. Planning decisions are often made at the expense of our existing residents and destroying our green spaces.

"I would demand that sufficient infrastructure is in place to support any new developments.

"With years of cuts to funding, we've seen local health and social care services in Batley and Spen chronically underfunded. I would fight to change that.

"I have personally established a number of initiatives to support the elderly and vulnerable and those who are struggling financially. At the start of the pandemic, I set up a scheme to protect those who were shielding and my team of volunteers helped hundreds of people.

"A few years ago I also set up a baby bank, to provide essentials for parents in need. This has helped support many families through crisis, and we now work in partnership with a leading mother and baby charity."

She has also worked on TV shows including a documentary called A1: Britain's Longest Road and Pointless Celebrities.

Kath Pinnock, Liberal Democrat Lord and Councillor for Cleckheaton, said: "Jo has an outstanding track record for standing up for her community and would make a brilliant MP. The people of Batley and Spen have the chance to elect an incredibly hard-working campaigner who will put her constituents' interests above all else."

Earlier, former MP and veteran campaigner George Galloway has announced he is running in the forthcoming by-election with the explicit aim of ousting Sir Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour Party.

Mr Galloway is aiming to provide a further headache for Labour which will be looking to secure every vote it can get to avoid a similar fate to the party’s dramatic defeat by the Tories in Hartlepool earlier this month.

Kim Leadbeater – the sister of Jo Cox, who was Batley and Spen’s MP until she was murdered in the constituency in 2016 – was selected as Labour’s candidate earlier this week.

But the Conservatives, who have chosen Leeds councillor Ryan Stephenson as their candidate, will also be looking closely at who else is on the ballot paper, potentially complicating the electoral maths.

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.

And the Yorkshire Party, which has selected local engineer Corey Robinson to fight the by-election, came third in the recent West Yorkshire mayoral election, with nearly 10% of the vote, beating the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

It was the West Yorkshire mayoral poll which prompted the Batley and Spen by-election as the winner, Labour’s Tracy Brabin, had to relinquish her parliamentary seat due to her new role.

Ms Brabin was elected in Batley and Spen in 2016 in a largely uncontested by-election following Miss Cox’s murder.

In the 2019 general election she won for Labour with a majority of 3,525 over the Conservatives.