UKIP put forward Euro MP to contest Dearne seat

Ukip MEP Mike Hookem delivers his speech on defence during the Ukip annual party conference at Doncaster Race Course in Yorkshire. Picture date: Friday September 26, 2014. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 26, 2014. See PA story POLITICS Ukip. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Ukip MEP Mike Hookem delivers his speech on defence during the Ukip annual party conference at Doncaster Race Course in Yorkshire. Picture date: Friday September 26, 2014. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 26, 2014. See PA story POLITICS Ukip. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The UK Independence Party has changed its candidate to contest the Wentworth and Dearne constituency seat in May’s General Election.

Rotherham UKIP councillor Martyn Parker has been replaced by senior party candidate Mike Hookem, one of UKIP’s two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in Yorkshire.

Mr Hookem will attempt to dislodge Labour’s John Healey, a former minister, who won with a majority of 13,920 in 2010.

UKIP previously secured 10 seats on Rotherham Council last May, enough to make it the biggest opposition group on the authority.

A UKIP spokesman said: “Coun Martyn Parker has stood down from the campaign, due to a re-evaluation of the seat.

“This decision is in no way a reflection on Martyn, who is still a valued councillor and member of the party.”

Mr Hookem said: “I’m honoured to have the opportunity to fight the Wentworth and Dearne seat on behalf of UKIP.

“From speaking to local residents, the people of the area are crying out for change and I believe UKIP offer the only realistic alternative to Labour for many voters.

“I am under no illusion that it will be a hard fight to break the Labour stranglehold on this constituency.

“But I don’t shrink from a challenge, and I look forward to leading the way in tackling the many issues that affect voters in the area.”

Mr Healey is currently taking legal action against UKIP MEP Jane Collins and coun Caven Vines, UKIP group leader on Rotherham Council, over comments they have made in relation to the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham.