By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
A West Leeds councillor has been selected by the party to contest the new Leeds South West and Morley seat at the next General Election.
Mark Sewards won a vote of party members in a run-off against fellow candidate Anna Baxter over the weekend.
Mr Sewards, who is a teacher by trade, has also been a councillor for the Farnley and Wortley ward on Leeds City Council since last year.
He will be competing against Conservative MP and Boris Johnson loyalist Andrea Jenkyns, who secured a majority of over 11,000 at the last General Election in 2019.
Speaking on Monday, 33 year-old Mr Sewards said it was “an honour” to be selected.
“I was born and raised in Morley and now I’m raising my family in Farnley and Wortley, so that connection to this area I want to represent means a great deal,” he said.
“We’ve got a Conservative government that’s been in power for 13 years. Ask voters if they’re better off after those 13 years and the answer in almost every case is ‘no’.”
As a younger Labour member, Mr Sewards was part of Ed Balls’ team when the party lost Morley to the Conservatives at the 2015 General Election.
Though he admitted that defeat was “devastating”, he insisted the experience did not give him any extra motivation to try to win the seat back.
He said: “We’ll be going door to door to engage with voters, including those who’ve voted Conservative at the last four general elections.
“We’re going to win those people back by offering real solutions to the problems they’re facing today, and I believe I can do that.”
Mr Sewards attended Morley High School in his youth, having grown up in the Churwell Hill area of the town. He currently lives in Wortley with his wife – Armley Labour councillor Alice Smart – and young family.
The new Leeds South West and Morley constituency is a result of the Parliamentary boundary shake-up taking place across the country ahead of the next election, which is likely to be held in 2024.
Ms Jenkyns’ Morley and Outwood seat is one of those being abolished, with Morley now grouped with Farnley & Wortley ward and parts of outer south Leeds to form the new seat.
Parts of the Leeds West and Pudsey seats are being merged to create a new constituency.