EX-MAYOR and current town crier Bob Smytherman will stand for MP against Tim Loughton in May in a last-minute switch by the Liberal Democrats.
Personal circumstances have led to Jemima Bland, prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for East Worthing and Shoreham, stepping down just weeks from the general election.
Mr Smytherman, best known for his enthusiastic year as Worthing mayor in 2013/14, is a current borough and county councillor for Tarring.
Exclusively announcing her resignation to the Herald on Thursday, Mrs Bland said: “Bob is an excellent candidate who has worked tirelessly with me over the past few years to support our campaign. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me during the past few years and I wish Bob every success.”
Mr Smytherman would have to overturn a significant Conservative majority of more than 11,000 votes, after current MP Tim Loughton scored a landslide victory in 2010.
But election night may make for fascinating viewing as UKIP looks to build on winning seats in recent local elections. UKIP has made the constituency one of its top targets, with West Sussex party leader Mike Glennon set to stand.
And Mr Smytherman, born in Lancing, is looking forward to joining the battle.
He said: “I am both delighted and proud to be asked to represent the Liberal Democrats at the forthcoming election at such short notice.
“Realistically, I would like to beat Mike Glennon and James Doyle (Green). We should be second.
“I am hugely proud of what has been achieved in the coalition and in a way I hope I could have been a ‘coalition candidate’.”
Mr Loughton said Mr Smytherman had the advantage of being well-known and he looked forward to a friendly campaign.
He said: “It has clearly been very unsatisfactory to have an absentee Lib-Dem candidate for most of the last year and it is important that everyone has an active candidate for the party of their choice and this just wasn’t happening.”
Mr Glennon said he hoped Mr Smytherman would indeed come second – and push Mr Loughton into third place.
The other candidates are: James Doyle (Green), Tim Macpherson (Labour) and Carl Walker (National Health Action).
n What now for town crier role? Turn to page 72