A FORMER Castle Point Labour councillor has been chosen to challenge Tory MP Rebecca Harris at next year’s general election.

Joe Cooke, who represented St Georges Ward for a total of 11 years, will take on Mrs Harris, who was elected in 2010 with a majority of 7,632.

Mr Cooke, who moved to Thundersley in 1970, was a member of the first Castle Point Council after local government re-organisation.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted the local Labour Party has chosen me to take the fight to the Tories in Castle Point.

“Rebecca Harris has voted for policies which have really hit local people hard and left residents here worse off.

“Only Labour can stand up for our community.

“Labour would protect our NHS from creeping privatisation, abolish the cruel and unjust bedroom tax, freeze energy bills until 2017 and guarantee a job for anyone in Castle Point who has been out of work for more than two years.

“If elected, I will be a strong voice for Castle Point and seek to undo the damage done by this Tory-led Government.”

Mr Cooke, a retired senior systems analyst, is also a governor of Southend Hospital and a trustee of Castle Point ý Challenger – Joe Cooke Citizens Advice Bureau.