80 sign up to vote for Tory candidate in Dudley South

The Conservatives have tonight chosen Mike Wood to try to hold on to a key marginal Black Country seat.

80 sign up to vote for Tory candidate in Dudley South

Eighty members of the public had signed up for the opportunity to choose from one of four candidates who wanted to replace Chris Kelly as the MP for Dudley South.

The Conservatives chose to hold a US-style 'open primary' to find a candidate for the General Election in May.

It meant any registered voter who lives in the constituency was allowed to apply to vote, even if they were not Conservative party members.

The Tories drew up a shortlist of four candidates and let voters decide.

Winner Mr Wood, a councillor in Dudley, works for current Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris.

Dudley South is a key seat as it was one the Tories won from Labour in 2010 and must hold on to if David Cameron is to win a majority at the General Election.

The Conservative majority is 3,856.

The other three finalists being put to the vote were mother-of-two Sibby Buckle, a community pharmacist, Helen Harrison, a businesswoman who runs her own medical practice, Greg Smith, the son of a former chief inspector of police and grandson of a sheet metal worker from Netherton, who runs a marketing business.

The constituency takes in Brierley Hill, Brockmoor and Pensnett, Kingswinford North and Wall Heath, Kingswinford South, Netherton, Woodside, St Andrews and Wordsley. At the last election there were more than 61,000 registered voters.

Mr Kelly announced he would be leaving the Commons at the General Election saying he had found it 'increasingly difficult to find the right balance between my work and my personal and family life' and that the 'unpredictability of business in the Commons combined with driving back and forth between the West Midlands and London has meant that I haven't been able to see those close to me as often as I'd like'.

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