THE LABOUR Party is fielding more candidates than ever before in Epping Forest's local elections in May in a bid to win a first seat since 2006.

For the past 12 years the party has not held a position in the Conservative led Epping Forest District Council.

On May 3 an unprecedented number of voters across the district will have the opportunity to buck this trend and give Labour their support, something recently elected chair Angela Ayre is confident will happen.

Speaking at the party's campaign launch on April 5, she said: "We want to make a real difference in the area and can only do so by gaining council seats and representing the hard working residents of Epping Forest crying out for real change after decades of cuts to local services by the complacent Conservative led council administration.

"It is impossible now to ignore the adverse effect the weak divided minority Conservative Government austerity policy has on the lives of Epping Forest residents. Even the Conservative Party's ex-Heath Minister, Andrew Lansley, has blamed NHS cutbacks for failing to detect his bowel cancer sooner and the Conservative Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, appears to be oblivious to the link between cutbacks to the police, youth services and social services and the rise in violent crime.

"Whilst these elections focus on local issues it’s an opportunity for residents to send a clear message to May, Johnson and Gove that enough is enough."

While most wards will be contended by Labour, it is particularly targeting Waltham Abbey, Grange Hill and Debden Broadway.

Core to the party's local campaign across the district is housing.

Mrs Ayre added: "The very high cost of housing in this area, which is now fifteen times the average local pay, makes it virtually impossible for local people, who are first time buyers, to remain in the area.

"Labour Councillors on your district council would fight to build more council homes than the derisory 30-a-year planned by the present Conservative Council. These can be built on brown field sites.

"Our green spaces are under threat and the recently submitted Tory Local Plan threatens to build unaffordable homes on them. Epping Forest Labour Party is also concerned that the only green spaces that this Conservative led council has put forward for destruction are those in Debden.

"If elected, we would fight to keep these vital green spaces for local residents.

"It is also obvious that the Tory led council is cutting back on repairs to local roads. The number and depth of holes in the road in Epping Forest district makes it difficult to avoid them when driving.

"It is time for a change and Epping Forest Labour Party is determined to campaign to gain district council seats in order to bring about this change for the many not the few."