A CHARITY stalwart has announced his intention to stand for MP for Hartlepool in this year’s General Election.
Well-known town taxi driver Stephen Picton, who has raised more than £50,000 for good causes, will challenge Labour’s Iain Wright as an Independent candidate when the town goes to the polls in May.
Stephen, 43, says he will campaign on improving services for Hartlepool including the reinstatement of the town’s hospital.
The dad-of-four said: “The fight for the hospital is what I’m campaigning for first and foremost.
“The voice we have got is not big enough to do what we need.
“I am aiming for nothing less than full reinstatement.
“I believe we can get our hospital back. Other towns have done it and we need to fight and so the same.”
Since Stephen announced his intention to stand on social media over 800 people have liked his Facebook page.
He said: “Since I put it on the Facebook page went into overdrive.
“The support I’ve been shown has been fantastic.
Stephen, married to Sandy, is well-known for his sense of fun by dressing up as comedy characters on stage for charity.
But he says he is being deadly serious about wanting to become MP.
“Everybody knows me as Taffy the taxi driver,” said Stephen.
“I’ve done my charity shows on stage as Chubby Brown, Peter Kay and Little Britain.
“But now it’s the serious side of me that needs to be shown.
“I did have a bit of hesitation about doing it because it is a big thing to take on.
“But I spoke to my wife and she said I’m the right person to do it.”
Stephen, who lives in the Oxford Road area of town, says he offers a real alternative to all the political parties.
He added: “I’m standing as an independent so the bigger people at the top of politics can’t tell you what to do.
“The only people who need to tell me or ask me to do something is the people of Hartlepool.
“It’s their voice I’m interested in.”