CLAIRE-LOUISE Leyland, Conservative candidate for West Tyrone, made her first visit to the constituency last week and described it as “absolutely beautiful”.
The Camden councillor arrived in Omagh last Thursday afternoon to officially hand in her nomination papers for next month’s Westminster election.
The 41-year-old South African, who was brought up living in Cape Town, was in her adopted constituency for a two day visit and will return again later this week.
Cllr Leyland was accompanied by her election agent Ryan Moses from Castlederg, and Rodger Lomas from Garvaghey, who is the chair of the Conservative’s West Tyrone Model Association.
Despite being new to the area, Cllr Leyland said she has the skills to represent West Tyrone at Westminster and tackle major local issues such as the economy, jobs, health and education.
“Our economy is growing and we have rising employment, but I think people need to have a representative who is prepared to lobby on their behalf and be able to get the best possible deal for West Tyrone,” she said.
“I will be focused on bringing investment into the area and will work really hard on behalf of my constituents as part of a strong team in Westminster.”
Cllr Lelyand said the issues affecting West Tyrone “are the same issues affecting people right across the country.”
She added, “People are interested in having a job and feeling secure. I also think coming into an area with a different perspective can be really helpful.
“It means that you really listen to what the people are saying and don’t just make assumptions about them, about their family and about their past.”
In a bizarre twist, Omagh man Shane O’Donnell is standing for MP for CISTA (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) party in Cllr Leyland’s home constituency of Holborn and St Pancras.
“We did a swap,” joked Cllr Leyland.
“I read that in your paper and thought it was very funny. But I will be still be doing a postal vote for Will Blair who is a very fine Conservative candidate.”
The Conservative candidate concluded by stating she is really looking forward to spending time in the main towns in the constituency and meeting the people of West Tyrone.