A FORMER Lord Mayor of York and a top union official are fighting to be the next Labour candidate for parliament in the city.

Cllr Julie Gunnell, who was last year’s Lord Mayor and who represents Micklegate on City of York Council, has confirmed she has applied for the nomination in York Central, and will be fighting against confirmed candidates Unite official Rachael Maskell and Labour Party worker Jo Coles.

The seat became vacant in early December when sitting MP Sir Hugh Bayley decided to stand down, and the national party has announced an all-women shortlist in the contest.

Cllr Gunnell said she had never wanted to be an MP in anywhere other than York.

She added: “I live in York, and I want to continue living here.

“I decided to stand for the nomination because of the work I have already done for Micklegate and, in my former cabinet role, for the city.

“In my year as Lord Mayor I worked with businesses and was heavily involved with the voluntary and community sectors. I now feel I am the right person to represent York at Westminster.”

Protecting the NHS, economic inclusion, and affordable housing for young people are all her priorities, Cllr Gunnell added.

She added: “We know young people are being priced out of York, and that’s because of low wages and the rental market.”

Labour party worker Jo Coles, who works for shadow chancellor Ed Balls in his Leeds constituency, and health union boss Rachael Maskell, have also confirmed they are standing. Ms Maskell, who moved to York last year, said she was passionate about economic equality and believed the living wage should be paid to all.

As a health union representative, she has been involved in NHS campaigning. She has previously stood for the party nomination in Erith and Thamesmead, in Greater London in 2009.

After the shortlist is drawn up, the final vote by Labour Party members in York will take place on Sunday, February 15.