A GROUP of independently-minded York election candidates today urged voters to "dump the dinosaurs" - and vote Independent.

Les Marsh, spokesman for the Clifton-based Independent group, says that two decades of Labour council rule have left York ready for a change.

Mr Marsh said: "When I say this I mean no disrespect to individuals. But Labour has had it too good too long and the Liberals have had it too hard too long, which has made them a bit soft.

"There are too many dinosaurs. We are ready to breathe some new life into the council."

Mr Marsh, who has previously served as Sheriff of York, a city councillor and a county councillor, said the group's main strength was its strong local knowledge and community links.

His two fellow election hopefuls, John Cook and Steve Prophet, are both well known in the Clifton area.

Among the group's backers is chairman Neil Griffin, who owns Clifton Hardware and has chaired volunteer group the Friends of Clifton Green for more than ten years.

Mr Marsh, 76, said: "We know this area, we know the people and we know what matters to them. We are trying to avoid the word policy, that commits us down a certain course of action.

"We are open to listen and react to any problems that come up in our ward, and have heard a wide range of things so far.

"The proposed development at the old Pulleyn's garage, road humps, back lanes and blocked gullies - they are all important local issues and they have all been mentioned to us."

Mr Marsh recognises that Independents have not recently done well in York, blaming the cost of running an election campaign.

And although his group is up against solid Labour majorities in Clifton, Mr Marsh feels it has a chance of winning.

"We are getting a very good reaction on the doorstep. People are disillusioned with politics and politicians. If we can get our message across that we are about people rather than politics and get Independent-minded people out to vote, then we can win."

Other Independent candidates in York are Victor Paylor, at Skelton, Rawcliffe and Clifton Without, Gordon Campbell-Thomas, fighting Hull Road, and Osbaldwick candidate Gerald Grisdale.

Sitting Upper Poppleton Independent councillor Janet Hopton is also seeking re-election.

Updated: 11:04 Monday, April 14, 2003