MULTI-millionaire businessman Kevin Horkin will lead the Conservatives in the fight to win power in Hyndburn in May.

The former mayor of Clitheroe, who owns nine opticians and country-wear stores across the north west, was chosen by party members after a secret vote at Oswaldtwistle’s Conservative Club on Saturday morning.


Veteran Tory councillor and former Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe has voiced his interest in running Mr Horkin’s campaign to oust Labour’s Graham Jones at the general election in four months’ time, although no decision has yet been made.

Mr Horkin, 52, who is currently a councillor on both Clitheroe Town Council and Ribble Valley Borough Council, said: “I’m delighted that trust has been put in me by the Hyndburn Conservative Association to fight for the Parliamentary seat for the Conservatives.

“I’m not a pop-up politician, I have been actively involved in politics going right back to my early 20s.

“Hyndburn is where I was born and brought up, and we look forward to the election campaign.”

Born in Accrington, and schooled at St Oswald’s and later the Holy Family Roman Catholic College, Mr Horkin’s opened his own stall in the town at the age of 17.

Two years later, he set up Spex Opticians, including a store in Church Street, Accrington, and later went on to take over the established clothing store Ken Varey’s Town and Country Wear.

In previous years, Mr Horkin has reduced the number of stores he owns from 20 to nine, a move he made because he ‘enjoys local government’, he said.

Graham Jones, who led Hyndburn Council before winning in 2010’s general election with 41 per cent of the vote, said: “The government has taken the country backwards. Economically, people are £1,600 on average worse off every year, and families £2,000 worse off.

“They have failed to reduce to reduce the deficit and our credit rating has been downgraded.

“All the yardsticks that the government set themselves when they came into power they have failed on.

“If people vote Conservatives what they will get is a race to the bottom. It will be less for the north and more for the south.”

Saturday’s announcement means only Ukip and the Liberal Democrats have yet to reveal a candidate for the elections, which will take place on May 7.

UKIP Hyndburn’s chair, Cllr Paul Thompson, said: “There has been a bit of a delay. It will be next month.

“It’s common knowledge that our process for selection is very strict, and if you fail any part of it you have to resit it.

“The person we want we need to resit, but we will be represented, don’t worry about that one.”

A spokesman for the Lib Dems said: “We will be announcing our candidate shortly.”

Kerry Gormley, the manager of the ONE Planet Shop, in Abbey Street, Accrington, will again stand as the Green Party’s candidate, it was announced last week.

She had previously stood in 2010, receiving fewer votes than BNP, UKIP, and the Christian People’s Party, as well as the big three parties.