ONE OF Darwen’s most high-profile politicians has thrown his hat into the ring in the battle to become the town’s next MP.

Tony Melia, the leader of the For Darwen Party, has announced he will be standing for the ‘Impact Party’ - which has promised a two-year ban on immigrants and claims the NHS and schools are being 'crippled by floods of immigrants'.

On the party’s website its leader describes immigrants 'roaming the streets'.

Coun Melia, the deputy leader of Blackburn with Darwen council, said he stood by the party’s policies.

He said: “It’s pretty much what people are saying across the country.”

His intervention will complicate what is already set to be a hotly-contested battle for the Rossendale and Darwen seat, with Labour MP Janet Anderson defending a majority of 3,752.

The Impact Party was registered as a political party in January. Its leader is Harry Takhar, a Birmingham businessman and former Conservative Party activist.

It promises a series of refendums on local and national issues - “to create a truly democratic system”, and says immigration is “not a bad thing”.

In the video, Mr Takhar said: “The British people are angry, and they have the right to be angry when they see these asylum-seekers coming here.” He claimed asylum-seekers often arrived in Britain alone before having “eight or nine children, all funded by the taxpayer”.

Coun Melia, who is the deputy leader of Blackburn with Darwen council, stood in 2005 for parliament in Blackburn for the Liberal Democrats, finishing third behind Labour and the Tories.

He said: “The idea is to give independent parties around the country a voice.”

He said he would be paying his own expenses.

Darwen Labour town councillor Dave Smith, who runs Mrs Anderson’s office on Bolton Road, said: “He stood for the Liberal Democrats, then for For Darwen, now for another party. He seems to be all over the place.”

Tory candidate Jake Berry said Coun Melia would have 'minimal impact', claiming the main battle would be between Labour and the Conservatives.