MEDIA officer for Wyre Forest Labour, Stephen Brown, has resigned from his post over the party's selection of a Redditch councillor to stand for the district in the upcoming general election.

West Midlands Labour has confirmed Worcestershire County Councillor Robin Lunn, who lives in Inkberrow, near Redditch, as its candidate to run against Conservative Mark Garnier on December 12.

Mr Lunn is the current leader of the Labour Group on Worcestershire County Council and has been a Labour councillor for 10 years.

But the decision has prompted one Labour voter to launch a petition calling for a "local candidate who understands the problems" of Wyre Forest's residents.

Stourport's Kevin Ashton, who set up the petition, said: "The regional office has decided to parachute in an outsider for the general election.

"This candidate has been imposed upon us and it seems that no one was consulted. It seems like West Midlands Labour has surrendered the Wyre Forest seat."

Wyre Forest Labour's Stephen Brown, who put his name forward for party candidate, has since stepped down as media officer in response to the decision.

Mr Brown told The Shuttle: "Personally, I am devastated not to be selected after spending four years working very hard with local people, the community, campaigners on different issues, and community groups in the constituency.

"There was no proper selection process under the party rules - not for me or any other local candidate, and that is a fact.

"If local people are taking it upon themselves to raise awareness about their desire for something more than what they perceive as a paper candidate, that’s a matter for them.

"I’ve had lots of local people contact me one way or another to express their outrage. All say they feel that the regional Labour has let them down.

"It’s a very sad state of affairs in my view and it seems the petition reflects that.

"Wyre Forest is a winnable seat for Labour in my view. That’s what I was working towards. It needs a strong Labour voice in Westminster. I hope we get it - whoever it is."

West Midlands Labour said the selection process had to be "accelerated" because of the snap election, but said Wyre Forest's situation was "not unusual".

A Labour source said: "In some places where the Tory majority is very small, we put candidates in place sooner. That is the preferred process.

"It would be unusual to have candidates in place that far ahead in somewhere like Wyre Forest, but of course we would have liked to start that process earlier if we could.

"It is certainly not the case that we are not competitive. You only need to look at the 2017 general election - we were picking up seats all over country in places as unexpected as Canterbury.

"We have a great local candidate who is an experienced councillor on the county council and will be fighting for real change."

Speaking to The Shuttle, selected candidate Mr Lunn said: "I work in Kidderminster's New Road as a financial planner and have done for the last six years.

"My first experience of Wyre Forest was 30 years ago when my parents had a static caravan on the Lickhill site in Stourport.

"I also know the area well as the leader of the Labour group on Worcestershire County Council."

Asked his priorities going into the election, Mr Lunn said: "I am one for growing the economy, providing good quality jobs, and supporting the Green New Deal to make houses more energy efficient. The NHS also remains vitally important, as does the national education service."

Mr Lunn said he was aware of the petition and would be responding to Mr Ashton "in a friendly way".

He added: "I am confident that some people are not aware of my strong connections to Wyre Forest and I'm happy to inform them of the facts."