COMMUNITY champions from across the Black Country are set to take on the political elite as they prepare to launch a new ultra-local party.

The Black Country Party is aiming to ‘take national politics out of local councils’ by focusing on issues which are important to the people of the region “rather than them squabbling over what the prime minister is doing”.

It is the brainchild of a small group of people, including Garry ‘Black Country Gaz’ Sawers – originator of the Black Country Festival – and former Halesowen councillor and town carnival organiser Stuart Henley, who want to give the voters of the region “something different”.

Mr Henley, who stepped down from UKIP after being ousted in the local elections in May, said: “The feedback has been great. We thought it might be well received but it’s gone over and above our expectations.

“It goes to show that this is something the Black Country requires and it is something the people want.”

He said the new party – which is in the process of being formally verified – will target the 70 per cent of the electorate who did not vote in May.

“Our main aim is to reach the people who don’t vote, or have never voted,” he said. “As well as those who are disillusioned with the major parties and their political squabbling.

“We’re not a political party as such, more of a community group of independent councillors who want to work together to bring change to their areas.”

Mr Sawers added: “What has been lacking in this area for far too long is a party which represents the people.

“I know all the councillors in Dudley well, and they do work hard and they are trying, but they always get stuck because they are governed by their party.

“This sometimes makes them look preoccupied with national politics - but this is wrong, and not how it should work on a local level.

“People in the Black Country care about local issues and want to see councillors doing something about them, rather than them squabbling over what the prime minister is doing.”

Organisers have been quick to assert the Black Country Party is not ‘UKIP under a different banner’, and are encouraging people from all political backgrounds to join the new group, with former UKIP, Labour and Conservative members already signed up.

Mr Sawers said: “We are people from all parties, and even people – like myself – who have no affinity to any party.

“In the past I have supported who I think would be the best person for the job.

“And that is what this will be about. The best person for the job without party politics getting in the way.”

Hoping to officially launch in the coming weeks, Mr Henley is confident there will be a Black Country Party candidate in every Dudley ward in the 2019 local elections: “We will definitely have a candidate in every Dudley borough ward, and there are many people interested in standing in Sandwell – especially the Oldbury, Rowley, Blackheath and Tipton areas.

“I have also been contacted by people in Wolverhampton and Walsall who are interested, so it’s all very positive at the moment.”

For more information, or to register interest in joining the party, email or call/text 07967142367.