DUDLEY North’s UKIP candidate hopes to transfer his party’s local achievements to the national stage – he said as he launched his manifesto for June’s snap General Election.

West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge, who also represents Sedgley ward on Dudley Council, has laid out his policies in a bid to gain votes for the purple party next month.

He will be up against fellow Dudley councillor Les Jones, who has been officially selected to stand for the Tories, Labour’s incumbent MP Ian Austin, Andrew Nixon as the Green’s representative and chairman of local Lib Dem party Ben France.

At his campaign launch, Cllr Etheridge said he would be campaigning for greater controls on immigration and lower ‘sin taxes’ on alcohol and fuel.

He also aims to highlight some of UKIP’s achievements in the Dudley borough, including its efforts to help save Dudley Hippodrome, cut council tax rises and block moves to introduce fortnightly bin collections.

Cllr Etheridge said: “UKIP is a party that is distinctively different and doesn’t go down the same tired route as the others.

“If there is a way of changing things, whether that is considered old fashioned, right wing, left wing, it doesn’t matter to us. It could be radical, it could be common sense, but we’re not afraid to do it.

“We say what we’re going to do and we take the fight.

“I challenge all of our rivals to be as straight as we’re going to be in this election. We will take every question head on, we will take every debate head on, and we will put everything we’ve got to say right out there. I want them to do the same.

“I want them to back their party, their leaders, their convictions, because if they haven’t got the courage to do it then why should the people of Dudley?”

Despite UKIP taking a big hit across the country in last week’s local elections, Cllr Etheridge believes the race to the polls in Dudley North will not follow the same national pattern.

He said: “It wasn’t a great day by any means. Our opinion poll ratings aren’t as high as they were and we’ve had some bad results.

“But if you look at the Conservatives, four years ago they were almost at an historic low in the polls but they’ve come back and won in areas they probably weren’t expected to win in.

“I’m not going to lie and say we did well but different areas have different issues and I believe the Black Country, and Dudley in particular, is an area with its own character and personality.

“We won’t blindly follow the national flow, voters in Dudley aren’t sheep. They stand up for what they believe in.

“Even if UKIP polled nothing in the rest of the country, I believe the people of Dudley borough would still back us because they know we are honest, straight and always try to do the right thing.

“The time that they don’t [back the party] then it will be our fault and our responsibility. If I am standing on that stage on June 8 having got absolutely walloped, I won’t give up. I will come back all the harder.”