MELANIE Dudley has been announced as the Labour candidate for Dudley North.

Ms Dudley, who grew up in Kate's Hill, said she is 'Dudley born and bred' as she launches her campaign, dubbed 'Dudley4Dudley', to win the highly marginal seat.

The search for a new Labour candidate for the seat was sparked after sitting MP Ian Austin left the Labour Party in February.

The former Dudley Girls High School pupil has worked as a lecturer and in various roles in local government across the West Midlands, including as assistant chief executive at Sandwell Council.

Now, moving into frontline politics, Ms Dudley says her top priorities for Dudley North are tackling crime, ensuring schools and hospitals are properly funded and fighting child poverty.

She said: "People in Dudley are absolutely great. They haven’t always had the best deal.

"I had great opportunities in Dudley such as healthcare and I was educated here. I want everyone else to have those opportunities."

Dudley North voted 71.43% in favour of leaving the EU so is set to be a key target for both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party.

The mother-of-two said she backed Labour's Brexit plan to renegotiate a deal, with a focus on workers rights and job protections, before putting it back to the people in another vote.

She said: "People are fed up to their back teeth of Brexit. Let’s get a good deal that looks after workers rights, jobs and the environment."

Ms Dudley will be hoping to increase the Labour majority in Dudley North, which former MP Ian Austin won by only 22 votes in 2017.

The former Labour MP turned independent announced he would not be standing for re-election on December 12 and last week urged Labour voters in the area to back the Conservatives.

Ms Dudley said: "I generally don’t think that voting Conservative will help the people of Dudley North with their lives and problems."

She added: "My motivation throughout my 30 year career was always to help people to maximise their potential and to develop policies and services which would support local residents. I now want to focus that energy and experience for the benefit of the residents of Dudley North.

"I am very honoured to have been chosen as the person who will fight the Dudley North seat on behalf of the Labour Party. Dudley North people are good, hard working and resilient. However they deserve better.

"It's my mission to make sure life in Dudley does get better."

Melanie Dudley will battle it out against Marco Longhi for the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat candidate Ian Flynn and Rupert Lowe for the Brexit Party when voters take to the polls on December 12.