INFLUENTIAL Independent councillors have teamed up to oust rival Tories in the snap general election.

Taxi driver Tino Callaghan and former Southend Council leader Ron Woodley will attempt to take Parliamentary seats away from two ruling Tories - James Duddridge and Sir David Amess.

They will both be standing as Southend Independent Alliance candidates and have promised to focus on the issues that really matter to residents in south Essex - including the proposed shake-up of A&E departments.

Mr Woodley, chairman of the Burges Estate Residents’ Association, said: “James Duddridge does not support the people in terms of what is important, for example the possible downgrading of Southend Hospital, which I am seriously against.

“It is about representing the people – I have done it in the past and I am still doing it, it would just simply be an extension of the role.

“I won’t claim travel expenses, overnight expenses or any at all, I don’t think it is right.”

James Duddridge, current Rochford and Southend East MP, said he has done his best for residents over the proposed The Mid and South Essex Success Regime changes. He said: “Over the last year I have had over 20 meetings with healthcare professionals about how to get the best care for people in Rochford and Southend. This means we need to bring together professionals across the region to provide better and faster care.

“Southend is likely to specialise in planned surgery. The A&E will remain for walk-in patients but serious ambulance cases will go to a regional centre that will have the state-of-the-art facilities and staff on standby.

“This election will be about a simple choice – do you want Theresa May as Prime Minister or Jeremy Corbyn. I have already started campaigning and am looking forward to reaching out to every part of the constituency of Rochford and Southend East.”

Mr Callaghan, who led a campaign against letting agent fees, will be running against Sir David for the Southend West seat.

He said: “Key issues for us will be homelessness, mental health care, the lack of policing and funding cuts in education.

“ I want to help people that can’t help themselves, I am not a career politician.”

Sir David said he is “looking forward to meeting residents” during his election campaign. He added: “The choice facing the country at this election will be about leadership.”