A KILWINNING by-election candidate has set out his list of priorities as he aims to earn a seat at North Ayrshire Council on May 9.

Chris Lawler will be running for the Conservatives as he looks to maintain the seat formerly held by Tory colleague John Glover, who sadly passed away after an illness in February.

This will be the 60-year-old's - who flirted with two other political parties in the 1990s before ultimately opting for the Conservatives - first political campaign.

The Londoner came to Scotland in 2005, relocating from Dartford to Milngavie before moving to Kilwinning in 2012.

Now he is hoping people will set up small shops to help re-generate the struggling High Street.

He said: “My aunt, Pat Barham, served as a Lib Dem councillor with Mid-Devon Council from the mid nineties for a decade and had a transport brief. 

“She was offered a safe seat in parliament at one point but she turned it down as she said she was too old.

“Subconsciously, she gave me the bug to get into politics. My mum, Jennifer, is also a Lib Dem.

“I liked a lot about what the former Scottish Tory Leader Annabel Goldie was saying and the referendum was an issue. I didn’t want to break from the Union.

“I was more Tory than Liberal but didn’t vote for Margaret Thatcher and went for the Lib Dems.  I voted for Tony Blair when he first came in but quickly changed my mind. Then I started voting Tory after that.”

He is now relishing the challenge in Kilwinning and said: “It was never my intention to run but my agent, David Rocks, asked if I was interested in the seat and I said I lived here so I would like to stand.

“I met councillor Glover a couple of times and he fought for the people in the area.”

Chris hopes small businesses in the area can take off to help regenerate the area.

The Tory hopeful added: “I work in a small business, a scuba diving shop in Partick with a small staff, the problems we have are the likes of the minimum wage and trying to get people through the door and also the bills coming in.

“I also have a gardening business in Kilwinning for people who want things done.

“In Kilwinning Main Street, shops have closed and there is not even a bank.

“I would like to encourage people to take the plunge to set up a meaningful business, not just a vape shop, that all ages can go to.

“We could get a shop for people with a hobby, like leisure – say marine sport. 

“Possibly you could have a repair shop for gardening equipment. There are plenty of parking spaces."

The possibility of increased business in the area is something that Mr Lawler hopes can also assist in getting more people into work locally.

He continued: “Local jobs are going, as some people have gone back to Eastern Europe and people could have an opportunity to even take something on part-time. 

“There is a struggle to get chefs, maybe people could get jobs in that area. We have a college here, maybe we can train people up to be chefs.

“Some restaurants only open a few days a week, maybe they could open more if they got new staff even part-time people. 

“We could have a cafe society down the Main Street if it doesn’t rain so much.

“Kilwinning Sports Club is a great example of a local business and they are very successful. The chairman is very proactive.”

While the issue of road maintenance is also high on Mr Lawler's agenda.

He added: “We have to push to get potholes fixed and improve road maintenance. We also have to work to encourage doctors surgeries to see more people in person.”