LIBERAL Democrats have selected Ben Nicholls as their candidate for the Romsey constituency in the General Election next year.

The seat, which stretches north as far as Longparish, was held by Lib Dem Sandra Gidley for a decade until 2010 when it was taken by Conservative Caroline Nokes.

Mr Nicholls, who is 26, moved to the area at the age of 12 and is employed as a senior manager in one of the country’s largest colleges.

He began his career in the civil service working on education and child protection issues.

“Romsey and Southampton North has been the area I know best and love most since I was a child,” says Ben. “It is a huge honour to be selected and I can’t wait to meet more people across the area over the coming months.”

Ben is especially keen to engage with younger voters. Ten years ago he founded a youth theatre charity, RicNic, which has its largest branch in Hampshire.

“Too many of the young people I meet feel let down by politics,”

he said. “It’s really important to me that I hear their views and I look forward to working with them.

“The success of our society depends on the huge amount they have to offer,” he says.

Well-known Romsey councillor Mark Cooper, said: “Ben is a breath of fresh air. He is open hearted and a good speaker and I’m confident that he can take up the reins of Romsey and Southampton North.”

Sandra Gidley, the former Lib- Dem MP for the area, said: “Ben Nicholls will be a force to be reckoned with.”