A CHIEF executive of a charity that fights poverty will stand to be the next MP in North East Hampshire.

Andrew Johnston will stand for the Green Party to take up the seat currently occupied by the Conservative James Arbuthnot.

Mr Arbuthnot announced his decision to step down as MP in 2011, having served the constituency since its inception in 1997.

Ranil Jayawardena, a Basingstoke borough councillor and former Robert May’s School pupil, will stand for the Conservatives, in a constituency seen as a safe seat for the party.

But Mr Johnston said: “I think it is just time to give the people in the local area a choice and they really do not have one at the moment.

“I think there’s a lot of concern about the cuts that have been made especially in public transport and the local bus service.

“I just believe passionately in the area and I think people deserve an alternative to the Conservative candidate.”

Mr Johnston went to school in Fleet, which is in the constituency, and still lives in the town.

He is the chief executive of the Action on Poverty charity, which gives practical help to poor and vulnerable people in countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.

The 52-year-old told The Gazette he is opposed to building new homes on greenfield sites, including the proposal to build a new town at Winchfield.

He also supports building more affordable housing, proposing 20mph speed limits around all schools and supports the United Kingdom’s inclusion in the European Union.

Mr Johnston has also pledged to answer or return any calls from people in the constituency who call him on 07957 193922.