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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Blur drummer stands as councillor
Dave Rowntree (centre) with fellow Blur members at the Brits in 1996
Blur were linked with New Labour before the 1997 election
Blur drummer Dave Rowntree is to run for a seat on Westminster Council in a by-election on 3 May.

Mr Rowntree, who is standing for Labour, admits he faces a tough fight to get onto the Tory-held council.

But he said he wanted to address the extreme deprivation in some parts of one of England's richest boroughs.

Blur frontman Damon Albarn was among musicians seen as endorsing New Labour before 1997 - but has since become an outspoken critic of the government.

He reportedly declined one invitation to 10 Downing Street with a note saying: "I am no longer a New Labour supporter. I am now a Communist. Enjoy the schmooze, comrade."

'Take direction'

But in an interview on the YouTube website, Mr Rowntree described himself as a "long-standing member of the Labour Party", who was chairman of his local branch.

The former computer engineer, who also owns an animation company, said nine Westminster wards were among the most deprived in England, adding: "I think somebody needs to do something about that."

London is among the few areas across England which will not have local authority elections on 3 May, but he is standing in a ward which covers one of central London's most exclusive shopping districts.

The ward returned three Conservative councillors last May with big majorities - each got more than 1,250 votes, their nearest competitor got 300.

Also standing in the by-election for the ward covering Marylebone High Street will be; Stuart Bonar for the Liberal Democrats, Colin Merton for the UK Independence Party and Ian Rowley for the Conservatives.

The Conservatives, who control the council with 48 out of 60 seats, are pledging low council tax, more recycling, more CCTV, more motorcycle and cycle parking, better schools and more affordable housing.

The Lib Dems say a vote for them is a chance to elect an independent voice to the council, "not just yet another Tory" and are promising more open and accessible advice surgeries.

UKIP say they want to return control to local politics and councils - and would support referendums on local issues like planning consent. They also want elected police chiefs.



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