AN Iranian-born businessman who has lived in South Shields for almost 40 years says he plans to stand in the General Election in a bid to be MP for his adopted hometown.
Siamak Kaikavoosi is to challenge Labour MP David Miliband, and describes himself as a 'truly independent' candidate.
The 57-year-old father-of-three first arrived in South Shields back in 1971 when he attended the Marine and Technical College at Westoe.
While there, he met and married his wife, Carol, and the couple later moved to Iran, where they started a family and remained for three years.
They returned to South Shields in 1981 after the revolution in Iran.
After years working in retail and wholesale, Mr Kaikavoosi is now in the property business.
He says he has been saddened by what he sees as a decline in his adopted hometown's fortunes in recent years.
He said: "I remember the town when it was booming, but I am sorry over the state of it now. King Street used to be heaving, but no longer."
Describing himself as a "leftward leaning" independent, Mr Kaikavoosi, of Beach Road, South Shields, believes the major political parties "take their core voters for granted" and says he is surprised that South Shields has never had an MP who was born and raised there.
He said: "I believe the people of South Shields have been taken for granted over the years. It's astonishing that someone from the town has never represented it in Parliament.
"Mr Miliband was drafted in and I don't believe he has raised the profile of the town.
"I have lived in South Shields for 36 of the last 39 years and my allegiances are with the town and its people."
He added: "I am realistic about my chance. I'll probably not even make a dent to Labour's majority. But the people deserve a real choice."
Mr Kaikavoosi, who has also been dismayed at the recent rise of the BNP, is anxious to hear from like-minded "true independents".
He can be contacted on 456 2787 or 0779 9416438 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org