A veteran Liberal Democrat councillor is challenging elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill in the battle to be Watford’s parliamentary candidate.

Rabi Martins, who represents central Watford on the borough council, has applied for to be the party’s candidate for the General Election.

Applications for the role closed this week and both the mayor and Councillor Martins' names are on the long list.

That list will be whittled down to a shortlist of candidates who will go before association members in a hustings in the coming weeks.

This week Councillor Martins said he had thrown his hat into the ring as becoming an MP was a "long-held ambition" of his.

He said: "I tried for it before (in 2004) when Sal Brinton narrowly beat me and did not stand again (in 2010) as I did not think it was worth it. It is something I have a big desire to do - I would love to be the MP for Watford. Watford is my town. Watford needs a good MP and I think I could be it."

Councillor Martins was first elected to Watford Borough Council for Central in 1994 but lost his seat in 1998. He was re-elected to the council in 1999 and has served as a councillor ever since.

The retired business consultant has been unsuccessful at four previous General Elections, standing as a Liberal Democrat candidate in Hornchurch in 1997, in Luton South in 2001, in Regents Park and Kensington North in 2005 and in Luton North in 2010.

He also applied to be the Lib Dem candidate for Watford in 2004 but was beaten by Sal Brinton, who was the party’s candidate in 2005 and 2010.

His decision to make a bid for the candidacy this time will see him come into competition with elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill.

The mayor has refused to rule out standing in next year’s General Election despite running for and winning a fourth term at town hall in May and the Watford Observer understands she is on the long list for the Watford parliamentary candidate.

Councillor Martins said: "Dorothy Thornhill has been an excellent mayor. I think having an excellent MP and an excellent mayor would be an unbeatable dream team. That is what I believe genuinely and is what I will try and persuade the party members that is what is best for the town and for the party."