BURY is set to go to the polls as the UK gears up for a General Election on December 12. BRAD MARSHALL takes a look at candidates so far declared to be running in the borough’s two constituencies.

VOTERS will return to the ballot box in just a few weeks’ time for a General Election and 13 Parliamentary candidates have already announced their intentions to run in the Bury North and South constituencies.

In the run up to December 12 the prospective MPs will be hard on the campaign trail, pushing their platforms as they canvass on the doorstep.

Delivering Brexit is likely to be the most dominant issue affecting many voters at this year’s election.

Bury voted 54 per cent vs 46 per cent in favour of leaving the EU at the referendum in 2016 and prospective candidates’ position on the matter will be vital at the ballot box.

The future of the NHS, tackling crime and increasing policing levels, and investment in schools and education are also likely to be top of voters’ agendas.

While candidates and their parties’ positions on the environment and climate change are also increasingly coming to the fore in swaying voters.

Further, more Bury-centric topics could be significant talking points on the doorstep, such as priorities concerning securing the future of Bury FC.

And issues surrounding alleged anti-Semitism within the Labour Party may also have a bearing, particularly in the more heavily Jewish populated areas of Bury South.

Bury North

Bury North has historically been a marginal seat, swinging from both Conservative and Labour control.

It is also considered a “bellwether seat” typically electing a candidate from the party which goes on to win the General Election ­— although this is not always the case, as at present.

The constituency comprises the the towns of Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington as well as stretching into the West Pennines.

Bury is typically favourable to Labour and Tottington to the Conservatives. Ramsbottom, however, has been a traditional Tory stronghold but in recent years has drifted towards Labour, with the town’s council ward seats going red at the last two local elections.

The lastest MP to sit in Bury North was Labour’s James Frith.

Mr Frith was elected to the seat for the first time in 2017 after defeating the then sitting MP, David Nuttall, although he had previously contested Bury North unsuccessfully in 2015.

Prior to his election to Parliament, Mr Frith served as a councillor for Elton ward for three years.

He said: “In 2017 Bury put its faith in me and I promised to be a visible, accessible and effective MP and I have kept my word. Let’s keep going, for our best shot at saving Bury FC and football at Gigg Lane, to demand investment for our local public services, with all and for all our communities, and a credible vision to confront the climate crisis head on.”

Standing for the Conservatives in Bury North is James Daly.

Mr Daly is the leader of the Bury Conservative Group and has served as a councillor in North Manor Ward for eight years.

He is also a partner in a business in Bury and chair of governors at Hoyle Nursery School.

Mr Daly outlined his main priorities at the election as: stopping the GMSF; investing in schools; building new homes; protecting the NHS; increasing community police patrols to reduce crime; and creating more jobs.

Standing for the Liberal Democrats in Bury North is Gareth Lloyd-Johnson.

Born and raised in Redvales, the 28-year-old is secretary of Hollins Community Centre.

He said: “We will invest the £50 billion of extra money generated by stopping Brexit to give schools and the NHS an immediate cash injection to reverse damaging Conservative cuts. We need to unite our communities after three divisive years and work together to build the strong communities that we need.”

Standing for The Brexit Party in Bury North will be Alan McCarthy.

A former Labour supporter of 40 years, Mr McCarthy defected to The Brexit Party citing Labour “abandoning its manifesto pledge to respect the result of the referendum”. He has been a Bury resident for 27 years and currently represents The Brexit Party on Rochdale Council.

He said: “The Brexit Party is now the only party that wants to leave the EU with a clean break and we need our MPs in Parliament to hold the present two party system to account and be able to influence desperately needed reform.”

Standing for The Green Party in Bury North is Charlie Allen.

A resident of the constituency for 15 years, Ms Allen works as a project manager at Manchester Metropolitan University, and previously taught adult numeracy in the community around Bury.

She said her priorities would be addressing the “climate emergency”’ introducing a Green New Deal; opposing development on greenbelt land and building energy efficient homes; upgrading transport infrastructure; and being an EU Remain party that believes that a “People’s Vote”.

Bury South

BURY South constituency has consistently voted Labour since 1997 and has typically been considered a safe seat.

However prior to this the constituency, which comprises Prestwich, Whitefield, Radcliffe and Unsworth, had been held by the Conservatives following its creation in 1983.

The latest MP in Bury South is independent Ivan Lewis who has held the seat since winning a landslide in 1997.

Formerly a member of the Labour Party, Mr Lewis has held various ministerial and shadow cabinet positions throughout his career.

However he was suspended from Labour in November 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment, and he resigned from the party in December 2018, citing concerns around anti-Semitism and Brexit.

He said his priorities will be securing Brexit and a future trading relationship with the EU; a new Radcliffe high school; Prestwich regeneration, a new Whitefield health centre, more frontline police; improved mental health services; affordable public transport; support for senior citizens; building homes and protecting green belt land; and investing in the NHS, care, education and policing.

Standing for the Labour Party in Bury South is Lucy Burke. Backed by several trade unions, Dr Burke is the local party secretary and a member of “soft left group” Open Labour.

She said her priorities will include reversing disability cuts and supporting young people, adding: “I will stand up for my community, protect our NHS and make sure everyone in Bury South is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Standing for the Conservatives in Bury South is Christian Wakeford.

Mr Wakeford has served on Lancashire County Council and Pendle Borough Council where he is the Conservative Group leader. He said his priorities include protecting green belt land; regenerating high streets, being tough on crime and increasing police numbers, ensuring all the constituency’s children can attend a “good school; a new Radcliffe high school; and delivering Brexit.

Standing for the Liberal Democrats in Bury South is Richard Kilpatrick.

Mr Kilpatrick is deputy leader of the Manchester Lib Dems and currently sits as a councillor in Manchester City Council for Didsbury West ward.

He said his priorities include tackling “Brexit chaos”, adding: “Stopping Brexit means that we can focus on tackling the big issues facing the UK right now. We can build a Britain where we can grow our economy, tackle the climate emergency, and address the crises in our NHS and schools.

Standing for The Women’s Equality Party in Bury South is Gemma Evans.

Ms Evans is a campaigner, motivational speaker and survivor of domestic abuse who says she is standing on an “anti-violence platform”.

She said: “I’m standing in Bury South because I want to make it clear that survivors will not be silenced. We demand better from our politicians and, if Parliament won’t hold them to account, we will hold them to account at the ballot box.”

Standing for The Green Party in Bury South is Glyn Heath. A Bury resident of 27 years, Mr Heath served as a councillor for Elton Ward between 1995 and 1999 and has been and environmental campaigner for over 40 years.

Mr Heath said his priorities include remaining in the EU and securing a second referendum; re-nationalising public transport; free and open education; and free social care.

Standing for The Brexit Party in Bury South is Andrea Livesey. Ms Livesey is a retired NHS manager who worked for the health service for 36 years. When she was announced as candidate in August, she said that three years on from the EU referendum “my constituency - like the country - has been let down by party tribal politics. People deserved better. People’s votes have to mean something in a democracy and be respected.”

Standing as an independent candidate in Bury South is Michael Boyle.

Mr Boyle describes himself as a "non-partisan candidate", who is not affiliated with any political party, and claims he has no alliance with any other members of parliament or candidate, nor endorsement or influence from a third party. 

The 32-year-old was raised in Hillock estate in Whitefield and now works in advertising.

He says his priorities for the constituency will include fighting for NHS frontline services, opposing education and budget cuts, supporting renewable energy and environmental infrastructure, leaving the EU, tackling crime and violence, opposing the GMSF, improving public transport, and campaign for "Martyn's Law" - to make it compulsory for venues to assess the risk of an attack, and put appropriate measures in place.