A former Bury MP says he has “unfinished business” in the borough as he sets out his priorities for the area with a general election set to take place this year.

James Frith, who served as MP for Bury North between 2017 and 2019, is seeking to take back his old seat after losing out to Conservative James Daly at the last general election by just 105 votes after a recount.

Tackling waiting times for hospital and GP appointments, and easing the increasing cost of living as well as improving economic prospects and transport are problems that the Labour candidate wants to help find solutions to.

Mr Frith represented Elton ward as a councillor between 2011 and 2015 before running for parliament in the 2017 general election.

He now aims to be “the change that Bury North can trust".

Bury Times: James Frith at the Bury Council elections in 2022James Frith at the Bury Council elections in 2022

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He said: “I think the town needs an MP who unites and champions the people in it.

"My grandfather was born in Bury and my great grandfather was the vicar in Bury, so my ties feel deep and real.

“There is a degree of unfinished business, I have a sense that people are hard up, and fed up, but they shouldn’t give up on politics.”

Mr Frith says that difficulty securing GP appointments and increasing difficulty to make ends meet are two of the biggest issues facing constituents in Bury North.

He said: “The greatest anxieties that I’ve experiences from speaking to people is GP appointments and the cost of living, what we’ve seen geographically from the top of the constituency in Ramsbottom to the bottom is that everyone is feeling the pinch.

“Everybody has real anxiety over the cost of living, we have a government that says things are getting better, and they’re not getting better.”

Mr Frith has named reform of the health service as one of his top priorities, accompanying Sir Keir Starmer on a trip to Bury College recently, during which the Labour leader set out his plans to reform NHS dentistry.

Bury Times: James Frith and Labour Leader Keir Starmer at Bury CollegeJames Frith and Labour Leader Keir Starmer at Bury College (Image: Newsquest)

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He added: “A friend of mine waited 28 hours in Fairfield A&E and that’s because of a failure to address primary care shortages with enough GPs, that’s because of the failure to recruit and retain enough NHS staff, but also a failure at a national level to have a plan for our NHS.”

Another of the Labour candidate’s top priorities for the constituency is growing and improving its economy, especially after a spate of closures in Ramsbottom which has seen a number of business shut up shop.

He also believes improving public transport is a key means strengthening the local economy.

He said: “I would welcome any efforts to extend the tram line or indeed improve the bus links to Ramsbottom.

“We could also look at flipping the historic model of living in Ramsbottom and commuting to work in Manchester. We should be saying as Ramsbottom we should be an attractive prospect for young people who live in Manchester to come out and work in Ramsbottom.

“You should be investing to grow an economy, to create new opportunities and new industries and good transport links will make the difference as to whether you can get promoted and take the promotion.”

Outside of politics, Mr Frith is also a passionate musician and once played at Glastonbury Festival with his old band Finka in 2003.

As an advocate for the arts, he also hopes to promote the town’s already thriving music scene, including Head for Hills and Glaston-bury.

He said: “I would love the idea of being an attractive prospect for upcoming or established bands and artists to Bury.

“I’m keen to support the likes of Glaston-Bury which is a remarkable success on a shoestring budget and deserves a lot more support and funding to help it grow.”