IN the second of our series of special reports looking at all the candidates standing for election across Bolton, Local Democracy Reporter JOSEPH TIMAN finds out more about those vying for your vote in Bolton South East...

PARTY polling seen by The Bolton News shows Labour out on top in Bolton South East – but below 50 per cent.

The combined vote for the Conservatives and the Brexit Party could total more than Labour’s total.

If the samples are reflective of the final result, it would be the first time that second and third place parties get a higher combined vote than Labour in 36 years.

We’ve asked every candidate standing across Bolton borough for a statement outlining why you should vote for them.

Today, in the second part of a series of special reports, we are looking at the candidates standing in Bolton South East, which has been held by Labour since the constituency was created in 1983.

Bolton South East had the highest Brexit vote in the borough at the 2016 referendum with 63 per cent of the constituency voting to leave the European Union.

Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, who campaigned to remain, has been the MP here since 2010 and she has enjoyed a comfortable majority which has increased at every election.

In 2017, she won by a whopping 13,126 votes which means there would have to be an electoral swing of nearly 20 per cent for Ms Qureshi to lose.

Despite this, Bolton South East has been highlighted as a “high risk” area because of the significant proportion of Leave voters in the constituency.

The Conservative candidate is Farnworth-born Johno Lee, a councillor at Newark and Sherwood District Council in Nottinghamshire, who ran the local Leave campaign in 2016.

Labour could also face a threat from the Brexit Party this year which has chosen Kearsley councillor Mark Cunningham to stand.

UKIP, who got 2,779 votes at the last election, will not have any candidates in Bolton this time around.

The Brexit Party can expect to gain most of these voters and will be banking on Ms Qureshi’s stance on Brexit for Labour votes too.

Cllr Cunningham, who left UKIP earlier this year, is the last remaining councillor in Farnworth or Kearsley who is not a member of the new hyper-local party Farnworth and Kearsley First.

The independent group have taken five seats from Labour in the two towns since the last general election.

Labour have also lost seats in Hulton ward where all three councillors are now Tories. Whether these voters who left Labour locally will also vote differently in a general election remains to be seen.

The Lib Dem candidate will be Kevin Walsh who stood in Harper Green ward at the local elections in May. The Green Party candidate will be David Figgins who stood in Great Lever.

Yasmin Qureshi, Labour Party

The Bolton News:

YASMIN Qureshi has been MP for Bolton South East since 2010 and is the shadow justice minister.

She said: “I have focused on the Labour Party’s goal on transforming the country for the many, not the few. The political climate has left people feeling disillusioned and apathetic, but I strongly believe that the solution to this is in the policies that seek investment in public services, decent homes and stable jobs. That’s why I’m standing again to be the voice for thousands of people in the area who have been affected by years of austerity.

“The Conservative government’s cuts since 2010 have reduced police numbers by 21,000. Residents tell me of their fear of growing crime but the Tory promise of 20,000 new police officers does not even begin to cover the damage they have done. Daily, I see the depressing impact of over-crowded and delayed trains, the long waiting times at A&E and how difficult it can be to get an appointment with a GP.

“I have spent the last nine years dealing with over 10,000 constituent concerns and campaigning to deliver the change that Bolton urgently needs – for more police on our streets, for better funded schools and colleges, so our children aren’t paying the price for Tory chaos, and for a properly-funded NHS to deliver the quality of care we all deserve.

“Under the Tory government, Bolton Council has lost approximately £1bn in spending power and The Institute for Fiscal Research found that local authorities have seen an average cut of 79 per cent in the past decade. The callous cuts to local government funding has directly impacted Adult and Children’s Services whilst demand has increased.

“Only a Labour government will deliver the radical programme of change we need, and I’m proud to lead that fight in our community.”

Johno Lee, Conservatives

The Bolton News: Johno LeeJohno Lee

JOHNO Lee, from Farnworth, is a former soldier who now lives in Nottinghamshire.

He lost a leg when his patrol drove over an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan 12 years ago.

Since then, he has taken part in a round-the-world yacht race and climbed Kilimanjaro.

He has been both a patron and ambassador for military charities and fought to become the first amputee Serviceman to return to the frontline, but ultimately withdrew and received a full medical discharge.

He currently serves as a councillor for the Balderton North and Coddington Ward in the Newark and Sherwood district of Nottinghamshire.

He said: “Allow me say what an honour it would be to represent the people of Bolton South East, the area where I grew up and that shaped me into the man I am today.

“When I joined the British Army as a private soldier it was to serve and defend this great nation.

“I wouldn’t change anything despite losing my leg in Afghanistan. I have opportunities I never could have dreamed of — one of them is standing for Parliament.

“I believe in Britain for the opportunities it provides, and that is why I believe in the Conservative Party’s ability to shape its future. I will help Boris Johnson get a workable majority so we can get Brexit done, and then concentrate on our NHS; better mental health services and fairer funding for schools.

“I’m fighting for better infrastructure and more investment in our towns, for frontline services — more police on our streets keeping people safe — and support for our Servicemen, women and veterans.

“I promise to stand up for honesty and decency — be the voice of Bolton South East whether here or the Commons; never more than a call or a surgery away.”

Mark Cunningham. Brexit Party

The Bolton News:

MARK Cunningham has lived in Bolton all his life and spent the last 30 years in the British Security Industry.

He said: “No Matter what anyone tells you, this election will be fought on leave or remain. There are many other important local issues NHS, schools, policing and social care that I want to work on for you but until we get Brexit sorted these won’t get the attention they deserve.

“If you want to make sure there are enough Leave MPs in Parliament to keep Boris to his promises and stop remain MPs regrouping to put us back in the EU, please put country before party and vote tactically to kick out remain MPs. In 2016, you voted to leave the EU by a massive 63 per cent but your Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi has ignored your wishes in Parliament campaigning repeatedly to remain, treating you with contempt.

“In reality most Conservative voters will not vote Labour and Labour voters will not vote Conservative but each may be prepared to vote for a Brexit Party candidate to ensure a true Leave Brexiteer is returned to Parliament.

“I am asking you to Vote for me if you normally vote: Conservative, to keep a Corbyn government out, plain and simple. The Conservatives will never win Bolton South East but if Conservatives lend me their votes I could unseat Labour and boost Boris’s majority in Parliament if he does the right thing. Labour or Liberal, but voted to leave the EU, as many in Bolton did, vote for me to elect a true Leave MP. Farnworth & Kearsley First, UKIP or any other party, voted leave and believe it is wrong to sell out our country that so many gave their lives for in two world wars, to a foreign power.”

Kevin Walsh, Liberal Democrats

The Bolton News:

KEVIN Walsh is a customer experience executive from Harper Green.

He said: “Brexit is the single most important issue in this election. Any form of Brexit, be it a Conservative one or Corbyn Labour led Brexit, will harm our economy, reducing the money available to spend on public services and push the poorest residents in Bolton South East further into poverty.

“I’m standing to give the people of Bolton South East a real choice instead of them having to choose between the pipe dream promises of a Labour or Tory led Brexit Britain. A majority Liberal Democrat government will revoke Article 50, putting an end to Brexit once and for all and ensuring a £50bn remain bonus we can use to invest in public services such as policing and the NHS.

“Make no mistake, Labour are not being honest about the impact their NHS plans will have on the residents of Bolton, with organisations such as Bolton Hospice being put at serious risk from a Corbyn-led Britain that would bring an end to the NHS funding received by this essential end-of-life service. The Conservatives are looking to deliver Brexit to ensure their “Big Pharma” friends in the USA can benefit from a trade deal that will drive up drug prices and increase their cash balance as. We need to stop the NHS being used as a political football and put 1p on income tax to ensure we can provide proper funding for health and social care.

“Our plan to scrap business rates will breathe new life into our high streets, allowing towns like Farnworth, Kearsley and Little Lever to thrive once more with small independent businesses taking centre stage without being burdened by business costs.”

“For residents of Bolton South East who want to fight poverty, protect the NHS and help our economy grow their only choice is to vote for me, Kevin Walsh, and the Liberal Democrats on December 12.”

David Figgins, Green Party

The Bolton News:

DAVID Figgins is an assistant manager at a sports centre.

He said: “If there was ever a time to vote Green, it’s now. We have the vast environmental emergency of climate change upon us and it’s time to act. We’re having extreme storms and flooding; the sea levels are rising year upon year and wildlife is dying.

“Voting for Green MPs will allow us to combat this grave threat by introducing the incredibly revolutionary Green New Deal. This would move us from a fossil fuel economy to an innovative, forward-looking economy that is geared towards protecting our environment and making our country a better, more habitable place to live; with cleaner air, better public transport infrastructure and creating thousands of new jobs in an ethical energy sector.

“I joined the Green Party four years ago for many reasons, including its viewpoint on social & domestic policy and its stance on tackling the increasing wealth inequality we face in the UK. One of the most innovative policies the Green Party advocates for is the Universal Basic Income.

“The Universal Basic Income would provide everyone with a set allowance, no matter what your circumstance. This would ensure that no one struggles in poverty and would incentivise work, rather than penalise it – working would not reduce your allowance. It would replace the existing benefits system but would guarantee that no one would get less than they already do.

“Due to the bureaucracy of the current system, it would cost less than our current system, whilst giving more back to the people. It would also stop people worrying about having their allowances taken away by cruel sanctions.

“Voting Green in 2019 has never been a clearer option. It’s the ethical choice, it’s the choice to say no to politics as usual. Vote Green in 2019 and vote for something different.”