Two Labour Party candidates started the countdown to an election by sitting down with Sir Keir Starmer as they bid to turn the borough red in 2024.

The Labour Party leader was in the area for his first so-called Mission Tour which aims to show how his five missions are to the benefit of the country.

These five missions, including issues like the NHS and policing, were the subject of a roundtable attended by business leaders and community leaders.

Also in attendance were Phil Brickell, who is set to take on Conservative MP Chris Green for Bolton West, and Kirith Entwistle, who is set to take on Conservative MP Mark Logan for Bolton North.

ALSO READ: Keir Starmer responds to Bolton and Bury local elections.

Sir Keir said: "Being in the North West  to meet key business leaders and community leaders, it is clear Phil Brickell and Kirith Entwistle are preparing to hit the ground running on behalf of working people. I am grateful to Phil and Kirith for bringing together some of the key leaders in the community for me to meet and to hear first-hand why Bolton needs change.

"2024 is a momentous year for the country. The power of the vote is in the hands of the British people, and we will fight every day to earn it. And as the election comes closer, I am proud to say we have the strongest generation of candidates our party has seen. We have built a changed Labour Party ready to serve working people in Bolton and across the United Kingdom."

The Bolton News: Sir Keir Starmer and Kirith Entwistle

The selections of Mr Brickell and Ms Entwistle caused controversy last year amid claims Labour HQ  promoted the choices of the central party instead of the local party.

A Labour Party spokesperson said the shortlists were administered "in accordance with procedures set by the National Executive Committee".

The polls suggest both of them are in with a chance in their respective seats with Mr Brickell needing to overcome a majority of around 8,800 and Ms Entwistle needing to overcome a majority of around 400 – one of the lowest majorities in the UK.

ALSO READ: Keir Starmer reassures residents over future of Green Belt.

Mr Brickell said: "It was a pleasure to welcome Keir Starmer to the North West as he embarks on his first Mission Tour of the country. 

"I was able to highlight peoples' concerns about the cost-of-living and difficulty accessing NHS services."

Ms Entwistle said: "Keir Starmer and I discussed the boost to infrastructure needed in order to build a better Bolton, as well as the damage 14 years of a Conservative Government has done to our region.

"Under Keir Starmer's leadership, we now have a changed Labour Party ready to face the electorate. Bolton is ready for an election, and is ready for a Labour Government."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.