"Levelling Up" is not working for Bolton, the Labour Party's Sir Keir Starmer said, as he started the party's local election campaign for 2024.

The leader of the opposition spoke to The Bolton News from the Black Country on March 28 a matter of weeks before the vote on May 2.

At the start of the party's local election campaign in the West Midlands, he took aim at "Levelling Up", the policy put in place by the government to address inequalities between areas in the UK.

Sir Keir said the policy is good in principle but not in practice, although the borough is a beneficiary of funding for bids like the library, the market, The Institute of Medical Sciences and The Wellsprings.

The Bolton News: The launch of the Labour Party's local election campaign

Sir Keir told The Bolton News: "In Bolton people have a lot of ambition for their place and a lot of pride in their place. They do not have a government to match this ambition.

"These local elections are the first part of a two-pronged attack this year to make sure things are getting better and going forward rather than the drift we have at the moment.

"If you look at the gap in earnings between the North West and London the gap in earnings is more than it was before so there is no way people feel they've got a lot out of the government at all. 

"Only 10 per cent of Levelling Up funds have been released and this has been because to make sure we level up we've got to do the hard yards and we're not doing the hard yards at the moment."

ALSO READ: Keir Starmer addresses rumours of tension with Andy Burnham.

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

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

Bolton Council is controlled by the Labour Party as of last year but with 28 seats it is three seats short of a majority. On May 2 a third of seats in the council chamber are up for grabs as is the mayoralty of Greater Manchester.

Sir Keir said the party learnt the lesson of the election five years ago and the party is ready to be in power at a local level and a national level.

Sir Keir told The Bolton News: "We've changed the Labour Party and we get the frustration of those who want a better economy, who want a better high street. We want to make sure they do not have to go away to get on. 

"We've come up with a Local Growth Plan which will bring together communities because I believe it is those with skin in the game who make the best decisions about their place."

The Bolton News: The launch of the Labour Party's local election campaign

The deadline for registration to vote is on April 16, while the deadline to apply for a postal vote is on the following day.

The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is on April 24, as is the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC). A VAC is a Voter ID for those without a valid ID such as a licence or a passport.

Here are the dates of all of the deadlines:

April 16 (midnight) - Registration
April 17 (5pm) - Postal Vote
April 24 (5pm) - Proxy Vote / Voter Authority Certificate
May 2 - Local Elections / Mayoral Elections

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.