'Ask anyone here about the traffic... it's chock-a-bloc all times of the day'

The Labour contender in the battleground seat of Bolton West believes it is essential to rebuild the trust of voters in a ‘broken’ political system. It’s 37-year-old Phil Brickell’s first run at becoming an MP. Bolton born and bred, he currently represents the Baguley area on Manchester city council.

He is confronting the task of overturning a near-9,000 majority to unseat the sitting Conservative MP Chris Green in a seat which has traditionally been won by whichever party forms the new government. Coun Brickell's day job is working in NatWest’s financial services.

He was privately educated at Bolton School, but the son of a former paramedic is keen to emphasise that it was a subsidised place. He later obtained a law degree from the highly-rated Durham University and spent a year on an exchange placement at the University of Hanover in Germany.

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Coun Brickell has been involved in Labour Party for a decade and it's through this activism that he met his now wife. “I was motivated to stand because of a sense that places like Horwich, Westhoughton and Bolton have been left behind by a government which is more focused on pleasing its core outside of the north west,” he said.

“People who live in these towns across the constituency don’t have the opportunities they deserve to get on in life. When I talk to people on the doorstep they tell me they are really angry with politics and politicians, because they have had lots of pithy three or four-word slogans promised to them and they haven’t been delivered upon.

“When I tell people face-to-face that I am honest about dealing with things that are wrong. they are really grateful.” He said the main issues that are arising from talking to voters are the cost of living crisis, mortgages and rents going up and people struggling to access local health services, especially the 8am scramble for GPs’ appointments in primary care.

Coun Brickell added: “But also if they go into the Royal Bolton Hospital, which is where I had my first job [as a student], they are waiting in A&E for hours on end, they don’t get seen. There are people on trolleys in corridors and also a lack of integration with social care.”

He said funding for the NHS needs to be ‘fixed’ but that it’s also got to be reformed. “It’s not just things like looking at alcohol consumption, or energy drinks being sold to under 16s which a Labour government would ban, but also promoting healthier lifestyles,” he said.

“We need to use the power of technology, like MRI or CT scans, to nip in the bud those more complex health problems before they present themselves at a later stage. But we also need to integrate social care with NHS with a national care service which will create a reliable and affordable care system from cradle to grave.”

Meanwhile, Coun Brickell pointed to real issues over the transport infrastructure in the Bolton satellite town of Horwich. “Ask anyone in the town about the traffic on Chorley New Road,” he said. “It is often chock-a-bloc with traffic, not just at rush hour but at all times of the day.

“People are really struggling to get to and from work. I think we need to look a fresh at the infrastructure. The town here has grown a lot over the last few years, but the infrastructure to go with it hasn’t. It’s not just public transport, it’s also about roads.”