Former Liberal Democrat Councillor Andy Kelly has said that despite the result of the upcoming general election, he will still be in Rochdale on Friday 8 May.
Andy, who is standing as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Rochdale in the General Election has described himself as a “local lad standing for a local seat”.
Speaking to Rochdale Online, Andy said: “It’s an honour to stand for the seat and it is a privilege. To me, when asked to stand as an MP, there is no place other than Rochdale that I would want to do it. It’s an honour for me to have been chosen to stand by my party and my peers. I am just a local lad standing for a local seat and regardless of the result, come Friday 8 May, I will still be in Rochdale.”
Standing as a local councillor until last year, Andy announced in January 2014 that he would be standing for the MPs position.
He said: “To stand as an MP, I think the time has to be right for you and it has to be right for your family as well. Being an MP is a full time job and with me being self-employed, I can be a bit more flexible. Plus the kids are a bit older now so the time is right. It has to be right for you to do the job. If I had been asked five years ago then I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Following last year’s local election, the Liberal Democrats severely suffered with only one Liberal Democrat councillor left on Rochdale Council. Andy now thinks that the party returning to council will be a gradual build up.
He said: “Locally I think the Lib Dems will make a slow climb. Nationally I think we have suffered as part of the coalition government. Don’t forget this was the first time this has happened so no one knew what to expect. I think the smaller party will always get the blame and I think that is what has happened. I don’t think we did ourselves any favours locally either and I will be the first to acknowledge that but the Lib Dems have done some good. We introduced the tax bracket being raised to £10,000, we introduced the pupil premium which has introduced millions of pounds into schools and we have done work to increase pensions.
“In 2012 we did very well locally and we only missed on the MP seat narrowly. In the opinion polls it says that the Lib Dems are down to around 5% so to say we are going to sweep the polls and reach 70-80% is unrealistic. Anyone who says that they can predict this election is lying. I think Rochdale is a very different ball game now, especially with an independent candidate and a green party candidate standing.”
If elected as the MP for Rochdale, Andy is ready to help change the image of Rochdale and wants to help create a positive image that reflects the towns decent and hard working people.
He said: “If I were elected I would work full time as the MP. That would be my only job and I think that is crucial to being an MP. I will challenge the perception that people have about this town and show people that we are decent, hard working and honest people.
“I was recently at a comedy gig and I ended up on the front row and when I said that I was from Rochdale, the comedian said ‘you’re all perverts from Rochdale.’ Now what kind of message is that sending out? We won’t get investors into the town with that attitude. We need to stop the negative image of Rochdale and bring people into the town. If we can bring investors in then we can raise employment.
“Rochdale is a place of arts, heritage and culture as well and a lot of people who are musicians and artists leave Rochdale because there is nowhere for them to go. I have said this time and time again but we need a theatre. We are one of the biggest towns without a theatre. Once we have that we can give those creative people somewhere to go. Then that will bring in further investment because who goes to the theatre and doesn’t go for a pint? Rochdale Town Centre is dead before 10/11pm so you wouldn’t be competing with anyone else. That could then encourage other businesses to come into the town.
“It won’t be simple to clear the negative image but it is something that has to be done.”
Andy would also like to see further education courses offered in Rochdale to stop higher education students leaving the town and going elsewhere.
He added: “There was a time years and years ago that we would lose children at 16 years old to places like Oldham and Bury so they could go off and study at college but with the introduction of Rochdale Sixth Form College, that has changed dramatically and now we are seeing people queuing up to come to Rochdale which is great. I would like to develop that further and see if there was any way that we can introduce studying at degree level in Rochdale. You can do it in Oldham with the help of Huddersfield University and you can do it down the road in Bolton so why not Rochdale?”
With the election not too far away, Andy and his team have been out canvassing and are receiving a positive message.
He said: “I think the MP for this town should be the person who is going to represent this town properly. Generally the feedback I have been getting from people has been positive and not everyone is going to agree with you but people are usually appreciative that you have knocked on their door and introduced yourself. I’m well known in Milnrow because I have done it there before so that helps. I think I am as confident as the next person so we’ll see what happens.”