Heywood & Middleton Constituency
Iain Gartside is looking to become the Conservative MP for Heywood in Middleton as he stands for the seat in the General Election.
Mr Gartside previously stood for the seat during the 2014 Heywood and Middleton by-election following the death of former MP Jim Dobbin.
Speaking to Rochdale Online, Mr Gartside said: “The Heywood and Middleton by-election was my first time standing in a parliamentary election.
"I have been a local councillor in Bury for over 11 years so it was a good experience for me. I got a lot of media coverage, got to appear on the politics show and got involved in leaders debates. I really enjoyed meeting the people of Heywood and Middleton and addressing local issues with them, whether it be something small like a pot hole in the road, or something bigger like the wind farms.”
Despite his loss at the by-election, Mr Gartside believes that this time around, people will vote with their "heads and not their hearts".
He said: “I think with it being a by-election, people used the opportunity to use their vote as a protest vote. I have spoken to many people on the doorstep who have said that because this election is a General Election that they will vote Conservative and that they used their vote last year for UKIP as a protest.”
If selected as the MP for Heywood and Middleton, Mr Gartside says he will be an MP for the people and will focus on issues that are affecting the people.
“Localism is in my DNA so if I was elected then I would see myself as a backbench MP who represents Heywood and Middleton as best as I possibly can. I would help with every issue and I would promise to be an MP that represents the people. I would challenge issues around finance for Heywood and Middleton in terms of the local government and challenge environmental issues and planning applications that people want me to challenge. Scout Moor windfarm is a local issue that people have come to me about and I want those behind it to know that people are against this and its expansion.
“Rochdale Council also seems to have this plan of selling off as much land as possible at the minute. Local residents have been getting together to stop the sale of land on Swift Road in Bamford and that is something I have been addressing with them. The land is a village green and is a local amenity to local people and residents are against that,” said Mr Gartside.
Mr Gartside has a background in finance and is the leader of the Conservative group on Bury Council.
When asked why people should vote for him to be the next MP for Heywood and Middleton, Mr Gartside wants people to think before they vote.
He said: “I think people should ask themselves this time around, do they want Ed Miliband in power and a Labour government which is going to put the economy in jeopardy? Unemployment in Heywood and Middleton has fallen by 2% and over 5,000 apprenticeships have been created in Heywood and Middleton under this Conservative government so people should ask if they really want to put that in jeopardy.”
Despite not getting the votes in October, Mr Gartside says he has not stopped campaigning and is receiving a positive reaction on the doorstep.
He added: “The reaction on the doorstep has been positive. I haven’t really stopped campaigning since October. Regardless of who people support whether it be Labour or Lib Dems or whoever it is, people are appreciative that I have knocked on the door. Many people have said it is a novelty that I have knocked on their door because they haven’t had anyone do it in 20-25 years, so I think that shows the disillusionment.”
Many people have described this upcoming general election as ‘unpredictable’ and Mr Gartside is no different.
“One minute we are up by four points in the polls and the next minute Labour are up by four points in the polls and UKIP are all over the place, so I do think this will be the most unpredictable election in our lifetime. At the end of the day though, all that matters is the result on 7 May and not what the opinion polls say,” added Mr Gartside.
For those who are unsure who to vote for or why they should vote for the Conservative party this time around, Mr Gartside is promising the people of Heywood and Middleton an MP for the people.
He said: “If people want a local MP who will listen to them and address their issues then I am the person to do that. If people want to see this country stay on track to a stable economy then they need to stay with this Conservative government and not elect Labour and Ed Miliband on 7 May.
“At the end of the day I am going to do my best and I think that is definitely what I am doing. I am working hard in all areas that matter. I am meeting local people and talking to them about their issues. I will work hard and focus on what has to be done because it is up to the people to decide who they want to represent them.”