Councillor Farooq Ahmed is the Rochdale First a parliamentary candidate in the General Election.
Having left the Labour party in June 2014, Councillor Ahmed formed his own party, Rochdale First, with his wife Shefali Farooq Ahmed, responding to “public demand”.
Speaking to Rochdale Online about his decision to stand, Councillor Ahmed said: “I decided to stand because of the demand I have had from people for me to do so. I was originally asked to stand in the Heywood and Middleton by-election but I decided to say no. I have a following of people who have spoken to me about it and asked me to do it and I think the time is right now.”
Councillor Ahmed was born in Rochdale and has lived in the town all of his life. He believes that this is something people will respond to.
“I was born and bred in Rochdale and I will be buried here. I think out of all of the candidates standing, apart from Andy Kelly, no one has any local knowledge and I think people are fed up of that. I know this town and I want to show it off as the good town that it is,” said Councillor Ahmed.
Councillor Ahmed has been a local councillor for a number of years and has experience of working at high levels of the council.
If elected as the MP for the town, he promises to turn things around and promote the positive side of Rochdale, instead of focusing on the bad.
He said: “When people asked me 20 years ago where I was from and I said Rochdale, they would say, ‘Oh Lisa Stansfield is from Rochdale’ but now when I say I’m from Rochdale, people bring up child grooming and that isn’t what I want. I want to show off the good things that this town has because we do have a lot of good going on and that is what we need to promote. I think we spend too much time focusing on the bad and it is time to start focusing on the good.”
Councillor Ahmed also wants to bring in more investors, develop the town centre further and consult with people on what they want.
He said: “I think the final nail in the coffin of the town centre’s decline was moving the cinema out. When we did that we stopped the families coming in to town and that is what I want to bring back.
"If we can bring in the big investors and redevelop the town centre the right way then our image will improve. We can’t bring people in with a negative image.
"I will also continue to consult with people. That is something I have always been about and that is what people always respond to.”
Councillor Ahmed added: “It is early days but I am confident to say that people are following me and backing me at this stage. It will be difficult, don’t get me wrong, but I think people are fed up of the mainstream parties. I have not been parachuted in from somewhere else, I am from Rochdale and I know this town and that is what people want representing them.”