SWINDON is an important battleground which Labour is prepared to roll its sleeves up for, says shadow secretary Liam Byrne.

Mr Byrne, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, visited the town yesterday to campaign with Labour candidates and activists ahead of the local elections.

He joined Steve Wakefield and other Labour members in Toothill village centre for a leafleting session, before going campaigning in the area with activists.

Speaking on the campaign trail he said: “We want to do well in Swindon and think it is an important area.

“We used to have two very good MPs here before the last general election and we want to reach out to the people in Swindon – the only way to do that is getting out here and rolling our sleeves up.

“It is really helping to get our message across Swindon. There is a high level of unemployment in the town which is putting a strain on benefits and leading to public sector cuts in the police and home care for example.”

Toothill post office is a major talking point in the ward after it was announced it was due to shut next month for a “temporary” period.

“People rely on a local post office for vital services and they are the hub of the community as well as somewhere to draw your pension or post letters,” Mr Byrne said.

“The least local residents can expect from the council is to sit down with Tesco and try to come to some sort of arrangement that will benefit the whole community.”

Former Conservative councillor and mayor, Steve Wakefield, will be standing for Labour in Toothill on May 5, and Mr Byrne said he was pleased to support someone who he believes puts the community first.

“The Labour party is a party that is looking to grow and we’ve got to gain voters and with people like Steve, who is someone with his feet on the ground, I am confident of this.”

“We want to have community activisits representing our party.”