Larger than life entrepreneur Frank Rothwell has thrown his flat cap into the ring at the local elections, pledging to ‘give Oldham business a voice’.

He is standing as an independent in Chadderton South where he will be up against Labour’s outspoken candidate and former cabinet member Arooj Shah, who lost her seat in 2016 to another independent contender, Aftab Hussain, in the St Mary's ward.

Other candidates will fight for places on the local authority in by-elections in two wards where seats have been left vacant by the deaths of two councillors – in the late Sue Dearden’s Chadderton Central ward and Brian Ames, who represented Hollinwood, but past away two weeks ago.

Mr Rothwell – renown for wearing a flat cap - has achieved notoriety as the oldest contestant on Bear Grylls’ reality TV show The Island.

He has also been featured on the BBC’s North West Tonight after putting a steam engine into his 50-year-old Land Rover.

Mr Rothwell lives in Oldham but has four businesses based in the ward where he is standing.

He said: “I’m standing because businesses don’t have vote. By the look of things, the Labour Party is going to continue to control the council.

“By voting for me people get a way for there to be checks and balances.

“In the past the councillors’ focus has been on their own parties’ views. I want the decisions for the town made in Oldham for the town, not for party head offices and Westminster.”

Mr Rothwell, aged 67, employs 45 people in his businesses – Manchester Cabins, Bunkabin, Another Level Car Parks and holding company Partculis Oldham. They have a combined turnover of more than £10m.

He has also been shortlisted in the Oldham Business Awards in the Business Person of the Year and Portcullis is in the running for Business of the Year between ££5m to £10m.

He said he had been thinking about standing as a candidate for the last 15 years, but that the “opportunity has never been there”.

“I’ve now got the time, the experience and notoriety, thanks to the Bear Grylls show,” said Mr Rothwell who has been married to wife Judith for 47 years. “I knew I was doing all right when 20 young women wanted selfies with me, and I’m not far off 68 years old.”

Meanwhile, Ms Shah, who works in Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon's office, described her opponent Mr Rothwell as "a man of dignity".

She said: "I think this time, there will be a different dynamic than in 2016 in St Mary's, where I believe a lot of misogyny influenced the outcome.

"I am hoping Chadderton South will be a breath of fresh air in that respect."

There a total of 90 contenders across the town’s 20 wards with one seat being contested in each area.

The by-elections in Chadderton Central and Hollinwood include a total of 22 candidates respectively from the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, 16 from the Green party and seven independent candidates and one from The Liberal Party.