GREATER MANCHESTER has its first Police and Crime Commissioner although more than 88 per cent of Wiganers snubbed the election altogether.
Labour candidate Tony Lloyd was the clear winner with 51.23 per cent from Thursday’s poll while low turnouts – between 10 and 20 per cent – were recorded across the country.
Turnout throughout Wigan borough was a meagre 11.42 per cent with 28,010 voters in total, lower than the 13.9 per cent turnover for the whole of Greater Manchester. A further breakdown of the number of voters at each of Wigan’s polling station has not been made available prompting rumours of embarrassingly low voter figures.
Mr Lloyd, 62, stepped down as Manchester Central’s MP to stand in the election, beating rivals Matt Gallagher (Lib Dem), Steven Woolfe (UKIP), Roy Warren (Independent) and former Wigan mayor Michael Winstanley (Tory), who came second with 15.6 per cent of the vote.
Speaking to the Evening Post, Mr Lloyd, said: “I am obviously delighted with the result. I would like to say that I am aware that Wigan is one of Greater Manchester’s strong communities with their own identity and my commitment to the people of Wigan is going to be a strong one.
“I have been to the borough during my campaign talking to victims of crime and you will be seeing a lot more of me in the coming years.
“I want the people of Wigan to have a strong voice in the future of policing and I will be keen to work in partnership with local authorities, including the council, as well as central government who are ones making the cuts on our public services.”
The new commissioners, who in large areas like Greater Manchester will earn £100,000 a year, will control police budgets, set priorities and have the power to hire and fire Chief Constables.
Former Wigan first citizen, Mr Winstanley, was gracious in defeat. He said: “I think that on the whole, given the timing of the elections, I am reasonably pleased. Labour nearly had to go through a second round of counting and didn’t perform as well as they expected to.
“I received the second amount of votes in Wigan (4,266 to Labour’s 14,790) which proves that any real opposition to Labour in this borough, for any election, comes from the Conservative party.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped with my campaign, giving out my leaflets throughout the town.”
The PCC vote was slammed by the Electoral Reform Society who predicted a record low turnout of 18.5 per cent across the country.
Chief Executive, Katie Ghose, said: “This election has been a comedy of errors from start to finish. The Home Office has operated under the assumption that ‘if you build it they will come’.
“Democracy just doesn’t work that way. There have been avoidable errors at every step and those responsible should be held to account.”
It was confirmed that one polling station in Newport, South Wales, had no voters pass through it.
The government has come in for criticism for refusing to cover the cost of leafleting to give voters information about the new posts.