Tories launch bid to cause election upsets

Conservative candidates Alex Williams and Adam Carney (right)
Conservative candidates Alex Williams and Adam Carney (right)

Theresa May’s strong and stable slogan has been echoed by two election hopefuls planning to cause upsets in Wigan’s Labour strongholds.

Coun Alex Williams and Adam Carney, both Greater Manchester residents but newcomers to the borough’s political scene, will contest the Wigan and Makerfield seats, respectively, for the Conservatives.

In a bid to attract the support of the majority of voters to have backed Brexit last year, both have promised residents they will get the best severance deal from the EU under the Tories’ leadership.

Meanwhile, Coun James Grundy, the deputy leader of the council's Conservative opposition, has announced his bid to challenge for the Leigh parliamentary seat.

Coun Williams is the current deputy leader of Trafford Council, serving under Sean Anstee who finished runner-up to Andy Burnham in the race to become GM mayor.

The 42-year-old, who is also a director for a global accountancy firm, said: “It is a privilege to have been selected to fight Wigan at the general election.

"I look forward to campaigning over the coming weeks on issues such as getting the best Brexit deal for Britain and Wigan with controlled immigration, a strong and stable economy with more local jobs and controlled development locally only where public services can cope.”

Mr Carney, 27, is from Salford and works as a human resources officer in the car industry.

He said: “I am committed to get the best deal for the UK and the people of Makerfield as we leave the European Union.

“I want to see controlled immigration and a strong local economy that provides jobs and opportunities for all.

“I will support Theresa May and know that under her guidance the UK will have strong and stable leadership for the future.

“I will also be campaigning to protect the green belt across the Makerfield constituency and that any development only goes ahead once adequate infrastructure is in place in advance.”

The challenge facing the Conservative pair in toppling Labour’s Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue will be seen by many as near impossible. But hopes of causing a dent in their majorities will have been buoyed by the opposition party’s poor showing at last week’s local elections across the country.

The Conservative Party has this week said its commitment to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” will form part of the party’s General Election manifesto, released in the next few weeks.

Last month Prime Minister May - who failed to hit the target as Home Secretary - restated her hope to cut annual net migration to a “sustainable” level in the tens of thousands.

Coun James Grundy, who represents Lowton East ward, has issued five pledges as part of a campaign manifesto, incorporating both national and local issues.

His introduction into the race for the Leigh seat means there are two councillors going head-to-head with Labour’s Jo Platt also confirmed as a candidate.

Coun Grundy, who currently serves as deputy leader of the opposition under colleague Coun Michael Winstanley, told Wigan Today a vote for his party will see Brexit delivered.

He has also pledged to fight for a train station in the town, a campaign he has supported for several years, and is proposing for Leigh to have its own council, with the current borough authority split into two.

There is also a promise to deliver regeneration of the town centre and to protect green belt in the wake of the controversial Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Regarding the proposed new arrangement for the borough council, he said: “Effectively, Leigh, Golborne, Lowton, Atherton, Tyldesley and Astley would form one borough and the remaining areas in Wigan would form the other.

“Other areas have seen similar arrangements work, such as Rutland splitting from Leicestershire.

“It could be a relatively simple procedure, like many London borough councils, we could share senior officers, but it would mean decisions about Leigh will be made in Leigh.

“I think a lot of people would back this. It would take time but it is certainly deliverable.”

Coun Grundy said the funds to regenerate town centres in the east of the borough could be found from the council’s dividend from its investment in Manchester Airport.