Vote on town future gets a step closer

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OPPOSITION councillors claim a drive for the borough’s first town council is a step nearer.

Wigan Independent Network (WIN) representatives met council officers and community leaders this week to present an enabling-petition which could now trigger a referendum to ask voters in Atherton if they wants their own level of democratic control.

The meeting identified the exact area which would be covered by the town council, should it eventually be approved.

Coun Norman Bradbury, spokesman for the campaign group, said that the communities preferred method of consultation would be to send every resident their own ballot paper, rather than the approach two years ago, where a single Community Governance Review leaflet was sent to each household.

This will now have to take place by February 2014.

Coun Bradbury said: “I urge the vast majority of residents in Atherton who support the bid for their own Town Council to vote yes when they get their ballot papers in the summer.”

However, Atherton Labour ward councillor and ruling cabinet member Susan Loudon said that she had spoken to council officers who had met a “handful of protagonists”.

She said: “Discussions were held because the group did not know where the boundary of the 1974 Atherton Urban District Council was and the residents have now agreed to review the area.

“It is for the Council to decide whether there should be a referendum and, if there is one, what happens then.

“Coun Bradbury is urging people to vote but if there is a vote I would suggest that people consider very carefully the cost of having a parish or town council.

“I stress that this will not get rid of Wigan metropolitan, it will just be another tier of bureaucracy that will cost rate payers more money for no extra services.”