Break-away bid is booted out

Atherton town council protest march in Wigan town centre
Atherton town council protest march in Wigan town centre

TOWN hall bosses have killed off a campaign for a break-away council despite support from residents.

Wigan Council’s ruling cabinet knocked back a proposal to create a town council for Atherton on the advice of council officials.

Although three quarters of those who responded backed the bid for a town council for Atherton, the overall number taking part was adjudged to be too low to justify the move.

In Atherton, Atherleigh and Tyldesley a mere 8.79 per cent of voters took part in the poll.

But deputy leader of the opposition Coun Norman Bradbury - a main proposer of the independence bid - said the decision had stunned residents who took part in the poll.

He said the cabinet’s decision ignored the wishes of the voters, with 77.1 per cent of voters across all Wigan wards in favour and more than 90 per cent backing the scheme in Atherton.

And he argued the online-only poll blocked many residents from having their say.

Coun Bradbury said: “When residents did succeed many have told me that the site was unavailable and that they gave up trying.

“The fully online consultation disenfranchised at least 65 per cent of residents, particularly the elderly, who don’t have access to a computer.

“While hundreds of residents in Atherton failed to get a copy of Borough Life and others received a copy but no fact sheet.”

“And despite all this there was nearly a 500 per cent increase in responses from Atherton, Atherleigh, and Tyldesley compared with the 2010.” He said that members of Wigan Independent Network together with other groups staged an energetic and well-supported lobby of the Cabinet meeting “to no avail.”

But Atherleigh Labour Coun Susan Loudon welcomed the decision and said that the interest shown in the consultation had been very poor.

She said: “I think the Cabinet made the correct decision, to take no action, because it is not just the people who voted who would be paying the tax.

“It would be all the other people living in Atherton, Atherleigh and Tyldesley and we have a duty to protect their interests equally and there were more of them.”