Candidates are preparing to do battle as ex-mayor steps down

The council chamber at Wigan Town Hall
The council chamber at Wigan Town Hall

FIVE candidates will contest the Douglas by-election on Thursday November 13 following the resignation of former mayor Joy Birch.

The poll will almost certainly be the last chance to gain a seat in Wigan’s council chamber until the 2015 local elections which will coincide with the General Election.

Here the five hopefuls outline their campaigns. The winning candidate will represent Douglas ward until 2016.

Margaret Atherton standing for the Conservative Party

“This election is not about who runs the country nor will it change who runs the council. But the Labour Party has taken the residents of Douglas for far too long.

“The council are currently refurbishing the Town Hall which is costing hundreds of thousands of pounds when they constantly claim that they have no money. At the same time residents have to put up with roads full of pot holes, terrible pavements and litter in the streets. I want to see money on improving Douglas Ward not offices at the Town Hall. I am also opposed to Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner employing a deputy on £50,000 per year while residents are faced with anti social behaviour and thugs and criminals who make decent people’s lives a misery. Enough is enough we need to be tough on crime and criminals. I will also have regular surgeries and keep residents informed as to what is happening at the Town Hall and how I am working on their behalf.”

Michael Moulding standing for the Community Action Party

“On behalf of the Community Action Party, we are using the opportunity to campaign for a City of Wigan and to return to the county of Lancashire, we want the campaign for city status to remain on the local political agenda.

“Wigan is playing second fiddle in terms of the economy to other cities in the North West including Manchester, Liverpool and Preston who are all benefitting from government city deals worth billions of pounds in total. Wigan deserves a city deal and the merits of city status are obvious.

“We want more jobs, increased tourism, more business, inward investment as well as elevating Wigan on the regional, national and international stage.

“This can be done if we withdraw from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Wigan becomes a city in its own right in a county of Lancashire where we belong.”

Damien Hendry standing for the Green Party

“As a campaigner for social and environmental justice, I am calling on Wigan to go-green. We will present the voters of Douglas ward with a real alternative to the austerity agenda.

“If elected, I intend to build on the council’s living wage policy by pressing for better pay for all workers across the borough, press for a no fracking policy in Wigan borough and fight to defend the people of Wigan borough against the cuts to jobs, council services and local NHS provisions.

“I am a Wigan resident with a background in international trade union policy research, freelance social media marketing and support work for disabled students. I want to see real equality of opportunity for local people, a reverse in the historic decline of wages and living standards across the borough and measures to protect our local environment and communities.”

Maggie Skilling standing for the Labour Party

“We are living in hard times and as a Public Governor of Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust and a committed community activist in Douglas ward I have seen at first hand how ordinary people and our public services are being affected by Tory cuts.

“I attended Notre Dame High School in Wigan and spent 20 years as a social worker in Wigan and surrounding areas so I know the issues that matter to the people of the town.

“If I am elected to the council I will make sure that the people of Douglas have their voices heard and will work with my colleagues in the Labour Party to fight back against unfair government policies like the bedroom tax and the privatisation of our NHS.”

Derek Wilkes standing for the UK Independence Party

“I was brought up as a Labour supporter but I have seen consecutive Labour councils in Wigan waste money on vanity projects and development without any consultation with the electorate and destroying a lot of history in doing so. It is my opinion they have ridden roughshod over the very people they represent and purport to care about for far too long.

“I understand how the general public feel about the situations in our country today and I want to represent local people in the fight for democracy, respect and honesty which I feel this present council do not possess.

“As well as living in the ward I have also spent many years working in the area for an insurance company. And for the last eight years I have featured as a film and TV extra, including roles in Peaky Blinders and playing the vicar in Waterloo Road.”