Labour celebrate but UKIP make gains

The elected Labour Councillors with MP Yvonne Fovargue
The elected Labour Councillors with MP Yvonne Fovargue

WIGAN’S ruling Labour Party maintained its overwhelming majority although UKIP grabbed a 16 per cent share in the local elections.

In one of the most hotly contested votes of the night, Standish Independent Debbie Fairhurst’s victory means the ward will be represented by three members of the same family. Debbie joins husband Gareth and father-in-law George (pictured below).

Independent Councillors George, Debbie and Gareth Fairhurst

Independent Councillors George, Debbie and Gareth Fairhurst

Despite not winning a seat, UKIP gained a significant share of the vote, pushing Labour close in several wards.

Labour claimed 51 per cent of the overall vote, Conservatives 16.6 and UKIP 16.

UKIP Wigan leader Alan Freeman - who lost out to Labour’s Paul Prescott in Pemberton - said: “We can build on this result next year, we have come second in a majority of areas.

“We have made big gains in Labour strongholds such as Ince and Abram and it’s clear that we are picking up Labour votes, there’s no doubts about it.”

But in a night of few surprises for Labour, mayor-to-be Phyll Cullen retained her seat in Wigan West as did leader Lord Peter Smith in Leigh West.

23 out of the 25 seats up on the night were won by Labour. Meaning the party’s share of seats in the 75-strong chamber reduced from 63 to 62.

Deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “(With Labour) having won 24 out of 25 seats in 2011 we were up against it to replicate that.

“But we have been quite successful, obviously the European elections have affected the vote because some people may have seen it as a referendum on Europe.

“The main thing is that we have been given a mandate to carry on the good work we have already been doing in the borough.”

After the announcement that Standish would be represented by the Fairhurst trio, Debbie Fairhurst said: “I would like to thank everyone who voted for me in Standish, hopefully this means the council will take notice of what we’re saying. We don’t want anymore houses in Standish.”

The Conservative Party gained a seat in Lowton East in place of retiring Labour representative James Cowley.

Former councillor Ed Houlton beat Labour’s Eleanor Blackburn and will join party colleague Coun James Grundy in the chamber.

But the number of Conservatives will remain at two after former Mayor Michael Winstanley lost out to David Arrowsmith who held Orrell for Labour.

Mr Winstanley said: “It was extremely close and I’m obviously disappointed but I am pleased that, given that we are in Government, we have pushed Labour close in some areas.

“And we gained a seat in Lowton East, I can’t remember the last time we gained a seat when we have been in Government.

“We are good shape for the general election.”

Labour’s Joanne Marshall gained the Tyldesley seat vacated by outgoing Liberal Democrat Paul Valentine - leaving the Lib Dems with no candidates in Wigan.

In Standish, sitting councillor Emma McGurrin - who was standing for the Real Labour Party, having left Labour earlier this year - received 63 votes.

Overall turnout at the local elections in Wigan borough was 28.5 per cent with Makerfield turnout ranged from 33.2 per cent in Orrell to 24.7 per cent in Abram. Wigan turnout ranged from 36.7 per cent in Standish to 24.9 per cent in Douglas