Chris Green MP: Preparing for all-out local elections in Wigan borough
They do not always capture the national media attention but this year’s local elections are likely to be big news.
The results are often seen as a health check on the national government even when local councillors work independently for their local community rather than follow the Westminster agenda.
This often means that political parties are rewarded or punished not for what they are delivering locally but what their leaders are doing nationally.
The tension, amongst councillors and candidates, across the Wigan Borough are heightened this year because we are having ‘all out’ elections.
Each ward has three councillors and they are normally elected one after the other over three years after which we have a year’s break.
Due to us having a local government boundary review, all seventy five council seats are up for election all at the same time.
I do not think that there is an expectation of a political earthquake happening locally but that does not settle the nerves as we head into the election.
Quirks and random events can always happen and are far more likely when the ballot paper has three times as many candidates.
There are more independent candidates standing than there has been for many years and they can be remarkably effective at championing that cause of their residents.
I know this because of the hard work that Atherton’s independent councillors have put in.
We have been working together on challenging the local housing developments and winning additional funding for our local secondary school.
There are always political rivalries but people can and should work together after the electoral dust has settled.
In fact we need more local campaigning on delivering more places as so many schools across the Borough are over capacity.
Thirty one schools are in this category and, when Wigan Council are responsible for building so many more houses in the local area they need to do more to deliver more funding for the local schools.
Policing is always a hot topic and it is great to see our Chief of Police, Stephen Watson, show the leadership we need.
I know that Labour constantly complain about policing but they usually ignore that fact that the Police and Crime Commissioner is one of their own.
I know that the Chief has focussed on arresting criminals and has reopened custody suites that the Mayor allowed the last Chief to close.
This focus is cutting crime and we can see that in the figures.
Over the last year, GMP has solved two thirds more burglaries than the previous year and there has been an increase of well over a third being arrested for burglary. This action has led to a cut of 688 burglaries.
Just as in policing, getting the right political leadership means that the whole team works better and delivers results.
Getting the right electoral and politicians result can be transformative for delivering local services so make your vote count.