The wards up for grabs on Wigan's Labour-dominated council

The local elections in Wigan do not seem an exciting prospect on the surface given the fact no wards changed hands in 2021 with Labour dominating.

However, there are certain wards which could swing with the rise in cries for change from voters.

Going back to May 2021 the Conservatives came closest to taking a Labour seat in the Leigh South ward where Kevin Anderson retained his spot with 1,695 votes to Joshua Yates’ 1,423.

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Mr Yates is looking to get into the council for Leigh South yet again this year but will come up against a formidable opponent in Charles Rigby who has been serving as councillor for the ward since 2000.

The fact that the closest the Conservatives got to claiming a Labour ward was by 272 votes is indicative of Labour’s dominance.

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Orrell is a ward that Labour could increase their stranglehold on Wigan Council and oust Conservative leader Michael Winstanley though who is up for re-election after retaining his seat last year by a margin of 171 votes.

Coun Winstanley is an experienced councillor though and well known in his ward having served on the council between 2000 and 2011 and then 2016 until present, so he will be a difficult candidate to beat for Dave Wood of Labour and Co-operative and Neil Stevenson of the Liberal Democrats.

A flashback to the Wigan local election count of 2021 at Robin Park Sports and Tennis CentreA flashback to the Wigan local election count of 2021 at Robin Park Sports and Tennis Centre
A flashback to the Wigan local election count of 2021 at Robin Park Sports and Tennis Centre

Another big name up for re-election is Coun Susan Gambles, portfolio holder for housing and welfare.

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Despite only serving as a councillor since 2018, she became a cabinet member quickly after winning her seat by 668 votes (57.2 per cent of the overall vote).

This election is not all about the battle between red and blue though with the Independent Alliance providing a strong opposition to Labour on their own, showing the continuing trend away from traditional politics in Wigan.

The Independent Network, who work in conjunction with Independent councillors Bob Brierley, Andrew Collinson, and Sylvia Wilkinson are looking to get three more councillors into power and keep Coun Stuart Gerrard in Atherton.

Natasha Hodgkinson is hoping for election in Atherleigh, James Richardson is targeting Bryn, and Deborah Lloyd is looking to claim Hindley Green.

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Gaining those wards would see the Independent Alliance gain more seats than the Conservative and Shevington Alliance.

Coun Gerrard is looking to keep a clean sweep of Independent Network councillors in Atherton.

Both his peers in the ward Coun Paul Watson and Coun Jamie Hodgkinson have scored comfortable majorities in their last elections, just like Coun Gerrard back in 2018 – making it a stronghold for the group.

Heading into the election on May 5, Labour control 57 seats in Wigan Council, Conservative and Shevington Alliance hold nine, and the Independent Alliance hold seven.

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Candidates have been out on the campaign trail in recent weeks, pushing pamphlets through letter boxes and asking residents what the issues are that will influence their voting decisions.

And reports are that there is a split, with some focused on local issues, whether it be Wigan town centre or traffic, while others’ main beefs are about national issues such as Partygate or the cost of living crisis.