Voters go to the polls

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THE borough goes to the polls today for the council elections.

A third of all town hall seats are actually up for grabs but this year the mainstream parties are making no pretence that polling isn’t also effectively a referendum on the performance of the Coalition Conservative-led Government and Labour’s effectiveness in opposing the cuts.

With the exception of the growing Independent Group opposition - which traditionally benefits from a small turnout - Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems will be hoping that predictions about the lack on interest in the elections isn’t reflected in an even lower number of people voting.

Postal vote return figures from the election office show that postal vote turnout is significantly up on previous years with all wards in Makerfield “above 40 per cent” as of close of play.

And this is reflected across the borough.

The postal vote tends to favour Labour and sources within the ruling party are privately sufficiently encouraged to be talking about up to half a dozen Labour gains.

The sitting Independent councillors in Hindley and Bryn are expected to win through despite strong campaigns from Labour, although Labour are hopeful of a breakthrough in Ashton and possibly, Orrell.

In Wigan constituency, Standish sees a particularly fascinating battle where a former Leader of the Opposition is defending the seat for the Tories against a campaign by an Independent who split from the Conservatives to found his own party.