A SITTING councillor is asking the electorate to give him another chance in the council chamber in one of Bolton’s most competitive seats.
The ward of Westhoughton North and Chew Moor is one of the closest run in the council — with no councillor managing to retain their seats since 2004.
Now, with two Labour councillors, Conservative current councillor Martyn Cox said his ward is a “microcosm” of the country — prone to changes in line with the national mood, and making it one of the most exciting to fight.
He said: “Westhoughton is unique in Bolton in terms of its volatility.
“It’s gone exactly as the national polls over the past few years — Bolton West is traditionally a marginal seat, and Westhoughton North as a ward reflects that.”
Now Cllr Cox says he is hoping to break the pattern of the last 10 years and get re-elected on Thursday.
He added: “In the long run it doesn’t do the ward much good if it changes its councillors every year — it doesn’t give them a change to push and fight for the ward.
"I’m dismayed we’re the only town in Greater Manchester to put up the council tax, and I and my Conservative colleagues voted against it.”
Fighting against Cllr Cox is chairman of Bolton UKIP Joan Johnson, who says the party is hoping to get several candidates elected on Thursday.
She added: “If elected I would work towards bringing power to the local people — to give them a voice about what they think is best for their community.
“I’d think in terms of planning applications — it’s very built up, and the roads are overloaded, does the area need any more houses?”
But Labour candidate Anne Graham, a case worker for Bolton West MP Julie Hilling, said there is a real need for new houses in Westhoughton.
She added: “I want to stand in my home ward and represent the people to make sure we get the best facilities. Obviously housing is needed by people, but it’s going to be built on appropriate sites and the green belt has to be protected.
“I also believe what they are doing at the Winifred Kettle care home is a very good thing — lots of people I’ve spoken to are very happy about what is happening there.”
Also on the ballot paper is Independent candidate and town councillor Jack Speight, Liberal Democrat and former councillor Derek Gradwell and Green Party member Heather Rylance.
Cllr Speight, who won 11 per cent of the vote last time he stood, said: “It’s my neighbourhood, it’s my community, and seeing it run down is heartbreaking.
“It’s the every day things that seem overlooked — potholes in the road, grass cutting, dog fouling. As the underdog you’re a lone voice but you’re not alone — you can reason, debate and discuss with the councillors for everyone to come together and listen.”
Ms Rylance, a Deane resident, said she is standing on an anti-cuts agenda and to see environmental issues given more weight.
She added: “I would be concerned about any moves for fracking in the area. It’s been suggested that there might be plans to frack there, and I’d oppose it.”
While leader of the Liberal Democrats Roger Hayes said Derek Gradwell, a solicitor, was an ‘excellent choice’ for Westhoughton.
Cllr Hayes added: “He’s got extremely good experience, a very good analytical mind, and he’s not someone who shouts his mouth out before he thinks.”
- You can see a full list of all the election candidates here, with live results updates on Thursday night.