CAMPAIGNERS hoping to form a town council in Atherton are taking their battle to Whitehall after launching a petition.

The Wigan Independent Network (WIN) argues that two recent community governance reviews showed overwhelming public support for a town council in Atherton.

The group has now asked communities secretary Eric Pickles to grant them a right to appeal Wigan Borough Council’s decision to seemingly ignore the results.

According to WIN, 90 per cent of people voted in favour of a town council in a 2014 community governance review, with 83 per cent approving it in 2010.

Chris Green, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Bolton West, supports the campaign and said: “There is a huge amount of support in Atherton for this.

“We see in Westhoughton, Horwich and Blackrod, how important it is that these groups can challenge decisions made by borough councils. For people living quite a way from the town centre, it is important they feel they have a distinctive voice.”

Cllr Andy Morgan, who has called for town councils to be abolished, said: “Ultimately it is up to people of Atherton whether they want this or not.

“I still that it is an utterly useless layer of local democracy.”

If Mr Pickles upholds the appeal following the petition, he can insist that Wigan Council hold a referendum on the issue on or before the next local elections. If a two-thirds majority of voters back the idea the council would be required to form a new parish council for Atherton.

Create a Council Week aims to inspire people and communities to join the 9,000 other parish councils in England and Wales.

Cllr Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for customer transformation at Wigan Council, said: “In Atherton, 655 responses were received, out of 6,579 households.

“Only 8.79 per cent of the households in Atherton responded to say they were unhappy with the current governance arrangements.

“Would it be fair then, to impose this bill along with another layer of local government to those 92.1 per cent of people in Atherton who didn’t ask for it?”