EARLY polls in the crucial Bolton West constituency ahead of next year’s general election predict Labour will hold the seat.
There were just 92 votes between Labour and the Tories in 2010 — with the two parties practically tied on 38 per cent — but the latest figures show current MP Julie Hilling taking 40 per cent with the Conservatives’ Chris Green polling 30 per cent.
The latest polls, in which 1,000 people were interviewed, show UKIP support rocket to 22 per cent, compared with four per cent in 2010, while the Liberal Democrats plummet from 17.2 per cent to just six per cent.
Bolton West will be a key battleground for the Conservatives and Labour over the coming months, and Tory candidate Mr Green dismissed the latest figures.
He said: “It is only a snapshot, it is not a prediction for the future.
“The people of Bolton West will now start looking a lot more closely at their candidates and as we get closed to the election that is the important thing.”
He said he was campaigning on a number of issues, including making sure Bolton West has the right transport links, enough school places, medical facilities and playing fields to support the population, especially given the proposed £260 million redevelopment of the Horwich Loco Works.
He added: “It is very important for me that the people of Bolton West are supported fully by their council, something which I do not think Bolton’s Labour Council does, especially with a council tax rise of 1.9 per cent.
“I want these hardworking taxpayers to know I am there for them and over the next nine months, I intend to earn their votes.”
Current MP for Bolton West Ms Hilling welcomed the polls but said she would not be taking anything for granted.
She said: “I think voters across Bolton West are feeling the pinch and many of them are facing a cost of living crisis.
“We’ve been very clear with how we want to build the economy if we are fortunate enough to be in government, including supporting small and medium businesses, reducing business rates, increasing the minimum wage and support companies who are paying the living wage.
“I would ask voters in Bolton to look at what I’m delivering as their MP on a daily basis in parliament and in the constituency, and to recognise that I am an MP very much on their side and keen to make sure that we make life better for people living in this community.”
UKIP and the Liberal Democrats have yet to announce their candidates for Bolton West.