Tight contest forecast in Bolton elections
BOLTON goes to the polls tomorrow in what is expected to be a tightly fought contest between the three major political parties.
Twenty seats on Bolton Council are up for grabs - one third of the council - including those of Labour leader Cliff Morris, Lib Dem leader Roger Hayes and the outgoing Mayor of Bolton, Lib Dems' Barbara Ronson.
There are 20 Labour candidates, 20 Liberal Democrats and 19 Conservatives following the withdrawal of Zahid Raja, their candidate in the Rumworth ward.
There are also 10 Green Party candidates, while the fringe party candidates are headed by the You Party with six, the BNP have two candidates and there is one Left List candidate.
Ainslie Casson, who is contesting the Westhoughton South seat, is the only independent candidate. He released his manifesto yesterday, in which he pledges to improve Westhoughton's influence within Bolton Council, defend green belt land from development, increase policing levels and tackle congestion.
The make-up of the council currently stands at 26 seats for Labour, 22 for the Conservatives, 11 for the Lib Dems and one independent.
Despite a difficult time for the Labour party nationally, Cllr Morris is confident his party's slim hold on the control of the council can be strengthened.
But Conservative group leader John Walsh believes his party will capitalise on Labour's difficulties nationally to regain control of Bolton Council for the first time in 28 years.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are hopeful of picking up an extra two or three wards.
Polling stations around the borough open at 7am tomorrow. Everyone eligible to vote should have received a polling card stating the location of their polling station. The polls will close at 10pm, when all the ballot boxes will be transported to the count at Bolton Arena.
Many of the 30,574 people who applied for a postal vote have already returned their forms. They will also be counted at Bolton Arena. People with postal votes who did not send them back in time can hand-deliver them to the One-stop shop at Bolton Town Hall until 10pm tomorrow. Electors can also drop them off at polling stations in their wards.
In Bury, 65 candidates are standing for election in the borough's 17 wards. The Conservative group, which currently controls the executive, will be hoping to increase their majority. They have 23 seats to Labour's 20. The Lib Dems will want to improve on their eight seats.