Wigan Council Elections 2012 round-up: Few shocks as Labour hold firm despite strong challenge from rivals

By Mihaela Ivantcheva, Adam Ryder & Lucy Hilton

Labour held firm in Wigan last night despite a stronger-than-expected showing from rival candidates.

Overall Labour now holds 46 seats on the council, gaining three while the Conservatives gained a single seat in Shevington but are still only on 10.

Labour saw gains in the Astley Mosley Common, Golborne Lowton West and Atherton wards.

The Lib Dems – who suffered at the polls across Greater Manchester on a poor night for the coalition partners – hold six seats.

The local Labour party did not have it all their own way, losing Atherton to independent candidate Jamie Hodgkinson.

Mr Hodgkinson was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night beating Labour by 460 votes.

He said: “I feel absolutely fantastic, I knew from the start I was going to win, it’s my first time and Labour had no chance.

“It’s a deprived area that needs work doing but we are slowly getting there.

“We have the kids’ fund which independent councillors donated more than £3000 to and Labour only gave £600, they didn’t want to know.”

Conservative candidate Stephen Holt endured a dismal night, polling just 179 votes and finishing behind Green Socialists For Investment Not Cuts candidate Stephen Hall.

Mr Holt said: “There is austerity everywhere in Europe and people are starting to get a bit more volatile politically. We are all trying to get through what can be many years of austerity.”

This statement reflected the turnout of last night’s elections. While it was still very low, with Leigh East managing 22.75% turn out, it was seen as an improvement to previous turnouts.

Tydlesley, another ward dominated by Labour, was a surprise as well. It was wrestled away by the Liberal Democrats newly elected Councillor Robert Mark Bleakley who received 1441 votes.

Labour long-standing candidate Susan Loudon hopes came true after voters put their trust in her again to serve Atherleigh.

Mrs Loudon won against two independent candidates Stuart Andrew Gerrard and Jim Kerfoot.

She said: “I am relieved. It was close. It is people’s voice. I have worked very hard, long-hours. It has paid off.”

However, Mr Gerrard, standing for the first time, attacked her politics. He said: “I want people to see what damage Labour are actually doing in Atherleigh and in Atherton. People are disenchanted for being let down. I am open for change.”

Mrs Luton responded to her rival’s attack by saying: “When you look at their leaflets and the lies they have written about our leaflets – personal insults. People like that should not be representing people.”

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