Leader rejects Leigh Council idea

Lord Peter Smith
Lord Peter Smith
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THE leader of Wigan Council has poured cold water on an opposition councillor’s idea for Leigh to have its own local authority again.

Lord Peter Smith, who represents Leigh West ward in the council chamber, spoke out after Conservative councillor for Lowton East ward James Grundy proposed splitting the borough into two unitary councils.

Coun Grundy made the radical suggestion as he believes people living from Lowton to Astley do not feel part of Wigan borough and floated the proposal to communities secretary Eric Pickles on a recent visit to Atherton.

Mr Pickles told him he would be willing to discuss the idea after the general election in May, and Coun Grundy now hopes to start a public debate on the issue.

However, Lord Smith said in a climate of continued reductions in local government budgets the idea was simply not realistic.

Lord Smith said: “For the past five years Eric Pickles has robbed local people of more than £100m and passed it on to Tory councils in the south.

“The only reorganisation that is likely happen is the compulsory merger of smaller councils to create even bigger local authorities in light of the continued pressure on councils to make cuts.

“Coun Grundy’s plans would carry a big increase in council tax after Labour’s freeze for two years.

“If Coun Grundy had the chance to lobby Eric Pickles he would have been better asking for a fair deal from the Tories. Fortunately we have the opportunity in the general election to replace Coun Grundy’s mates with someone who would treat us fairly in the North.”