THE battlelines have been drawn for this year’s local elections.
Candidates from across the political spectrum will be vying for the public’s votes on Thursday, May 22 — the same day as the European elections.
Labour currently runs the council with 41 councillors, against 16 Conservatives and three Liberal Democrats, and will be looking to strengthen its grip on the town.
As well as the mainstream political parties, UKIP will field a candidate in every seat for the first time.
The BNP and Left Union will also stand in Tonge with the Haulgh, and the English Democrats in Westhoughton South .
Leading politicians from all sides are facing re-election, including Labour cabinet members Nick Peel, Sufrana Ismail and Kevin McKeon, while leader of the Tories David Greenhalgh, deputy leader Andy Morgan and former leader John Walsh also find their names on the ballot.
Two seats are up for grabs in the Horwich and Blackrod ward, following the resignation of Labour councillor Lindsey Kell.
Meanwhile Westhoughton North and Chew Moor will also be a big fight— where current Tory education spokesman Cllr Martyn Cox faces strong campaigning from Labour, which is looking to get its third candidate into the ward.
Liberal Democrat councillor Anthony Radlett has decided not to seek re-election in Smithills, opening up a seat in the traditional liberal stronghold.
And Peter McGeehan, a former Mayor who has been a member of Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the past, will stand for UKIP in Horwich north east.
The returning officer this year is Sean Harriss, chief executive of Bolton Council.
Polls will open across Bolton on May 22, with the count starting at 10pm at night.
CLLR CLIFF MORRIS - LABOUR
Labour say this month’s local elections is theirs to win — but they are not pulling any punches.
The ruling party is looking to squeeze its opposition by taking key marginal seats off the Conservatives and Lib Dems.
Leader of Labour and Bolton Council Cllr Cliff Morris added the party is not underestimating the presence of UKIP in the hustings.
He added: “It is our year. I’m pleased with the team we’ve got, we’ve got that balance of age, of women and minorities and that is important.
“We’re not worried about UKIP, we know they are a force to be reckoned with and I think we’ve got the policies to match that.
“I’m not saying we should wipe out the opposition, but if they’ve gone back on their word then it’s up to them. You’ve got to keep your promises.”
CLLR DAVID GREENHALGH - CONSERVATIVES
The stakes are high for the Conservative group this year, as key members of the party face re-election.
Six of the 16 Tory councillors are on the ballot paper this May, including the group’s leader and deputy leader.
Leader of the Conservatives, Cllr David Greenhalgh, who is standing for re-election in Bromley Cross, acknowledged that the unprecedented UKIP presence could make things difficult for the Tories.
He added: “All we can hope for is that people will vote for candidates and parties on their local agendas, and not be tempted to vote on national issues.
“We have hard working councillors, who are known locally and they can be judge on their records locally — and I’d ask UKIP what their policies are for Bolton.
“If people want to risk waking up to a Labour council, that’s what they are doing if they vote UKIP.”
CLLR ROGER HAYES - LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
Liberal Democrats in Bolton say they are ready for a fight in the upcoming ‘tough’ election.
While the group ran the council in 2006, in recent years numbers have dwindled.
There are just three Lib Dems candidates, all in Smithills, left in the council chamber.
Cllr Roger Hayes, leader of the group, said he believes they have a good chance of retaining Smithills with 22-year-old candidate Andrew Martin, a Cambridge law graduate, after standing councillor Anthony Radlett steps down.
He added: “I think it’s going to be a tough election, as they always are when you are in government.
“We always put up a challenge in Horwich North East and in Westhoughton South, and I also think we will make an advance in Little Lever.
“The big unknown is what UKIP will do, but I think it will be very different in different ward.
“People should vote for the Lib Dems because we presented a very sensible budget which included a £3m investment in roads, a review of the number of councillors — and we’re the only party to stand up for the green belt, particularly over the great issue of Smithills Coaching House.”
JOAN JOHNSON - UKIP
In a year where Nigel Farage has dominated the national headlines, the Bolton branch of UKIP is hoping to shake up the mainstream parties in the town.
UKIP has put forward the most candidates ever for this year’s local elections, with a potential councillor standing in every seat.
Previously Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP, said in a visit to Farnworth there was a ‘unique’ opportunity for the party in Bolton as people also cast their votes in the European elections at the same time.
Chairman Joan Johnson, who is standing in Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, said she was excited for polling day and the party hopes to have “at least” three people elected.
She added: “What we’re saying for Bolton is that we feel that Labour have lost this town — it’s not the town that I came to 40 odd years ago.
“If elected we would say to the people of Bolton — what do you want, what is right for this town?
“It’s about bringing the heart back into the town centre, revitalising it again, and looking at reducing the business rates for businesses.”
ALAN JOHNSON - GREEN PARTY
No fracking, a 20mph zone in all residential areas across Bolton and continued campaigning against austerity measures are the main platforms for the Green Party this May 22.
Alan Johnson, chairman of the party and standing to be a councillor in Rumworth, said the Greens represent an alternative to all the other parties — including UKIP.
He added: “We are opposed to the austerity measures brought in by the coalition government, and in some ways supported by Labour unfortunately — and UKIP aren’t against them either.
“Locally you won’t find another party totally opposing fracking in Bolton, we have nailed our colours to the mast quite clearly on that.
“We’ve also campaigned over the last few years to introduce 20mph in residential areas across Bolton, something which Labour are dragging their feet over because of the cost.
“This is the most we’ve ever stood at a local elections. Thousands of people now have the chance to vote for an alternative to other parties, and we’re hoping to get more MEPs elected this time too.”