HOME rule for Leigh is the dream of local councillor Norman Bradbury.
Now, less than a week before a 6,000 name petition is handed in demanding Leigh has its own Town Council, he's suggesting Leigh teams up with surrounding towns to go it alone as a local authority.
But Wigan Council leader Clrl Peter Smith said that although the Town Council petition would be considered he believed the idea of creating a new, separate authority covering Leigh, Tyldesley, Atherton and Golborne had "no chance" in the current economic situation. Cllr Bradbury, The Atherton ward representative on Wigan Council, who is an Independent candidate for Leigh Constituency, wants the Electoral Commission to review boundaries.
He would like to see the Wigan Borough wards of Leigh East, Leigh West, Leigh South, Atherleigh, Atherton, Tyldesley, Golborne and Lowton West, Lowton East and Hindley Green combined under one banner.
Explaining the reasoning behind his stance Cllr Bradbury said: "The citizens of these wards feel strongly that the present Wigan MBC is far too large and unwieldy, and doesn’t listen to them regarding local issues.
"They have a strong desire to bring back local control of the Leigh area by having their own Metropolitan Borough Council. These wards cover a large enough area to support such a move.
"Historically the community of Leigh has very little in common with Wigan, and that Wigan MBC was brought about for political reasons rather than sound improvements of community cohesion.
"If Leigh did have it’s own Metropolitan Borough Council that wouldn’t stop co-operation with Wigan MBC in the supply of services across the two Borough Council areas where economies of scale could be achieved.
"Atherton, Leigh, and Tyldesley are already in the process of requesting a community governance review for their areas to hopefully bring back some local democracy, with their own Town Councils.
"The present undemocratic Township Forums will be redundant once new Town Councils are constituted. The cost of Township Forums should be deducted from the council tax payable in the areas with new Town Councils, and replaced by the precept set by each Town Council.
"This means instead of Wigan imposing the cost of a Township Forum on a community, the community itself would decide the Town Council precept through it’s own elected Town Councillors."
*Next Wednesday a petition of around 6,000 names calling for the establishment of a Leigh Town Council will be handed-in at Wigan Town Hall.
*Local government reorganisation in 1974 resulted in the dissolution of Leigh Borough Council along with Tyldesley, Atherton, Golborne and Hindley urban district councils and the envelopment of those areas under Wigan MBC.