VOTERS will head to the polls in Leigh West on Thursday (October 14) to choose their next councillor.

The by-election is being held following the death of veteran councillor and former local authority leader Lord Peter Smith during the summer.

Lord Smith, of Labour, was first elected to the Leigh West seat in 1978 and had remained in the post until his death in August.

Aiming to retain the seat for Labour is candidate Samantha Brown.

She will go up against Conservative candidate James Geddes; Leigh West independent Jayson Hargreaves and Liberal Democrat Sharron Honey.

Lord Smith served as leader of Wigan Council for 27 years from 1991 until 2018 and over the past three decades gained a reputation as one of the most influential council leaders in the UK.

Lord Peter Smith served Leigh West for 48 years

Lord Peter Smith served Leigh West for 48 years

He was born and bred in Leigh and dedicated more than four decades to representing residents through Wigan Council.

His work included playing a key role in the development of Leigh Sports Village.

The count after the by-election is expected to begin at 10pm, with a result expected within a couple of hours.

Labour currently has a strong grip on power in the town hall, occupying 56 of the seats on the council. 

This was maintained in May's local elections this year as no seats changed hands.

Residents of the ward should have received a poll card through the post telling them where to vote.

Anyone who has not got one, or who is not sure where to vote, should call Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council on 01942 827168.