VOTERS in West Lancs go to the polls today for this year’s council elections – with a number of seats set to be hotly contested.
Five parties are fielding candidates across the borough – with UKIP, the Green Party and the Lib Dems represented along with Labour and the Conservatives, as well as two independents.
Each were given the chance to have their say on five key issues affecting residents in last week’s Advertiser Election Charter, to give readers an idea of what their party would do for the borough.
Labour go into the election hoping to make inroads on the Conservative-controlled council, while the Tories are determined to retain their 12-strong majority.
The leading group, who took control from Labour in 2002 when West Lancs was still a district council, currently hold 33 of the 54 council seats.
Last year the Conservative party increased its majority after gaining former Labour leader Paul Cotterill's Bickerstaffe seat as well as North Meols, and claiming two vacant seats.
But there was plenty for Labour to shout about too, as it gained ground in its target wards, and polled more overall votes – 48.76% to the Tories’ 45.68%
This time around the Labour group believes it can pick up at least four seats, while the Conservatives are ready to defend the key battlegrounds.
Target seats for Labour include two Ormskirk seats.
Scott ward is one, where long-serving Conservative Cllr Cyril Ainscough, a former district council chairman, is standing down.
Labour's Kevin Wright will battle against Tory candidate Edward McCarthy – along with Lib-Dem Peter Banks and West Lancs Green Party spokesman Maurice Green – for the hotly-contested seat.
Departing Tory Cllr Peter Lea's Knowsley seat is another target, with George Oliver hoping to triumph over Tory David Meadows.
Both Burscough seats up for grabs are also expected to be closely contested, as is Up Holland ward.
Meanwhile former Labour group leader Cllr Neil Furey will be defending his Skelmersdale North seat against Tory hopeful Amanda Shaw.
POLLING stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.
You should have received a card with details of your local polling station.
If not, please call 01695 585018. Staff will give you ballot papers for the local elections at the polling stations.