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The Metropolitan Borough of Wigan is a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchestermarker, in North West England. It is named after its largest component town, Wiganmarker and also includes the towns of Leighmarker, Ashton-in-Makerfieldmarker, Ince-in-Makerfieldmarker, and Hindleymarker. The borough was formed in 1974 and is an amalgamation of several former local government districts and parishes. The borough has three civil parishes and lies directly to the west of the City of Salfordmarker and southwest of the Metropolitan Borough of Boltonmarker.


The borough is the most north western in Greater Manchester. Within Greater Manchester, it borders the Metropolitan Borough of Boltonmarker to the north-east and east, and the City of Salfordmarker to the east. Outwith Greater Manchester, in the south it borders Warringtonmarker (a unitary authority in Cheshiremarker); to the south-west it borders the Metropolitan Borough of St Helensmarker in Merseyside. To the west it borders the West Lancashiremarker district, and to the north it borders the Chorleymarker borough, both in Lancashiremarker.


The metropolitan borough was created on 1 April, 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. It was formed from the former county borough of Wigan along with following existing local government units from the administrative county of Lancashire :

Wigan Metropolitan Borough's new coat of arms is based on various elements from the arms of the predecessor districts.

Prior to its creation, the name Wigan-Leigh was used in the Redcliffe-Maud Report. It was then suggested that the new metropolitan borough be named Makerfield (with reference to Makerfieldmarker). However both names were rejected for Wigan, by a vote of 12 to 2.

From 1974, local government was under a two-tier system, with Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council covering most functions, and the Greater Manchester County Council. The county council was abolished in 1986 by the Local Government Act 1985.

The population of the borough has stayed roughly static since the 1970s at around 300,000.



Four parliamentary constituencies cover the borough: Wiganmarker, Makerfieldmarker, Leighmarker, and Worsleymarker. Worsley also covers parts of Salford. New constituencies boundaries recommended by the Boundary Commission will see the link to Salford broken, and part of the borough (the Atherton ward) included in the Bolton Westmarker constituency. All four seats are considered safe seats for the Labour Party, and they or predecessors have returned Labour members consistently since the Second World War. Makerfield is the only constituency to have returned Labour MPs continuously since 1906.

Local government

The first elections to the borough council were held on 10 May 1973. Each ward has three councillors, and elections are by third, with one councillor from each ward up for re-election in each election year. The 2004 election was for all seats, as ward boundaries had changed. The next elections are planned for 2007.

The borough council has a leader and cabinet system. The current leader is Peter Smith, who also sits in the House of Lordsmarker as a Labour Party life peer, under the title Lord Smith of Leigh. He first became leader in 1991.. The council rejected the idea of a directly-elected mayor following a consultation in 2001.

The Metropolitan Borough of Wigan is traditionally a Labour stronghold - the council has been Labour Party-controlled since its creation. The local elections in 1998 resulted in a council with only 2 non-Labour members.

Labour have a majority with 43 seats as of the 2006 election. The second largest party on the council is the local Community Action Party, also active in St Helens and Warrington, which had 15 seats. Community Action first contested Wigan elections in 2002, and won 18 seats in the 2004 election following the re-warding - their councilors are for wards in the middle of the borough, between Wigan and Leigh. The Conservative Party has nine seats, and the Liberal Democrats eight.

The council uses Wigan Town Hall as its main headquarters. Leigh Town Hall is used as a secondary base.


The borough is divided into 25 electoral wards, each of which elect three councillors. The present wards were adopted in 2003, following a review by the Boundary Commission : the previous review took place in 1979. The borough was formerly divided in 24 wards. The wards are as follows:

The previous wards were

  • Abram
  • Ashton-Golborne
  • Aspull-Standish
  • Atherton
  • Astley
  • Beech Hill
  • Bryn
  • Hindley Green
  • Hindley
  • Hindsford
  • Hope Carr
  • Ince
  • Langtree
  • Leigh Central
  • Leigh East
  • Lightshaw
  • Newtown
  • Norley
  • Orrell
  • Swinley
  • Tyldesley East
  • Whelleymarker
  • Winstanley
  • Worsley Mesnes

Settlements and subdivisions

Component areas of the borough include Wigan itself, Abram, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Aspull, Astley, Atherton, Bryn, Golborne, Haigh, Higher End, Hindley, Ince-in-Makerfield, Leigh, Lowton, Orrell, Platt Bridgemarker, Standish, Shevington and Tyldesley.

The ONS identify a Wigan Urban Areamarker as being the west of the district, including Skelmersdale and Upholland in West Lancashiremarker, with a population of 166,840. It considers towns in the east of the borough to be part of the Greater Manchester Urban Areamarker. Ashton-in-Makerfield, Aspull, Golborne and Shevington are identified as standalone urban areas.


The borough has three civil parishes: Haigh, Shevington and Worthington. The rest of the borough is an unparished area. Turning to ecclesiastical parishes, the Wigan Deanery Parishes are under the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpoolmarker, although parishes in the east section of the Metropolitan Borough are under the Diocese of Manchester and the northern section under the Diocese of Blackburnmarker.


Wigan Council has divided the borough into ten areas by the name of townships, with a Township Manager and a Township Forum each.. The townships are as follows:

Township Wards
Ashton-in-Makerfield / Bryn Ashton; Bryn
Atherton Atherton
Hindley / Abram Abram; Hindley; Hindley Green
Leigh Atherleigh; Leigh North; Leigh South; Leigh West
Lowton / Golborne Golborne and Lowton West; Lowton East
Orrell / Higher End / Winstanley Orrell; Winstanley; Billinge Higher End
Standish / Aspull / Shevington Aspull-New Springs-Whelley; Shevington with Lower Ground; Standish with Langtree
Tyldesley / Astley Astley-Mosley Common; Tyldesley
Wigan North Ince; Wigan Central; Wigan West
Wigan South Douglas; Pemberton; Worsley Mesnes


With a population of around 300,000, Wigan is the second most populous borough of Greater Manchester, after Manchestermarker itself. It also has one of the lowest non-white populations, with the 2001 census reporting 98.7% of the population as white. Unemployment is around average for England and Wales. 9.5% of the population is "permanently sick or disabled" compared to an average of 5.5%.

Population change

The table below details the population change since 1801, including the percentage change since the last available census data. Although the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan has only existed 1974, figures have been generated by combining data from the towns, villages, and civil parishes that would later be constituent parts of the borough.

Population growth in Wigan since 1801
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 41,413 50,464 60,760 69,400 78,349 93,271 120,001 146,732 173,462 212,665 239,399 269,503 267,754 266,040 266,436 266,839 284,309 302,929 307,721 310,866 301,415
% change +21.9 +20.4 +14.2 +12.9 +19.0 +28.7 +22.3 +18.2 +22.6 +12.6 +12.6 −0.6 −0.6 +0.1 +0.2 +6.5 +6.5 +1.6 +1.0 −3.0
Source: Vision of Britain


Crime in the borough has continued to fall in recent years, and is now statistically the safest borough in Greater Manchester.


According to an opinion poll, 26% of 299 residents surveyed felt they belonged "very strongly" or "fairly strongly" (4% very strongly) to Greater Manchester, 64% (28% very strongly) to the borough of Wigan, and 63% (31% very strongly) to Lancashire.


Several railway lines cross the borough. Wigan Wallgate railway stationmarker is served by trains to Southportmarker, Kirkbymarker, Manchester Victoriamarker and Rochdalemarker. Wigan North Western railway stationmarker is located on the West Coast Main Linemarker and trains run from there to Liverpool Lime Streetmarker and Blackpool Northmarker.

Other stations are Athertonmarker, Brynmarker (Ashton in Makerfield), Gathurstmarker (Shevington), Hindleymarker, Ince, Orrellmarker, and Pembertonmarker. There is also a long running campaign for Golborne railway station to be re-opened.

Leigh is the largest town in the UK whitout a railway station. One station, on the Bolton and Leigh Railway, closed in 1954. The second, on a loop of the Manchester to Wigan Line was closed in 1969.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canalmarker passes through the borough, as does the M6 motorway, which runs through the west of the borough, and serves Ashton-in-Makerfield (junctions 23 and 24 (north only) and 25 (south only)), Wigan 25 (south only), Wigan and Orrell (26) and Standish (27). The M58 motorway, to northern Liverpoolmarker, terminates at junction 26 of the M6 (Orrell). The A580 (East Lancashire Road), Liverpool to Manchester link, passes through the south of the borough.


Wigan was twinned with Angersmarker in France in 1988.

See also



  1. .
  2. Retrieved on 20 December 2008.


External links

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