Leigh’s MP James Grundy has given a timeline for his Lexit proposal which he hopes to be ready to put forward before the next general election. Lexit is the name given to the plan for Leigh’s exit from the Wigan borough.
Mr Grundy is a supporter of the separation from Wigan and even gathered support from Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in November 2021. Leigh has been part of the Wigan borough since the local government reorganization in 1974, but the grumblings about the town losing its identity to its larger neighbor since then have never gone away.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson promised to do ‘anything he can’ to help his Conservative colleague’s bid to ‘escape’ the control of Wigan following Mr Grundy’s question as to what could be done.
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The Leigh MP is currently in discussion with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities, over Lexit and has stated that the talks were positive – but in an early stage. “There has been a long standing feeling that Wigan Council does not care about the Leigh end of the borough,” Mr Grundy said.
“It has been going on for years before I got elected and I think there is some truth to it. The Government is actually in the mood to do a lot of local government reorganization at the moment and we are seeing this with two new local authorities in Somerset and Buckinghamshire for example.
“It will be interesting to see where we go with it. I don’t have any final answers yet but I did have a very interesting meeting with Michael Gove where we went back and forth over some of the issues. It is still at a fairly early stage and the Government is not saying no which is heartening.
“The fact they are willing to look and see whether it can be done is very heartening considering the direction of traffic. I am hoping to put a proposal on the table by the time of the next general election.”
Mr Grundy is finding that when he speaks to constituents he gets a very anti-Wigan Council sentiment, which is something the Local Democracy Reporting Service picked up when it asked a number of residents in the town center recently. Many of them felt like the council had no interest in Leigh and only saw it as a cash cow for housing developers.
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They believed that their Conservative MP was battling with a Labor controlled council – resulting in a lack of action in the area. This is something that could change with a split from Wigan.
A review of the ward boundaries of towns across England is currently underway, with the Boundary Commission set to make changes to which areas fall in MPs constituencies by 2023.
The new borough of Leigh, if the split were to happen, would likely consist of the Wigan Council wards currently known as: Astley Mosley Common, Atherleigh, Atherton, Golborne and Lowton West, Leigh East, Leigh South, Leigh West, Lowton East, and Tyldesley.