FREE Saturday parking, a new youth base and a task force to boost retailers are among pre election pledges for the town centre unveiled by the Labour party as it seeks to grab voters’ attention.
The policies were revealed after a full list of candidates was published for the local elections, that take place on Thursday, May 22.
Sixteen seats will be contested but one of most intriguing tussles of the forthcoming local elections being fought out in the town centre.
The seat is currently held by Labour but there will be competition from candidates that include former Liberal Democrat John Beirne, representing UKIP, and Nancy Ashcroft, the former Conservative Windle councillor.
Lisa Preston will be defending the seat for Labour after councillor Carole Gill’s decision to step down.
Freda Brodie (Green) and Peter Clayton (BNP) completed the list of candidates for the town centre ward.
With the local vote coming on the same day as the European elections, UKIP will be hoping the timing may work to their advantage and in Beirne, an ex-mayor of St Helens and town centre hairdresser, have a candidate with significant profile.
The Liberal Democrats, Beirne’s former party, are not fielding a candidate in that ward.
Labour appear to be wary of UKIP’s threat, judging by a prominent advertising campaign it is mounting.
But the town centre is also an interesting election battleground given the plentiful stock of local issues – ranging from serious concerns over the closure of shops, to the costs of parking and bin collections, which the Labour run council has faced public criticism for and Beirne has seized upon.
Meanwhile, Nancy Ashcroft, a 73-year-old named Glamorous Gran 2013 from national magazine Yours last year, is being tipped to use her connections and experience to appeal to sections of the town centre community.
Her husband Wally, another who stepped away frontline politics, is vying to make a return in the Billinge ward.
In all 16 wards will be contested. The current make up of St Helens has Labour with 40 seats, the Lib Dems with 5 and Conservative 3, meaning it would be long odds on the ruling party losing its majority.