On the streets of Skelmersdale where 'rents have tripled, but not wages' ahead of May 2 elections

Skelmersdale is ready to go to the polls.

Across West Lancashire, elections are being held in 15 borough council wards with a vacancy for one councillor in each, except Tarleton Village where two councillors will be elected.

The polls will be open on May 2 from 7am until 10pm. And in Skelmersdale, residents will be voting on a range of well-documented issues. The town's lack of railway stop is a long-standing issue.

For years, residents have been begging for better rail links. Many say if you haven't got a car in Skelmersdale, you "may as well pack it in". But, after years of discussions and proposals, the town remains one of the biggest in the north west without a railway station.


Several recent high-profile crimes have also raised concerns over the number of local police officers.

As May local elections approach, people in Skelmersdale say the cost of homes to rent or buy, town centre changes, jobs, night-life and leisure, road repairs, bus services, the lack of a railway station and the number of local police officers are among the topics that matter to them.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service spoke to people in Skelmersdale to find out what issues were at the forefront of their minds when casting their vote.


Jordan Francis a chef in the Ormskirk area and Sandi Clegg is a West Lancashire College student.

Jordan said the May local elections will be the first opportunity he has had to vote. He said: "I would definitely say housing is a big issue. It's so expensive, especially for people looking for their first home. We are looking for our first flat together. But we looked at one house where it was £900 a month to rent. My own flat rent used to be £250 a month rent. Now it's tripled in price. But my wage has stayed exactly the same."

"Buses here are quite accessible and easy but I think the routes could be better. It would be good is Skelmersdale had a railway station.

"I think Skelmersdale has improved a bit with things like the new cinema at the Concourse. But at the moment, it's mainly shops an open areas. it could do with a bit more going on at night. There's not much to do. If we go out, we tend to go to Ormskirk and pubs like the Old Post Office."

Sandi too has never voted before. She was unsure if she'd vote or not. She said: "I'm studying plumbing, brick-laying and joinery. Three skills. I wanted to do something active and hands-on. It's good exercise too. I would like to run my own business, maybe.

"It can be hard to get a job around here. Employers want you to have experience but it's hard to get experience when you're young. Things can be hard for teenagers.


Freddie Hallam was picking up passengers outside the Concourse shopping centre. There was a steady stream of taxis and customers at the time when the Local Democracy Reporting Service visited.

Asked what he felt are the big issues, Freddie replied: "The potholes in the roads are horrendous. The roads are awful. Everywhere, the roads are knackered. The whole town."

On other topics, he said: "I do think West Lancashire Council has done quite a good job in the town centre, with the Concourse and other things between the library and college. We have the new cinema in the Concourse and I've been there a few times. I like it. But I think Skelmersdale needs more leisure facilities. That's the way things are going in town centres."


Stefan Simonov and Petyo Nasha are from Bulgaria but moved to Skelmersdale a few years ago. They were doing some shopping at the Concourse centre,

Stefan said: "I think Skelmersdale is a decent place. Houses are more affordable here than the big cities. It's better here than living in Manchester. But rent in Britain is expensive. I'm in a private rented house. It costs £750 a month.

"There are lots of factories in Skelmersdale to get work, if you want to upgrade yourself. Work and business are quite good here.

"You can work normally here. In Bulgaria there is a lot of corruption. It's very hard to set up a small business in Bulgaria. In the UK, it's easier - but you have to work here first. It's not like you just come here and get rich."

Regarding towns and and open spaces, he said: "The roads are terrible everywhere, especially the roundabouts. A lot of them are dangerous. I'd also like to see more seating and benches in Skelmersdale public places and parks. There are some benches in bigger parks but I don't see them in the smaller parks."

Petyo said: "People don't have much to do here at night. There are no night clubs in Skelmersdale. There are a few pubs but they close at 1am. Most other things are close-by for people but there's not much for leisure - fun things for adults. We go out for nights in Liverpool or Manchester. We get the bus. It would be nice if Skelmersdale had a railway station. That would be good for many people. If we get the bus to Liverpool, it can take hours."


Semi-retired resident Rod Smith said: "I'd say a big issue is the police. I believe there are only six regular officers for Skelmersdale, with two on each shift through the morning, the day and at night. People say it's not good enough.

"Motorbike scrambling in the Tawd Valley has being going on for years . You can hear the bikes from the town centre and the police station is nearby. It makes me wonder why the police, apparently, are not more pro-active?

"Skelmersdale had got a lot of good things going for it. But I'd say it's let-down by transport. We have not got a railway station or a hospital. Those were part of the new town plan back in the 1960s and '70s. Skelmersdale is a new town like Milton Keynes. But they are very different. I've been to Milton Keynes and it's had lots of money chucked at it over the years. Skelmersdale seems to be the forgotten town of the north-west.

"It could also do with more pubs or restaurants. The Old Toby was burned down a few years ago. It was a beautiful old building going back to the 1600s. In recent times, nobody seemed to use it much and the covid pandemic seemed to be the final straw. There is talk about putting flats there. I've had a few discussions with the council about it."

He added: "To be fair to the council, the new cinema is good. I haven't visited it myself but it can only be a good thing. We can't be negative about everything. There are positives happening too. "


Art college student Mia Taylor attends TMP College in Wigan, which specialises in media, music and games courses.

She said: "I'd like to see a really good skateboard park in Skelmersdale. The ones we have here are not the best. We go to one at Birch Green, which is the best in Skelmersdale. But it's not the best, the smoothest type. There's a good one in Chorley. The skate-parks made of pure concrete are the best.

"Skelmersdale has parks and playgrounds for younger kids. And there are mountain bike tracks on the Tawd Valley. But those are too muddy for skateboarding. But it needs a bit more for older kids. The new cinema is good. I've been there and it's nice. But if I go out with friends, we tend to go to Liverpool. We get the bus to Ormskirk and then a train to Liverpool. It'd be good to get a train station in Skelmersdale."