December 9 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, August 2, 2012
A HUMBLE town hall plaque stirred such strong feelings of anger in councillors that they warred for more than a decade.
Seeds for the conflict were sown when Labour chiefs scrapped the office of Great Yarmouth mayor in 1991.
After they lost control to the Tories at the turn of the millennium, Labour bosses decided they would like their chairmen to be honoured alongside past mayors in the town hall lobby.
But they were snubbed time and time again during the Conservatives’ 12 year spell in power, and the plaque issue was the cause of many furious arguments.
Labour regained control of the authority in May, and have now tackled an issue that has bothered them for more than a decade by erecting a small plaque at the town hall.
Trevor Wainwright, leader of the council, said: “From 2000 the Tories gained control until this year, and during that period we asked for a plaque to recognise the chairmen of the borough but the Conservative administration was having none of it.
“They may disagree with what we did at the time, but it’s part of the history of the borough that goes back hundreds of years and for us it was a very stupid stance.
“We wanted our children and grandchildren to know and now they can.”
A plaque had already been commissioned when Labour stalwart Cllr Michael Jeal was mayor in 2010.
And Cllr Wainwright insisted the only cost the plaque has incurred since they took power is getting somebody to attach it to the wall.
“It’s just a shame it’s taken this long to get here,” he added. “It was a very petty decision of the Conservative administration.”
He conceded he did not know why the past Labour administration neglected to add the names of chairmen to the lobby display while they were in power.
Ron Hanton, leader of the Conservative group, and shadow leader said he stood by the Conservative decision not to honour those who caused a decade without a mayor in Yarmouth.
But he said he would not be so “small-minded” as to take the plaque down when the Labour era in power comes to an end.
Cllr Hanton said: “There were some quite strong held views about the office of mayor going, so you can understand it fell on deaf ears when they wanted to put it up.
“We wouldn’t have put it up, but I do recall words to the effect that when you come into power you can do so if you wish.
“But we wouldn’t be small-minded enough to take something down that would be of historic importance.”
And in a jibe at the current administration he added: “Some of the people who did away with the mayor are still here in office.
“If they were honest, they would admit that it was in fact an error.
“They’ve got to live with the fact they took that office away.”