New Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader slams elected mayor plan

THE new leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council has slammed the idea of an elected mayor as a “total and utter waste of money.”

Stephen Ames will be taking over from Barry Coleman as leader in May when Mr Coleman steps down to become the civic mayor after 11 years.

He said elected mayors were more appropriate for unitary authorities rather than the borough’s two tier system because the former would give the mayor more powers.

However, he recognised 3,500 people had signed a petition calling for a referendum giving residents the chance to decide whether they would like an elected mayor.

“It is a total and utter waste of money for Great Yarmouth.

“But equally I recognise it is the democratic right of those 3,500 people to ask for a referendum and I certainly would be putting all my energies into a NO campaign against an elected mayor,” Mr Ames said.

The referendum will go ahead on May 5 after Yarmouth councillors made a U-turn on a decision to refuse the constitution for two weeks of public consultation – even though the petition had been successfully raised according to regulations.

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Mr Ames pledged to work with local businessmen during his time as leader to encourage economic development within the borough and promote jobs growth in the town.

He cited council initiatives such as Enterprise GY, which helps businesses start-up and develop, as the kind of scheme he intended to promote and he wanted to help the borough’s residents access the training they need to secure jobs.

This could be done by signposting services offering training or to pay for the courses to operate and Mr Ames added he wanted the borough to exploit the opportunities afforded by the offshore industry and encourage employers to invest in the borough.

“It is a tremendous honour to think that my colleagues have got the confidence in me, particularly as there were two of us going for the leadership role and either of us would have carried out the job particularly well,” Mr Ames said.

Born and bred in Lowestoft, he attended Roman Hill Primary School and Denes High School in Lowestoft before going on to become an accountant.

He left the area aged 20 and went on to work in various management positions at six holiday parks across the country, including Burnham-On-Sea, Newquay and West Wales.

Eighteen years ago he returned to the region from Somerset, settling down in Hopton where he had his first experience of being a councillor after being invited by a business colleague while working at a holiday park in the area. He was first elected to Bradwell South and Hopton ward approximately six years ago.

Married to Della with two grown up children, Elizabeth and William, he is manager of a holiday park and is also on the board of Seachange and the East Coast Revenue and Benefits Partnership.

Within the borough council, he is a cabinet member with responsibility for resources, and has spoken previously of the importance of positivity in politics.