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The battle for local issues

PUBLISHED: 15:58 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:02 03 July 2010

MICK Castle will lead Labour's comeback battle after the party lost two borough council seats last week, including that of leader Trevor Wainwright.

Councillor Castle, who represents Central and Northgate ward, was voted in as the new leader at the Labour group's annual meeting on Wednesday night, which also saw Magdalen councillor Brian Walker elected as deputy leader.

MICK Castle will lead Labour's comeback battle after the party lost two borough council seats last week, including that of leader Trevor Wainwright.

Councillor Castle, who represents Central and Northgate ward, was voted in as the new leader at the Labour group's annual meeting on Wednesday night, which also saw Magdalen councillor Brian Walker elected as deputy leader.

Mr Castle, who was leader of the group between 2004 and 2006, blamed national issues for Labour's losses in Bradwell North and Magdalen, with the Tories taking both seats.

Yesterday, Mr Castle said the Labour party would fight back and continue to work hard on local issues, including the controversial “Yartoft” unitary authority scheme, which would see councils in Yarmouth and Lowestoft join together as part of a review of local government.

He said: “At the moment we are focused on preparing the bid for Yartoft and hope this option goes forward. We also have an agenda in Yarmouth and Gorleston with parking problems and the Marina Centre.”

Mr Castle said the party would challenge the ruling Tory group over plans to redevelop the Marina Centre site on the seafront - insisting that the facilities, including the public swimming pool, should be replaced prior to any redevelopment.

Magdalen councillor Karen Hewitt will head Labour's Gorleston liaison committee.

Meanwhile, fewer voters than ever before took the chance to have their say on who makes decisions about wheelie bins, dog mess, and planning applications in the borough, the numbers of people visiting the ballot box dropping yet again.

Just 30pc of people eligible to vote ticked the ballot paper to make their vote count in last Thursday's elections.

Thumb twiddling was the order of the day for polling station staff at Beatty Road in north Yarmouth which had just 277 voters walk through the door. Last year just over 31pc of people voted, a slight increase on 2006 which saw 30.74 people vote.

And at the election count at the town hall last Thursday evening there was criticism from local councillors to those people who had not bothered to vote.

Councillor Michael Jeal was re-elected to Nelson ward which had a poor turnout out of 19.30pc - meaning just 1,081 people voted out of a possible 5,601.

Mr Jeal said: “I'm always disappointed when there is a low turnout, it's not good. There are lots of places in the world where people do not get a vote. If people do not vote then they do not have a right to moan.”

Residents living in the East Flegg ward which covers Martham were the most active with 36.43pc of people voting. The seat was held by leader of the borough council, Tory Barry Coleman.

In total, 17,269 people voted in the elections out of a possible 57,541.

In Hopton, residents cast two votes - one for the borough council and again for the parish council. Nine people will take up their seats as councillors - John Tonks failing to secure enough votes and Stephen Ford and James Walker resigned from the parish council after the deadline for election nominations last month.

The results were:

Hopton Parish Council

Mike Butcher 320

Sidney Constable 375

Stephen Ford 360

Kenneth Hicks 373

Brian Howard 344

Howard Shepherdson 337

John Tonks 285

James Walker 331

Lilian Walker 339

Victor White 317

Julie Woods 333

w For the full borough council election round up, results and pictures turn to pages 30 and 31.


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