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Thursday, 28 May 2015

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Dawn of a new era for Barrow Borough Council

THE forthcoming Barrow Borough Council elections will be the last under the present system.

Every year a councillor from each of the 13 wards – comprising roughly a third of the council – comes up for re-election.

But this long-standing cycle will be scrapped next year and all-out elections will be held to determine the make-up of the council for the following four years.

Current council leader Jack Richardson says it will bring Barrow into line with many other councils and also make savings in the electoral process.

The Conservatives are currently the largest party on the 36-strong borough council with 16 seats, followed by Labour with eight, the Independents with five, Socialists People’s Party with four, borough council Independents with two and a sole Lib Dem Dom McCavish – the latter due to defend his Parkside seat.

John Millar is to defend Dalton South under the Conservative banner, having recently announced his switch from the Independents.

This leaves Councillor Eric Wood as sole borough council Independent and sole Barrow Island representative.

His ward is not included in this year’s elections, with 12 seats up for grabs with all the current councillors, except Tory councillor Phil Murray (Hindpool), standing again.

The others hoping to be re-elected, as well as Cllrs Millar and McCavish, are: Anthony Callister (Walney North); Alan Pemberton (Walney South); Rosemarie Hamezeian (Central); Sheila Begley (Ormsgill); Jeffrey Garnett (Risedale); Jack Richardson (Hawcoat); Philip Solloway (Newbarns); Rory McClure (Roosecote); and William Bleasdale (Dalton North).

Cllr Richardson told the Evening Mail the Conservatives will be looking to gain an overall majority rather than just be largest party.

He said: “Our main message over the last two years is that we have managed to keep council tax low.

“This is at the same time maintaining services and we hope to be able to continue in that theme.

“We have a few new candidates contesting an election for the first time and are fairly confident we will remain the largest party. We hope to make some gains as well.”

Cllr Richardson said the Tory administration could boast a number of achievements which have served the electorate since May 2008.

In reply to a question at a recent full council meeting by Labour leader Councillor Dave Pidduck, the Tory leader has produced a list of the following initiatives.

  • Love Barrow Campaign
  • Lakes Alive
  • Barrow Park five-a-side soccer centre (work to commence shortly)
  • Leisure Centre refurbishment
  • Forum 28 refurbishment and extension
  • Redevelopment of Askam Community Centre and transfer to community ownership
  • Phase Two Piel Island regeneration
  • Construction of new phase of factories at Forge Close
  • Refurbishment of The Mall
  • Refurbishment of 77/79 Duke Street now let to Barrow Vision
  • The establishment of Barrow Vision with partners
  • Free swimming for over 60s and under 16s, including Dalton
  • Establishment of a Health Improvement Officer in partnership with Cumbria NHS
  • Change to whole council elections from 2011
  • Successful implementation of the waste minimisation strategy and increased recycling
  • Successful lottery fund application and development of 104 Abbey Road as a cultural business centre
  • Barrow Town Link Road (due to open next month)
  • Demolition of Albert Street flats and replacement with new family social housing
  • Successful joint tendering of refuse collection and grounds maintenance contracts resulting in £1.25m of efficiency savings
  • New soft play area for disabled children at Park Leisure Centre
  • A programme of capital investment for energy efficiency in public buildings
  • Free access for pay to play for looked-after children
  • Support for retailers including: Open for Business; Empty shop windows initiative; and shop front gates scheme
  • Portable dance mat scheme for schools and clubs.

Cllr Pidduck responded to the list scathingly.

He said: “This is like something from the fantasy world of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

“It has come about from a year ago when I asked what projects they would be bringing in over the next year.

“The Tories are claiming things like the Link Road which they didn’t bring in and has been going on for years.

“They also forget that the Open for Business initiative for retailers was with £52,000 from the Labour Government as well as £30,000 from the council.”

The Labour leader said they would be fighting the borough elections on a number of issues including the lack of council apprenticeships.

He said: “We have been going on for the last two years about apprenticeships.

“We sit down with partners like Furness Enterprise and talk about joblessness but we should be leading the way.

“We have saved £169,000 by not filling vacancies and I was shocked at the last council meeting when I asked how many apprentices that would bring.

“The point is we should be training future Government officers not poaching from other councils.

“We also want to campaign on bringing back the concessionary bus fare scheme for pensioners before 9.30am.”

Labour is defending two seats (Walney North and Risedale) and contesting the other ten.

They have a mixture of old candidates such as John Murphy in Newbarns, where he was ousted as a county councillor, and relative newcomers such as Brendan Sweeney and Trevor Biggins.

Cllr Pidduck says Labour will be hoping to pick up seats such as the ‘lost’ one in Hindpool and could be helped by the local elections being on the same day as the general election, May 6.

He added: “It is traditional that Labour voters tend to come out for the general elections.

“Unfortunately it is not the following year that we have the all-out elections for the council.”

Have your say

brendan sweeney is so much more fun than his son!

Posted by tom sweeney on 6 May 2010 at 10:23

Transport for pensioners is something that should never be the plaything of politicians. We, older people, need a proper pension abd until this is achieved our bus passes are not playthings but essentials. When our concession was given and taken away by a Conservative administration would a New Labour council do the same?

Posted by Margie Arts on 21 April 2010 at 11:11

View all 5 comments on this article

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