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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Independents swing mayor vote to Tories

THE Tories have the mayor and council leader of their choice – but only thanks to the support of the Independents.

Councillor Rory McClure narrowly beat off the challenge of Labour councillor John Murphy to become Mayor of Barrow by 18 votes to 16, with two abstentions.

And a similar voting pattern then saw Tory councillor Jack Richardson re-elected unopposed as borough council leader even though his party had fallen to second in the pecking order.

The recent local elections left Labour with the most seats (16) with the Conservatives down to 13, Independents four, Socialist Peoples Party two, and councillor Eric Wood as a sole borough independent.

But the two crucial votes at the council annual meeting in Barrow Town Hall yesterday saw all five Independents back the Conservatives with Peoples Party councillors Jim Hamezeian and Bill McEwan abstaining.

After the meeting, Councillor Mike Stephenson, leader of the Independents, told The Evening Mail it was not necessarily a foretaste of things to come.

He warned: “There has been no coalition, alliance or deal done.

“We are open to working with all the parties for the good of the borough.

“It may be on some issues that the Independent vote is divided as well.

“We met as a group and did agree on how we would vote on the Mayor and leader of the council.”

Mr Stephenson added that the personalities involved did play a factor in the decision.

Cllr Richardson nominated Cllr McClure – an auctioneer – who has been deputy mayor this year, a member for Roosecote ward since 2003 and chairman of planning for the last two years.

The new mayor said it was a privilege and great honour and thanked the voters, his wife, family, friends and colleagues.

Tory councillor Ray Guselli was duly elected as deputy mayor.

Labour leader Dave Pidduck had proposed Cllr Murphy, a former deputy mayor who has just been re-elected to the council, as mayor.

He praised the nominee as a “character” with a great love of Walney Island and local history.

Cllr Pidduck added: “Like a stick of rock, cut John in half and it will say Barrow-in-Furness.”

Councillor Ken Williams nominated Cllr Richardson – a former council housing officer – to continue as leader.

He added: “Jack Richardson puts principles before short-term political gain and has been tireless in his pursuit of investment for the borough.

“He generates confidence in the business community and our officers know he is someone they can count on.”

l Outgoing Mayor Councillor Dorothy Dawes congratulated Barrow AFC on their FA Trophy win on behalf of the whole council.

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