Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Elaine Woodburn will not enter race to be Copeland's elected mayor

Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn will not enter the race to become the borough’s first elected mayor.

Elaine Woodburn photo
Elaine Woodburn

Miss Woodburn says she doesn’t believe in placing all decision-making powers into the hands of one person.

Carla Arrighi, from the Time for Change campaign group, who led calls for a referendum on an elected mayor for Copeland, has also ruled herself out of the running.

She believes there are “better candidates” than her and instead thinks Labour councillors Allan Holliday, Gillian Troughton, and Tim Knowles are the names currently in the frame.

More than 12,600 people opted for an elected mayor to replace the position of council leader – currently held by Miss Woodburn – following a landslide vote in Thursday’s historic referendum.

The holder of the position will assume the key decision-making power previously held by Miss Woodburn and her five-member executive committee, all of whom will revert to being regular ward councillors.

However, Miss Woodburn believes decision-making powers should be held by the electorate.

“I have always held this belief so it would be hypocritical to stand for the position,” she said.

“What I will be doing is working to help elect the Labour candidate, whoever that may be.”

She added that it was important people could now choose from “strong, local candidates” who understood Copeland and the pressures the area faced.

Miss Woodburn also insisted she would not shirk the responsibility of running the authority in the face of huge cuts in funding from central Government.

She said: “We have restructured and re-prioritised and I believe that the strategy we have put in place with the development of Albion Square, the Beacon, new hospital and nuclear new build provide a positive base for the new mayor to build on.”

Meanwhile, Ms Arrighi, a Whitehaven restaurant and takeaway owner, says her and her fellow campaigners’ work is now done.

“We got the referendum and if a candidate comes forward who we feel is the right person we will endorse them,” she said. “But none of the Time for Change group, including myself, will be standing. I will look to stand as a councillor in Copeland next year instead.

“I think there are better people out there. I have a full-time job and don’t think it would be fair to do both.”

Ms Arrighi believes the ideal candidate would be a local person with good business acumen and a passion for the area.

“I don’t agree with party politics and that’s what has been happening for years,” she added. “People vote for the party that their mothers or fathers or grandparents have always voted for and we have now broken that cycle.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed has written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles asking for the mayoral election, which should be held in October, to be postponed to tie in with next year’s general election.


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