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Sunday, 28 December 2014

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Maryport councillor retires after 46 years service

When Bill Cameron saw the reaction of town councillors to flooding he felt he could do better himself and decided to stand for election.

Bill Cameron photo
Bill Cameron

He topped the poll for his town council ward in the 1967 election but now, after serving Maryport at both town and county level for 46 years, has decided it’s time to retire.

It was an experience while working as a coal man and picking up a colleague that triggered him to stand for election.

He said: “A gale had sprung up and I went to pick them up and Maryport was flooded.”

Mr Cameron, who represents the county’s Maryport West division on Allerdale, said that he managed to get his truck through the water and he helped with the clear up operation.

“We got back through the floods and my wife came across a piece of concrete that was holding a house up,” he added.

“I went elsewhere helping people. I went to Maryport Town Hall to see what was going to happen with people because all their houses were flooded.”

But, he said town councillors’ response was not good, recalling: “They were talking about themselves rather than the matter at hand. I thought; ‘I could do just as well as them. I am going to stand for the council’.”

The 86-year-old said that his work, as well as his involvement in rugby and wrestling, meant that he knew most people in the town but he still went out and knocked on every door to canvas votes.

“I started as an independent and it took them five years to find out I was in the Labour Party.

“I knocked on every door. That’s what is wrong with this election. There is nobody knocking on doors.”

He added that he felt it was important to be outspoken. He said: “You are fighting for people – it’s the people that put their X beside your name on the ballot paper.”

Mr Cameron, of Christian Street, said he had decided to stand down because of his age. He said: “It’s one of those things that comes to you. I have bad knees – probably through my dancing and being a coal man.”

He said his fellow councillors had been very complimentary, He was Christened Mr Maryport and they claimed his mantra was “you always work for the people”.

“I want to thank the people who have placed their trust in me. It has been my privilege to serve them,” he said.

Heather Bradley has represented residents in the Currock area since 1988 on Carlisle City Council, and at a county level since 2005, but admits that she never expected to be elected. She too is standing down from the county council.

The 69-year-old said: “I was fairly reluctant. Other people encouraged me and I suppose I felt at home with people in Currock.

“I grew up on a council estate in Dagenham and the Currock people were really nice and friendly. I knew I was fairly articulate and hoped to speak for those who felt they couldn’t speak up for themselves.

“I’ve always seen the councillor as being the link between the people of the city and the council – the council sometimes seems anonymous.”

Mrs Bradley, who lives on Blackwell Road, Currock said she was proud to have been part of the old Labour group, which she joined in 1988, which was responsible for setting up a law centre and bringing the university.

She first moved to Cumbria in 1978, buying a house with some land, with the aim of being self sufficient – echoing the popular TV show at the time, The Good Life. “That didn’t work out but I was fortunate enough to get back into teaching,” she said.

She taught at Brampton’s William Howard School, an art college, Carlisle College as well as the university.

In 2005 she put her name forward for the county council election. She said: “I said; ‘if you are stuck for someone to stand in Currock there is always me’.

“I was joking but my bluff was called and I ended up on the county council which I have found extremely interesting.”

She added that it was interesting to see the more “strategic role” of the county council as an authority. She said: “Take adult services, it should dovetail with housing, but that is a city council responsibility, and with health as well.

“I think the main role where we directly affect residents in Carlisle is through the area committee for the whole of Carlisle. It is cross party but it works extremely well.”

Mrs Bradley said she had been impressed with the way members had worked together and added: “If somebody needs something for their particular division then everybody will listen and work together.

“It’s not always possible to do it but they will listen and if it’s in the policy and there is budget available then they will do everything they can to help. What we are all doing is trying to work for the benefit of everyone.”

She said as well as wanting to spend time on other activities such as voluntary work, her main reason for standing down was family.

“I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren, who are three and six,” she said.

She said that she wanted to thank everybody in Currock who had supported her, as well as her fellow councillors.

Other councillors who will be standing down this week include Conservatives Fiona Robson in Yewdale, Carlisle, Ray Cole, the former policeman who was the old Cumbria Police Authority’s last chairman and represents Millom, former county cabinet member Oliver Pearson and current council leader Eddie Martin.

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