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New Carlisle council leader's pledge to city

The man about to become leader of Carlisle City Council has pledged to keep the streets clean and to cut youth unemployment.

New city councillors photo
From left, Leslie Tickner, Elsie Martlew, Elaine Stevenson and Karen Gallagher with Labour leader Joe Hendry, centre

Related: Labour triumphs in Carlisle council elections

Labour’s Joe Hendry is set to replace Conservative Mike Mitchelson after Labour made four gains in Thursday’s elections, ending 13 years of Tory control.

Labour took Liberal Democrat seats in Castle and Morton and ousted Conservatives in Belle Vue and Yewdale.

It now has 27 of the 52 council seats, giving it an overall majority for the first time since 1999.

Dr Hendry said: “I’m delighted for Carlisle, as well as for the Labour Party, that we are back in power.

“Our first priority is to get the streets clean.

“The second is to work with everyone, including the private and voluntary sectors, to create jobs for young people.

“It is important that our young people get a chance.”

Mr Mitchelson described the result as “hugely disappointing”.

He said: “You often get a mid-term protest vote against the government of the day.

“Some don’t vote and others vote against the government to make a point.

“We will come back.”

The Conservatives now have 20 councillors, the Liberal Democrats two and there are two Independents.

One seat in Harraby remains vacant following the death of Labour councillor Dave Weedall last month. Labour is certain to retain it when a by-election is held.

The result is a boost for Labour’s hopes of regaining the Carlisle parliamentary seat lost in 2010.

It polled 11,582 votes in the 16 wards it contested, 4,530 votes more than the Conservatives managed across all 17 of the wards going to poll.

But MP John Stevenson is confident that Conservative fortunes will recover.

He said: “Quite often in local elections people express a view on how national government is doing.

“We saw that when Labour was in government and we are seeing it now.

“The Government has a very difficult economic situation to deal with but the processes we have put in place will bear fruit.”

If it was a bad night for the Conservatives, it was worse for the Liberal Democrats.

Their vote collapsed in the former strongholds of Morton and Castle. In Harraby they finished last, behind the Greens and the UK Independence Party.

The one bright spot was Dalston where sitting Lib Dem councillor Trevor Allison increased his majority.

Mr Allison said: “It was obviously a bad night for us, but I take encouragement from my own result. I’ve set my stall out as a hard-working councillor focusing on people and issues.”

Mr Allison believes his party’s poor showing was due to the loss of long-serving councillors, through death or retirement, rather than a backlash against the coalition Government.

Labour’s victor in Castle was Elsie Martlew, wife of former MP Eric.

Its candidate in Yewdale, Karen Gallagher, not only won the seat from the Conservatives but amassed 1,222 votes – more than any candidate in any ward. At 33 years of age, she becomes the youngest councillor.

Miss Gallagher said: “I’m still shocked. I’m shaking. It’s a big responsibility and I’m looking forward to it.”

Fiona Robson, the defeated Conservative in Yewdale, felt national issues were to blame. She said: “Things like Europe were coming up, over which we as councillors have no influence. Nobody brought up the council and its record.”

A third of the council’s seats were up for election.

Voter turnout was 33.9 per cent, down from 38.1 per cent when these seats were last contested in 2008.

The Carlisle result mirrored the national picture.

Labour took control of authorities including Birmingham, Derby, Reading and Southampton. The only other Cumbrian council to hold elections was South Lakeland where the Lib Dems retained control.

Have your say

You heard it here first: Airport application *delayed* again.

Posted by Pete on 25 May 2012 at 09:34

Airport to be refused planning application by new council, recommendation to turn down at the committee.

Posted by Pete on 24 May 2012 at 13:33

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