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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Tories on course to take Carlisle at next election

THE Conservatives are on course to win in Carlisle at the next General Election.

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Celebration: Successful Tory candidate for Yewdale Fiona Robson with council leader Mike Mitchelson

The Tories took two seats from Labour in the local elections on Thursday, strengthening their hold on power at Carlisle City Council.

And in the 13 wards contested that are in the Carlisle parliamentary constituency, the Conservatives polled 1,481 more votes than Labour.

Labour MP Eric Martlew had a majority of 5,695 at the last General Election in 2005.

These figures suggest that the Conservatives’ parliamentary candidate, John Stevenson, could become the city’s first Tory MP since 1964.

He said: “It’s a great result for us. We have eroded the Labour majority.

“It demonstrates that we can fight in the urban area of Carlisle and win, which is key to us having a chance at the next General Election.”

Mr Stevenson was comfortably re-elected as a city councillor for Stanwix Urban.

He will be joined on the council by Fiona Robson, the Save Our Lonsdale campaigner who won for the Conservatives in Yewdale.

She beat her Labour opponent, Steven Bowditch, by 42.

Mrs Robson said: “I wasn’t overly confident but I’m ecstatic because I worked flat out for the last six weeks.”

Mike Clarke, the Tory victor in Belle Vue, beat veteran Labour man Ian Stockdale.

He believes that the Government’s unpopularity helped the Conservative cause.

He said: “I thought it would be very close and I was hoping to edge it. I’m very pleased to get a majority of 62.”

Sixteen of the 52 council seats were up for election. The new composition of the council is: Conservative 21; Labour 21; Liberal Democrat 7; Independent 1; Vacant 2.

It remains hung, although the Conservatives are expected to continue in control with the support of the Liberal Democrats.

There was a scare for Labour group leader Michael Boaden who had his majority in Botcherby cut to 66.

He said: “National politics played a part in the way people voted but they were narrow victories for the Conservatives.

“They shouldn’t take that as a mandate for their policies.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Trevor Allison, who won by a single vote in Dalston in 2004, increased his majority to 223.

The Liberal Democrats also held the other wards they were defending – Morton and Castle.

Carlisle’s only Independent councillor, Bill Graham, was re-elected with a thumping majority in Hayton.

But three other Independents, and a solitary English Democrat, had no joy in breaking the stranglehold of the established parties.

The British National Party, which came second in Currock in 2007, repeated the feat and increased its share of the vote there to 28 per cent.

A total of 25,425 people voted on Thursday, 38.1 per cent of the electorate, up from 35.5 per cent last year.

The results should ensure that Conservative Mike Mitchelson is re-elected as council leader and Jacqui Geddes succeeds fellow Tory Liz Mallinson as mayor.

Two vacancies in Upperby ward should be filled by an election on June 12.

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