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Monday, 15 September 2014

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Tories still in charge of Carlisle thanks to help from Lib Dems

Taking over:  Liz Mallinson makes the declaration of acceptance of office as mayor of Carlisle at the Civic Centre

By Julian Whittle

Political editor

THE Conservatives have held on to power at Carlisle City Council, thanks to the support of the Liberal Democrats.

Tory Mike Mitchelson was re-elected council leader at the annual council meeting on Monday while follow Conservative Liz Mallinson was installed as mayor.

But they needed the votes of all seven Liberal Democrats as Labour is now comfortably the largest party, with 25 of the 52 councillors.

In return, Morton Lib Dem Peter Farmer has been drafted on to the ruling executive, ushering in a new era of power sharing with the Tories.

The move has incensed Labour who say the Lib Dems misled voters in the run up to the May 3 election.

Labour leader Michael Boaden said: “I am dismayed that the Lib Dems have once again supported the tired and failing leadership of the Tories. The city will continue to be led in an ill-focused and lacklustre way.”

He challenged Mr Farmer to resign and fight a by election.

But Lib Dem leader Trevor Allison insisted there was no formal alliance with the Conservatives.

He said: “The consensus on our group has been to support the Conservatives on an informal basis.

“But with the unitary authority and Carlisle Renaissance before us, this is a crucially-important time.

“We have taken the view that we will have more influence from the inside.”

The Conservatives have run Carlisle City Council since 1999 but have needed Lib Dem backing since they lost outright control in 2003.

In return or that support, the mayoralty has alternated between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. Mr Farmer stood down as mayor on Monday.

His successor, Liz Mallinson, beat Labour’s Mary Styth by a single vote.

The vote would have been a tie had not Labour’s John Reardon missed the meeting to attend an interview.

Mrs Mallinson said: “I came up here from Cambridge in 1973 and never in my wildest imagination expected to be standing here as mayor.

“It’s an honour. I follow a long line of distinguished mayors in this city.”

Mrs Mallinson survived open heart surgery at 13.

After moving to Carlisle, she worked as an environmental protection officer at RAF 14MU in Carlisle where she was an active trade unionist and a prime mover in the campaign to keep the base open.

She has been a city councillor since 1991 and also sits on Cumbria County Council.

She is married to John Mallinson, who is also a city councillor, and has two children from her first marriage, two step children and two grandchildren.

Councillors paid tribute to Mr Farmer whose year in office began in a wheelchair following a knee operation.

Despite that setback, he attended 300 functions and raised £15,000 for charity.

Conservative Jacqui Geddes was elected deputy mayor.

The new executive line up is: Mike Mitchelson (leader/promoting Carlisle); Ray Bloxham (deputy leader/environment and infrastructure); Ray Knapton (community engagement); Marilyn Bowman (economic development); John Mallinson (finance and performance); Judith Prest (health and wellbeing); Peter Farmer (learning and development).

Nostalgia: Life, page 36

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