Six candidates prepare for by-elections following death of Dales councillor

John Blackie, pictured with children from Gayle and Hawes at the opening of a new play cabin.

Six candidates are preparing to go head-to-head in by-elections following the death of long-serving councillor John Blackie.

As the North Yorkshire County Council and Richmondshire District Council candidates have canvassed voters in recent weeks they have said popular issues raised on the doorstep have included the exodus of young people from the area and concerns for the future of communities.

Other concerns have included the environment, particularly following the recent flooding which hit Arkengarthdale, Swaledale and Wensleydale.

Liberal Democrat Simon Crosby, Kevin Foster of the Green Party, Conservative Yvonne Peacock and Independent candidate Jill McMullon will contest North Yorkshire County Council’s Upper Dales division in a vote on October 17.

Ms McMullon will also be competing for her late partner’s seat as Hawes, High Abbotside and Upper Swaledale member on Richmondshire District Council, against Conservative Pat Kirkbride and Liberal Democrat Margaret Lowndes.

The last Upper Dales division election saw a 53 per cent turnout and Indepedent member and former Cllr Blackie secure 800 votes more than the next candidate.

Businesswoman Yvonne Peacock is a former Richmondshire District Council leader and said as a life-long Dales resident she wanted to ensure residents could continue to live and work in the area.

She said: “My heart is in the Dales and if elected I will be working hard to ensure people can afford housing, can get good jobs, there is quality care for older people, better mobile and broadband connections and schools are kept open.”

Education consultant Mr Crosby, of Aysgarth, said he was particularly interested in school and transport issues. He said: “I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2016 because it became increasingly obvious that reasonable folk need to reclaim politics. The Lib Dems are the only common sense party and I want to be part of their strong track record in our community”.

Chef Mr Foster, who has lived in Richmondshire since 1981, is aiming to become the only Green Party councillor on the county council, following becoming the party’s first representative on Richmondshire District Council in May.

He said having taken action which saw Richmondshire declare a climate emergency he would strive to keep the Upper Dales beautiful and campaign for environmentally-friendly changes, such as heat pumps and solar panels.

Ms McMullon, who has served twice as chairman of the district council, volunteers as a Little White Bus driver and works in the community office. She said she wanted to continue the community-oriented work of Cllr Blackie.

She said: “John’s legacy is there for all to see with such things as the garage and community office and hopefully I have a chance to build upon his work.”

The district council election for the ward in May saw a 55 per cent turnout and Cllr Blackie won by 581 votes.

Former mental health occupational therapist Pat Kirkbride said as owner of The White Hart Hotel in Hawes she had seen how the “working population is squeezed into a very small amount of housing. She said: “It is all very well keeping the Dales beautiful, but we want a thriving community.”

Arkengarthdale resident Margaret Lowndes said if elected she would refuse to let climate change become a side issue and that the flash flooding that hit the area might not be a one-off. She said the Green Party would be well placed to help shape the urgent action needed.

1 Comment

  1. Keep Richmondshire Independent. Jill McMullon is without doubt the best person for the job!

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