South Tyneside Council elections: New Independent councillor wants to improve roads and 'reconnect with the youth' after claiming seat from Labour
The latest independent councillor elected to South Tyneside Council has pledged to increase transparency, improve roads and parking and “reconnect with the youth.”
Despite more than 20 independents standing across 18 wards last week, David was the only one to be elected on the night.
While admitting lessons could be learned from the wider performance of independents on polling day, he said his work on ward issues would be a priority.
This included making Primrose a better place to live for both young and old.
“I want to be approachable, transparent and certainly when we look at some of the issues, a lot of residents have issues with parking, the standards of housing and potholes,” he said.
“There’s also a lot of facilities gone and in this particular ward, the kids that you see around the parks, they’re sitting in there and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything for them to do anymore.
“I would certainly like to reconnect with the youth.
“The elderly have also lost a lot of facilities and these are big things that are a priority for me and hopefully we can bring some of those facilities back.”
South Tyneside’s Labour group lost four seats out of 20 contested at the local elections on May 6- with one independent gain, one Conservative gain and two Green party gains.
Newly elected councillor David Kennedy said the boost to the opposition was a “small step in the right direction.”
Looking forward, he added that he wanted to work with all political parties in the council chamber to achieve the best results for residents.
“I think that’s where the independents would benefit, going forward we have got to work with eachother, it’s the only way we’re going to get what we want for the borough,” he said.
“Yes I would stand with the South Tyneside Independent Alliance to form an opposition but on the whole, I’m a ward councillor.
“My intentions are to work in the best interests of the residents of the borough.”
In the 2019 local elections, Labour lost four council seats to independent candidates.
The council’s current independent alliance is made up of Primrose councillor Paul Milburn, Bede councillor Keith Roberts and Fellgate and Hedworth councillor John Robertson.
Councillor Milburn said discussions were ongoing about how the alliance would proceed.
“I think Dave [Kennedy] has been quite inspiring considering his work ethic and I’m really pleased with that and I’m looking forward to working with him to see what differences we can make,” he said.
“Obviously we have got a lot of talking to do first about how we want to proceed and how it feeds into the existing alliance.
“We might have to tweak that a little bit to suit another member but that is still up for discussion at the moment.
“But I’m looking forward to getting stuck into a few of the issues that we’re trying to deal with.”
Following the latest elections, South Tyneside Council’s overall make-up is 44 Labour councillors, five independents, three Greens, one Conservative and Cllr Jeff Milburn who is listed on the council’s website as an ‘Independent Conservative.’