Tories oust Callow as leader

Councillor Peter Callow

Councillor Peter Callow

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BLACKPOOL Conservatives have a new leader after party members voted out Coun Peter Callow.

The news comes after the Tories were beaten in Thursday’s local council election which saw the Labour group gain the majority of seats and put Coun Simon Blackburn into power in the authority.

Coun Callow, who had been leader for 13 years, said he had not attempted to gain last night’s party vote to maintain his leadership, but had left it up to members to decide whether they wanted him to continue.

He added: “We lost the election but I don’t think I’ve got anything to be ashamed of. I’m very proud of some of the things we’ve done and I’ve got to thank a lot of the party members for the work they did to achieve those things.

“Maybe I should have stepped down after the election and I don’t want to criticise any of the members of my own party for the decision they have taken.

“I didn’t canvas or go trying to drum up support ahead of the vote.

“I was thinking what a relief it might be to lead a normal life. What I want to do now is step back a bit over the summer then come back recharged and ready to fight again for what’s best for the people of Blackpool.”

New Conservative leader Coun Peter Evans (right) has vowed to take the fight to the ruling party and ensure they stick to what they have promised the people of Blackpool.

He told The Gazette: “We have to get ourselves together and make sure if the Labour Party stray from their manifesto we pick them up on it.

“We lost some good people in the election but hope they will stay around and be out there in the community and ready to take those seats back when the next election comes.

“The national situation with cutbacks didn’t help us (in the election) but the state of the Promenade has been a big problem.

“When it is done it will be fantastic but I work in the town centre and it has been clogged up which I think had a real affect.”

Coun Evans, a member for Stanley Ward, was voted in as new leader during a meeting of Blackpool’s Conservative Association last night. Anchorsholme Ward councillor Tony Williams will act as his deputy.

Outgoing leader Coun Callow, of Norbreck Ward, said he was proud of the work he had done, supported by his wife Coun Maxine Callow.

But he said the £27m cutbacks the council had to make after the Conservative Government pulled funding for the authority had seen a lot of people turn away from the party.

He added: “It might sound like a cliche to say it but I really believe in the last four years in control we have turned Blackpool back into a family resort.

“The Conservative Party was always down the list for me, I’m from Blackpool and always wanted to do what was best for the town.”