History looks set to be made when Barrow voters go to the polls in two crunch by-elections on Thursday, May 6.
The ballots in Hindpool and Roosecote could theoretically signal the end of a political era because ongoing plans to reform local authorities may result in the re-drawing of electoral wards.
It will also be the first time local voters will plump for their favoured candidates during a global pandemic. Labour’s two election candidates have pledged to battle for cleaner streets and to work alongside residents in their respective wards if they are elected to serve on Barrow Borough Council
Former Barrow council housing officer Joanne Tyson is standing in the traditional Labour stronghold of Hindpool while Holbeck-based community activist Paul Griffiths is campaigning in his own back yard of Roosecote.
Mrs Tyson said: “We need councillors who will actively work within our community and not just vote on town hall committees.
“As a former housing department officer I worked directly with tenants’, residents’ and community groups on a range of issues so I have first-hand experience of the various issues facing our Hindpool community.
“Making the streets cleaner and working for improved community safety including cracking down on reckless motorists will be a priority and if elected I will be a strong voice for the people of Hindpool.”
Mr Griffiths said: “Improvements in tackling litter are being made through the council’s new strategy, but there is more to be done. Council tax payers deserve clean streets and if elected that is something I will push for.”
The factory electrician, who lives on the Holbeck estate, has pioneered the Roosecote Community Hub.
It was originally set up as an online group to support isolated residents during the Covid-19 emergency, but it has grown into a thriving community asset.
Mr Griffiths added: “Councillors have a role to play supporting communities beyond voting in the town hall. We need to listen to people, support local groups and be prepared to work with partners for our community.
“The Roosecote Community Hub has collectively done so much good work to date and I hope, if elected as councillor, we can all build on those foundations.
“Five generations of my family have lived in this area.
“I have lived here for more than 50 years and I hope to use my knowledge of the area to help our community going forward.”
Covid restrictions have delayed the by-elections.
The Roosecote ballot was triggered by the January 2020 death of former Barrow mayor and Conservative councillor Rory McClure who held the seat for 15 years.
The Hindpool vacancy was created following the resignation of long-serving councillor Dave Pidduck who withdrew from the local political stage in August of the same year, citing a dislike of virtual meetings.
Barrow Labour stalwart Brendan Sweeney said: “Joanne and Paul are really good candidates with a lot of experience in the community and they will make excellent councillors.
“Voting is a precious right that people fought hard to win, and like all elections this is a chance for the public to express its opinion.
“I urge people to turn out to vote on May 6, and for those with postal votes to get them back to the town hall straight away.”