Shropshire Star

Long-standing Shropshire councillor steps down from politics after election loss

A former councillor who has served in Telford & Wrekin for 32 years is quitting politics after losing his seat in last week’s local election.

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Former councillor Eric Carter has decided to step down from politics

Boundary changes ahead of the local authority elections resulted in two two-member wards being changed into four single-member positions in Newport.

Conservative councillor Eric Carter went head-to-head with Liberal Democrat Thomas Janke in the Newport South ward, with the latter being re-elected after gaining 103 more votes.

Along with being a county councillor. Mr Carter was chairman of the Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority and regularly attended meetings in London to discuss national fire service-related matters – but has had to relinquish that position.

Mr Carter said that the boundary changes had gone back to how they were when he was first elected on to Telford & Wrekin Council in 1991 – but the population of the constituencies was now very different.

“The big difference made to me in the south ward is over the last three or four years we’ve had an awful lot of new buildings taking place,” said Mr Carter.

“Most of that new build has been in my ward, a lot of it in Station Road and more recently in Audley Avenue.

“It’s a considerable amount of housing, maybe three or four hundred, when you’ve been a councillor for so many years with a lot of support.

“I’ve won by large amounts over recent years, winning lots of elections. These places didn’t exist, people who have known me for many years have always supported me.

“But the people now living in this new accommodation don’t really know me. I think that had a major impact. Now I’ve lost my seat, I’m finished, that’s it. I’m not going to come back; I’ve had a good run.”

Mr Carter said that he was ‘most disappointed’ by the low turnout of 38.15 per cent from the 2,050-strong electorate in the Newport South ward.

“I believe a lot of that was down to people who are traditional Conservative supporters who just felt that they didn’t want to vote,” he added.

"This came down to national policy. It was expected in a way because the way things were going with what the Government have been doing nationally, they haven’t helped us in any way, shape or form as a party.

“It was what got us out of office and it’s not something we could do a great deal about. We’re just local people and we carried the can.”

Losing his council seats means that Mr Carter has relinquished his role of Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority chairman, management committee and ‘various bodies’ in London which look at the fire service.

“I’ve been at the forefront of a lot of things,” Mr Carter added. “It was my vote that caused the Fire Brigade Union to call off their strike after a meeting in London.

“I got thanked by people across the country for the work I had done on that. It wasn’t recognised and you can’t put that into too much when you are campaigning.

“People don’t realise that if you’re not a councillor you can’t be on the fire authority. Since the election I’ve had so many people from the fire service, not just locally but nationally, expressing their regret that I’m no longer on that service. That disappoints me tremendously and I will miss it.”

Story by Local Democracy Reporter Ben Goddard