Supporters of Newcastle’s local independent party have today celebrated the first anniversary of the organisation’s launch. The Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party promised to always put local people before politics and its leader Jason Smith believes it has been successful in giving a voice to local people.
The party’s achievements include a strong showing in elections held during the year including pushing Lib Dems into fourth place in a ward where they held all three seats up until 2009 and polled more than 50% of the vote as recently as 2008. Newcastle First was the first party in the city to take a stand against Labour’s plans to build thousands of new houses on the greenbelt and secured an extension to the consultation on the plans after its leader took the fight to the council chamber.
In a message to supporters, Party Leader Jason Smith said: “We said a year ago that we love Newcastle and we want to take our city back from the party politicians. We started with no money, a serious lack of balanced media coverage and a few committed volunteers with the aim of taking on the Conservative and Labour Parties with their vast resources and Lib Dems who require each of their councillors to pay a tithe to fund election campaigns.
“We are committed to fighting for Newcastle residents and to take on the vested interests. We do not have paid staff so local people know that every one of our campaigners work hard and give their time freely for the benefit of the local community.
“Our ambition for Newcastle is unlimited and I am proud of what we have achieved in our first 12 months. We need to attract more people to join our movement for change so together we can bring about the change Newcastle is crying out for.”
The Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party has also urged its supporters to get behind the campaign to create a People’s Mayor to run the city.
Jason added: “In May, Newcastle will be asked to give its verdict on 12 months of Labour rule. Under Labour, the council has become even less accountable than it was under the Lib Dems with some very unpopular decisions taken behind closed doors rather than in a public meeting.
“The referendum on whether Newcastle should adopt a directly elected mayor to run the city is a once in a generation opportunity to make a massive improvement to the running of the city. We are campaigning for a vote in favour as we believe it is more democratic for the leader of council to be elected by every voter in the city. The discredited system we have now where the council leader is elected by 78 politicians is one that enjoys the support of those who benefit the most from having power centred in their hands. The choice is simple: Newcastle can have a Politician’s Leader or a People’s Mayor.”