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It’s Time to Put Newcastle First

Published and promoted by Jason Smith on behalf of the Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party, both at 74 Falstone Avenue, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 7SG

The Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party, Newcastle’s only independent community based political party, has today announced that its leader has stood down. Jason Smith has led the party since it was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2011 and will be succeeded by Ernie Shorton.

Within weeks of its launch, the party fielded candidates in seven wards and, under Jason’s leadership, the party went on to stand candidates in half the wards in the city achieving second place in half of those wards. In parts of Newcastle, the party won more votes than the Conservatives and Lib Dems combined and despite having half the number of candidates came close to beating the Conservatives into third place citywide.

Jason said: “I will continue to play an active role in the city and in the independent movement in Newcastle, but the time is right for me to focus on other priorities in my life. The decision to stand down as leader of Newcastle First was a difficult one to take but I know that there will continue to be a strong voice of opposition to the Labour and Lib Dem controlled city council in Newcastle.

“It has been a real pleasure to work with a group of committed Geordies who have funded their own campaigns, given a voice to the silent majority and worked tirelessly on behalf of local people. I regret that it was not possible for us to reach out to all of the people who have given up voting completely and that we were starved of the oxygen of publicity in the two local elections in which we stood. Indeed, we seem to have had the worst of all worlds: prevented from being involved in TV debates as participants but our candidates not permitted to take part as part of the audience.”

Newly elected leader of Newcastle First Ernie Shorton said: “I have worked closely with Jason in different capacities since 2007. I was very sad to learn of his decision to stand down as leader and I wish him well. Jason will continue to support our campaigns for a better deal for the city.

“Newcastle First will be highlighting to local residents the dangers of High Speed Rail which means that Newcastle will have a second class railway system as well as a second class road system for many years to come. Newcastle would gain far more from receiving its share of the High Speed Rail funds to use improving our local infrastructure. Newcastle First will continue to campaign against the One Core Strategy and we will continue to argue that there are no “exceptional circumstances” to justify bulldozing the greenbelt. We will also highlight the dangers of uncontrolled immigration caused by the open borders within Europe. Newcastle First members will be campaigning for a referendum on the European question and, when it comes, we should encourage the country to vote to leave the EU.

“In the coming weeks, we intend to announce how we will strengthen our campaigning infrastructure across the city so we can continue to challenge the out of touch leadership in the civic centre.”