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Archive - Saturday, 18 March 2006

By-election victory seen as blow to demolition protest

ANTI-DEMOLITION protestors have suffered a damaging blow after a Labour candidate swept to victory in a Middlesbrough Council by-election.

Pervaz Khan secured 55 per cent of the votes in the ballot that campaigners hoped would demonstrate local residents' strong opposition to plans to demolish 37 streets in the Gresham area.

Middlesbrough Council is planning to pull down the housing as part of its ambitious multi-million pound scheme to regenerate the area, which is partially represented in the contested Middlehaven ward.

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Labour Party members were delighted with the success of their candidate in quelling the idea that the campaigners had widespread support across the community.

A victorious Mr Khan said: "This was an overwhelming result for Middlesbrough Council's policies on renewal and regeneration in the town centre.

"I'm a councillor who will represent all the residents of Middlehaven.

"Shortly, I will be announcing surgery times and methods of how people will be able to contact me."

The council has been accused of being undemocratic by the protestors since the plans were announced to demolish 1,500 terrace houses in the centre of the town.

Cath Rozevskis, who stood as an independent, came second in the ballot, polling 127 votes. Yesterday, she was unavailable for comment.

Councillor John McPartland, who also represents the Middlehaven ward and is Labour group chief whip, said: "If there was a massive opposition to the plans, as the campaigners claimed, this was an ideal opportunity for them to express their views, but they didn't."

He added: "I'm delighted that Pervaz has been elected as councillor. I know him to be a hard worker and will be an effective councillor who has strong ties to the town's Asian community."

The call for the by-election was the created by the removal from the authority of Labour councillor and former mayor Frank Gill, for not attending meetings.

The results of Thursday night's by-election were as follows: Mohammed Pervaz Khan, Labour, 283; Sajaad Zaffar Khan, Conservative, 58; Christopher Patrick McIntyre, Liberal Democrat, 49; Catherine Rozevskis, no affiliation, 127.