The emotional tug of the old county of Yorkshire put to the test in Yarm for Yorkshire poll

Yarm High Street

Yarm High Street

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

The people of Yarm today have the chance to vote on whether the town should abandon Teesside for Yorkshire. Chris Webber hears the arguments for and against

COUNCIL tax rates, plans to build hundreds of new homes, the introduction pay and display parking, and even the replacement of some High Street cobbles has all led to discontent in the well-to-do town of Yarm.

So upset were 18 people from the population of under 9,000 that they took advantage of a legal nicety at Yarm Town Council to force a £4,000 ballot on the town leaving Stockton Borough Council.

The vote on whether to leave Stockton and join neighbouring Hambleton District and North Yorkshire County Councils will be held today (Tuesday, May 27) between 4pm and 9pm - but will not be legally binding.

The idea is spreading, with the parish council of Thornaby, which also lies on the southern, Yorkshire side of the Tees, to agree to set up a steering group to look at the issue with the possibility of leaving Stockton council.

The Northern Echo:
FAVOURING A RETURN: Paul Smith, chairman of Yarm 4 Yorkshire

At nearby Nunthorpe, currently part of Middlesbrough Borough Council, an informal poll was actually held last year. The voters said ‘yes’ to the move although only 19 per cent of those eligible to vote actually did so.

MP for Yarm, Conservative James Wharton, has taken part in the debate, sending a letter seen by The Northern Echo urging supporters to take part and saying he was “frustrated” at what Stockton council has done.

His Labour parliamentary opponent, Louise Baldock, who grew up in Yarm, said she understands the emotional appeal of the old county, but said that in the end quality of services were more important.

Paul Smith, chairman of the Yarm 4 Yorkshire and former Conservative councillor for the town, said so many people in the, sometimes, better-heeled areas south of the Tees were wanted to join entirely Yorkshire councils.

“It’s our heritage, he said, “our history, it’s where we belong: in Yorkshire.

“Being in Hambleton council would give our people a greater chance to be heard. We’d be part of a council that has much more experience of managing market towns. Stockton says services are not as good and talk about the bin collection. Well, in fact there is a bin collection in Hambleton, it’s just that one week in two it’s for recycling, which will actually help the environment.”

Bob Cook, Labour leader of Stockton council, pointed out that the distance from Yarm to Stockton town centre was five miles, compared to a distance of 16 miles between Yarm and Northallerton, where Hambleton council is based.

“Local government is better delivered locally,” he said. “We deliver excellent services and our polls show a high level of satisfaction, 60-odd per cent.”

Coun Cook acknowledged there was upset at the introduction of pay and display parking on Yarm High Street, but said that in fact it was cheaper (first hour free, £1 for two hours after that) than Northallerton High Street (first half-hour free, 80p every hour after that), where charges are being introduced next month.

He also acknowledged that there was controversy of the replacement of historic cobbles by Yarm Town Hall but said the new paving had actually been well-received. Any other council would have to deal with the same planning rules for housing developments as Stockton, he added.

*Polling stations are at Levendale Primary School, Challoner House, Yarm Primary School, Yarm Library, Layfield Primary School. No polling cards have been issued and no postal votes taken.

Comments (6)

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11:53am Tue 27 May 14

ajlaird says...

I do think that some of the services offered by Stockton are good..... However... Being force fed changes that exclusively impact the Yarm against the wishes of the majority of residents / businesses, and that have been 'democratically?' pushed through by councillors who are in no way accountable to the Yarm electorate is why we're having this poll.....
Sadly It's a result of SBC not listening or acting with or for the people of Yarm.
Suggesting that SBC is the 'least worst' option compared to Northallerton over equally controversial parking & charges is not the issue.. The issue has always been a lack of freedom and democracy and a lack of say in how our town is being run..
Personally I would much prefer that more control be devolved to the town and managed democratically by the residents.. Much like the 'free schools' initiative by central government I think its time we saw some 'free towns'
That said a protest vote is a protest vote..!!
I do think that some of the services offered by Stockton are good..... However... Being force fed changes that exclusively impact the Yarm against the wishes of the majority of residents / businesses, and that have been 'democratically?' pushed through by councillors who are in no way accountable to the Yarm electorate is why we're having this poll..... Sadly It's a result of SBC not listening or acting with or for the people of Yarm. Suggesting that SBC is the 'least worst' option compared to Northallerton over equally controversial parking & charges is not the issue.. The issue has always been a lack of freedom and democracy and a lack of say in how our town is being run.. Personally I would much prefer that more control be devolved to the town and managed democratically by the residents.. Much like the 'free schools' initiative by central government I think its time we saw some 'free towns' That said a protest vote is a protest vote..!! ajlaird
  • Score: 11

12:26pm Tue 27 May 14

m-t-s! says...

Stockton Borough Council has consistently milked the residents of Yarm, and in more recent years those in Ingleby Barwick, and invested the money in other areas of the Borough. SBC sees both towns as cash cow, hence the significant numbers of housing they keep approving on green field sites. Lots of money taken form these thousands of residents and very little returned in the way of facilities.
I am astounded by the comments of the Labour Leader of Stockton Council, Bob Cook, when he says "We deliver excellent services and our polls show a high level of satisfaction, 60-odd per cent.” If the organisation I work for and its clients accepted that "60-odd per cent" was a high level of satisfaction, then quite simply we would not be able to survive.
It's time that SBC got in the real world and understood what they are really there for!
Stockton Borough Council has consistently milked the residents of Yarm, and in more recent years those in Ingleby Barwick, and invested the money in other areas of the Borough. SBC sees both towns as cash cow, hence the significant numbers of housing they keep approving on green field sites. Lots of money taken form these thousands of residents and very little returned in the way of facilities. I am astounded by the comments of the Labour Leader of Stockton Council, Bob Cook, when he says "We deliver excellent services and our polls show a high level of satisfaction, 60-odd per cent.” If the organisation I work for and its clients accepted that "60-odd per cent" was a high level of satisfaction, then quite simply we would not be able to survive. It's time that SBC got in the real world and understood what they are really there for! m-t-s!
  • Score: 10

12:30pm Tue 27 May 14

studio says...

The " well to do " people of Yarm will no doubt claim to be part of the Borough of Chelsea next!
The " well to do " people of Yarm will no doubt claim to be part of the Borough of Chelsea next! studio
  • Score: -3

1:20pm Tue 27 May 14

Jackaranda says...

Yarm, Cleveland, or Yarm, North Yorkshire. I know which address I'd prefer.
Yarm, Cleveland, or Yarm, North Yorkshire. I know which address I'd prefer. Jackaranda
  • Score: 8

11:00am Wed 28 May 14

alancycle says...

Good old Tories.Divide and conquer.

When they move I will thus refer to Yarm as East Ukraine.
Good old Tories.Divide and conquer. When they move I will thus refer to Yarm as East Ukraine. alancycle
  • Score: -3

5:36pm Wed 28 May 14

spragger says...

90% voted to join North Yorkshire & Hambleton Council
- What can it be about incompetent, spendthrift, socialist, Stockton Borough Council that would make them wish to go to Yorkshire?
90% voted to join North Yorkshire & Hambleton Council - What can it be about incompetent, spendthrift, socialist, Stockton Borough Council that would make them wish to go to Yorkshire? spragger
  • Score: 0

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