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Monkey man backs Yarmouth mayor campaign

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:55 06 July 2010

Yarmouth campaigners have collected their 1,000th name for a petition to have a directly elected mayor to personally take on the reins of running the borough council.

Yarmouth campaigners have collected their 1,000th name for a petition to have a directly elected mayor to personally take on the reins of running the borough council.

Anthony Carroll

A growing campaign to get a directly elected mayor for the people of Great Yarmouth received the backing last night of the man who famously ran as a monkey in a similar ground breaking election.

A growing campaign to get a directly elected mayor for the people of Great Yarmouth received the backing last night of the man who famously ran as a monkey in a similar ground breaking election.

Stuart Drummond, who became mayor of Hartlepool in 2002 after he ran as H'Angus the Monkey, said his election showed that people want more accountability in local democracy.

His comments came as Yarmouth campaigners collected their 1,000th name for a petition to have a directly elected mayor to personally take on the reins of running the borough council.

Michael Castle and Trevor Wainwright need to gather another 2,500 names so they can trigger a referendum next May.

If enough names are gathered the poll will ask residents of the borough if they want a hands on mayor or continue with the present ceremonial post.

Yesterday Mr Drummond, who has been elected as mayor of Hartlepool three times and is responsible for a £250m budget, said Yarmouth would benefit from following his hometown's example by going ape for a publically mandated town leader.

But while campaigners welcomed Mr Drummond's support, they hope that voters will not choose off the wall mayors such as Harry Herring or Sidney Seagull to represent Yarmouth.

Mr Drummond, who ran as himself in his last two elections, said: “The big difference in having a directly elected mayor is the accountability.

“Directly elected mayors are one of the few posts where people can have a say over the people who make decisions which affect their daily lives.

“I think people are not happy with the way councils are run and feel very marginalised - that was certainly the case in Hartlepool.”

When he was elected as H'Angus the Monkey, Mr Drummond's only policy was to give free bananas to children - but since then he has overseen a clamp down on anti-social behaviour and cleaned up the town's streets.

Mr Castle, who is the leader of Yarmouth borough Labour group, said the petition to have a directly elected mayor was not a political one and he would consider running for the new post himself.

He said: “I think that Hartlepool election was a bit of a novelty at first - but now Mr Drummond clearly commands the respect of

the people and politicians of the town.

“I am not advocating that we have a novelty mayor. First and foremost a directly elected mayor would increase the public interest at election time and would create a buck stops here post.”

Mr Castle and Mr Wainwright need to collect a total of 3,500 names - five pc of the electorate to trigger a mayoral referendum, which have been held in more than a dozen towns across the country, including London, Watford and Bedford.

To add your name to the 1,000 people already in support of a directly elected mayor for Yarmouth e-mail

michael.castle50@ntlworld.com or trevwainwright@btinternet or call 01493 844552 or 01493 441001.

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