CAMPAIGNERS seeking to return Yarm to North Yorkshire have wasted no time in informing the Boundary Commission of the result of a poll, which saw an overwhelming number of voters back their call.
As reported in Wednesday's The Northern Echo, 89 per cent of those who voted in the special Yarm poll said they wanted to leave Stockton Borough Council and join neighbouring Hambleton and North Yorkshire councils.
However, the poll was not legally binding and many leading politicians in the area say the move is unlikely to happen.
A total of 1,644 people voted, just over 24 per cent of the electorate. That compares to 41 per cent who voted in a similar poll in 1986.
Many people in the affluent town have been upset by the number of housing developments allowed in the area and the introduction of pay and display parking on the High Street.
The decision to change the council boundaries would ultimately be made the Boundary Commission. However, it is likely the Commission would seek the opinion of Stockton Borough Council which would be unlikely to give the go-ahead. The views of Hambleton District Council and North Yorkshire County Council would also be sought.
Despite this, Paul Smith, chairman of the Yarm 4 Yorkshire campaign, said a letter had already been sent to the Commission and a response was awaited.
Delighted with the result, he said the turn-out would have been higher if the polling stations had been open all day and postal votes had been allowed.
“I didn’t really think we would get 24 per cent turning out or the 89 per cent positive vote. We’re trying to set up talks with Hambleton and North Yorkshire councils as soon as possible,” he said.
John Weighell, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said he had not yet had any contact with anyone in Yarm.
“We certainly would welcome talking to them although I can’t say much more than that at this stage," he said. "It’s a complex situation. However, North Yorkshire County Council is made up of farms, hamlets, villages and market towns and Yarm fits that bill, quite frankly.”
Phil Morton, chief executive of Hambleton District Council, said the authority was “flattered” by the result, but stressed any decision would have to be taken by the Commission.
Bob Cook, leader of Stockton council, would say little in response to the outcome.
“Until Yarm Town Council, who called the poll, has had an opportunity to fully consider the results or the Boundary Commission asks us to look into the matter further it would be inappropriate for us to comment,” he said.
However, he reiterated that residents’ surveys showed there was a high level of satisfaction with the council’s services.