Haverhill’s new town councillor wants to bring an improved healthcare service to the town.
The United Kingdom Independence Party’s (UKIP) Barry Robbins won last Thursday’s (October 10) by-election for the vacant Haverhill North Ward seat, bringing the town council up to full capacity.
“I believe in the politics of UKIP and have lived in Haverhill all my life and feel very strongly about the way the town is being handled,” said Cllr Robbins, 66.
“We don’t seem to be going forward – there’s lots of issues that could be handled more locally and even though Haverhill is one of the largest towns in Suffolk we seem to be going backwards.”
The post office counter clerk, from Broad Street, said improving health services in Haverhill is his key ambition.
Cllr Robbins, who has three children and five grandchildren, said: “I would like to see social justice in the town, particularly with the health service, and also for there to be more chances and jobs for young people.
“My youngest daughter has just had a baby boy and has had to have various trips to hospital, and sometimes I’ve been helping out and have had to go all the way to Addenbrooke’s of West Suffolk Hospital at 2am, or to Sudbury to take him to a doctor.
“A couple of friends have died lately and it makes you think what would happen if someone had a heart attack here with the nearest doctor 20 miles away.
“We’re a town approaching 30,000 people yet have less doctors than when there were 3,000.”
Cllr Robbins won with 374 votes, with Conservative Christopher Wheatley second on 254, Labour’s Lorraine Weston third with 212 votes and independent Frankie Boyle fourth as he polled just 20 votes.
The ward has an electorate of 5,735 of which just 15 per cent turned out to vote.
Cllr Robbins filled the seat vacated by Brian Hawes, who had defected from the Tories to be independent and then UKIP before he resigned after a complaint was made against him following an allegation of a racist remark.
May’s Suffolk County Council elections saw Haverhill gains it’s first UKIP councillors in Julian Flood (Cangle) and Tony Brown (East and Kedington).
Despite Haverhill’s mayor Roger André stating that the policies of UKIP have no place at local level, Cllr Robbins is optimistic that he can work in partnership with his fellow councillors despite their political divisions.
“I’ve got involved because I’ve seen how this country is going and that UKIP have good policies.
“Our recent successes shows what people in this town are thinking about or why else would they have voted for us?
“What one person said is not the definition of the policy of the party, and I have lots of friends of different nationalities and am certainly not a racist.
“I’m not a political animal but I stand up for democracy and have been democratically voted.
“I’m not up for arguing with someone or disagreeing because they’re from a different party, and if there are things we all agree on like the need for a hospital and better health services we can all work together.”
Cllr André is among Haverhill’s unelected town councillors, instead being co-opted having lost elections to serve on the county, St Edmundbury and town councils.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, October 17) Echo.