FORMER Mayor of Warrington Geoff Settle has announced he is putting his name forward as a prospective MEP candidate for the newly formed Change UK Party.
Geoff, who previously represented the Poulton North area of Warrington as a Labour Cllr before quitting the party, said: “People will know that I was deselected by the Labour Party when I was Mayor for failing on two questions when I put myself forward as a prospective candidate.
“I could not agree with their premise that I must always follow the Labour Group Party line on all issues! I never had but how could I predict what new policy issues they were going to come up with?
“When I asked if I supported the women only candidate approach, I said it depends on the candidates, I want the best person for the job. In fact I had put forward three candidates for our branch and worked my socks off to persuade them to stand – two were turned down because of their lack of experience and one is now a Borough Councillor – I didn’t put forward and did not support any male candidates because they was no one suitable.”
Although he had the support of the then leader Cllr Terry O’Neil, who asked him to appeal and reconsider, he decided that he would be taking time-out and focusing on his many charities that were proving to be facing many challengers.
Geoff said “So I was turfed-out, but it was the memory of the actions of demonstrators who attempted to gate crash the Town Hall Annex building in support of Kevin Bennett when he was facing a private meeting considering his deselection that stuck in my mind. Politics was changing for the worse.
“I’ve always stood up against acts of bullying and threats and on that occasion, this was a clear one. I remember well the thuggery facing me as I stood on the steps to the members room and asked for the police to be called as they tried to gain access to the upstairs room.”
Another less threatening one was when chairing a Full Council meeting and trying to implement the new timing structure and disciplinary rules of debate agreed by all members. He got to understand the difficulties that John Bercow and Lindsay Hoyle face when sitting in the speaker’s chair.
Geoff continued: “I received four letters of complaint accusing me of mismanagement, three from different parties (Labour, Lib-Dems and Independent) and one from the member of the public who had been timed out by a councillor replying to his first question. He never got the chance to answer his follow up and killer question.
“One of these letters was a FOUR-page rant from a Labour Borough Councillor stating that if I ever revealed the source …. This letter went straight to the leader for information.”
Geoff says he has been working hard away from the council for the last three years but has been following the “antics” of politicians in the House of Commons and more recently MPs resignations and believes that change must take place.
“Having worked for companies specialising in change, especially implementing new computer systems, I understand some of the difficulties of delivering change and how hard it is to do well. Outside of this I have spent a great deal of time involved in the third sector and experienced the difficulties of just standing still and surviving, just look at the ones that have failed in Warrington so dramatically.
“It really can be a seat of the pants experience which certainly keeps you awake at night or in the early hours of the morning working away to resolve important issues.”
He says politicians should be spending time, effort and resources helping communities and people find the answers to the big questions about Europe.
Geoff spent the first three years of his early retirement working for young enterprise working at schools from primary to college across the North West.
He says he learned during his Mayoral visits to City Hall Belfast and to the Peace Cup hosted by of Crewe United FC in the new City of Lisburn & Castlereagh. The two cities, one old and one new have changed massively since the 1970’s when he competed in the Antrim Half Marathon. He also had experience in Hilden where a Town has incorporated and embraced change exceedingly well. Just as the cities of Liverpool and Manchester where has spent a great deal of his working life and that have been transformed by European grants.
Geoff concluded: “If selected by Change UK I would love to take a seat in Europe and promote North West business, culture, mental health etc as well as my interests in the natural environment, Mersey forest, with its strong European connections and research and invigorate Warrington’s commitment to Agenda 21. This used to be supported by WBC in the form of the Warrington Nature Conservation Forum, but support went, however we have survived and continue to be one of the few Forums set up by local government that are still in existence.
“The Climate Changes that we are experience are being recognised by a group of youngsters whom I walked with last week shouting about their fears about the impact of man’s impact on the Natural Environment. It’s their future, not ours and they deserve our protection through a united Europe, not a divided one no matter how hard that is going to be.”