Former Labour and Tory members link up to form political group at county level
PUBLISHED: 15:31 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 February 2018
A shared passion for education was enough for one former Labour councillor and one former Conservative to put their colours aside and form their own alliance.
From the red corner, Yarmouth North and Central county councillor Mick Castle. From the blue corner, Marshland North county councillor Sandra Squire.
However, having both resigned from their party allegiances the pair have now come together to form the Norfolk County Council Independent Group, citing their passion for education as the reason.
Both say they are highly motivated to press for new schools to be opened for children with additional educational needs.
The group, of which Mr Castle and Mrs Squire are the sole members, has set itself a number of targets, which it will be lobbying for in council.
Among these, the pair have made two major suggestions for the council’s budget for 2018/19, which is due to be set on February 14.
Mr Castle, who recently stepped down as a governor of North Denes Primary School in Great Yarmouth, has called for £250,000 of the Norfolk Futures transformation budget to be dedicated to redevelopment of brown field land in Southtown, Cobholm, North Quay and The Conge.
He has called for this money to fund a dedicated officer team to assist Great Yarmouth Borough Council and partner agencies in delivering this redevelopment.
He said: “Without this strategic approach, I fear we may still be in the same situation in another 14 years, which would be a tragedy.”
Mr Castle will serve as the group’s leader, with Mrs Squire serving as his deputy.
They are also proposing that £10m of capital expenditure should be earmarked to build a special school in the west of the county.
Mrs Squire said: “With cluster budgets being cut and therefore support in mainstream schools being under intense pressure, there is going to be an even greater need for schools that not only cater for children with autism, but understand them to thrive in a suitable environment.
“For too long there has been far too little investment in education for children with autism and this needs to change.”