Thetford councillor triggers by-election days after leaving Labour over EU referendum

A Labour politician who left the party earlier this week because he wanted an EU referendum has triggered a by-election to let Thetford voters judge his change of allegiance.

Carl Clark, who dismissed Labour leader Ed Miliband as a 'wet flannel' when he became an independent councillor on Monday, initially planned to remain on the council until the 2015 election.

However, he said he decided to resign yesterday and stand for re-election after praying and deciding he would lose credibility if he did not ask voters to endorse his switch.

He said: 'I thought it was the best thing to do and everyone is happy then. Whether I win or lose I have tried my best. I will fight for local issues and on the anti-EU stance and call for a referendum. I think I have got a good chance.'

Mr Clark said he was well known locally as a youth boxing coach, member of Thetford Cycling Forward and Breathe Easy, and member of two churches.

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Last year an independent candidate Pauline Quadling topped the poll in Mr Clark's Thetford Abbey ward, beating him by 112 votes, while Mr Clark edged out fellow Labour candidate Brenda Canham by seven votes.

Breckland Labour group leader Terry Jermy said he wanted Ms Canham, a Thetford town councillor, to stand against Mr Clark.

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He said: 'I am very pleased Carl has decided to resign. Breckland Labour group has consistently stated we believe it is the morally responsible thing to do.

'I am sure Europe will factor, but only to a limited extent. People are primarily concerned about housing and local issues and they will want a strong and committed local representative. I would be confident of Labour retaining this seat.'

The by-election will be the fourth in the district following the resignation of three Conservatives this month due to ill health, a conflict of interest and moving out of the area.

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