New Ilfracombe Councillor Martin Duce wants to tackle youth unemployment and encourage heritage investment
ILFRACOMBE'S newest councillor says he wants to tackle youth unemployment and encourage investment in the town's heritage.
Martin Duce, 53, won an election held last week to represent the west ward on Ilfracombe Town Council and was sworn into post at the council's full meeting on Monday.
Mr Duce scooped 154 votes in the first election to be held in the ward since 2003, comfortably beating the other candidates – June Williams, Graham Street and Bob Walker – to the post.
More than 400 people cast their votes at polling stations last Thursday – a turnout of 11.14 per cent.
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Mr Duce, who moved to Ilfracombe eight years ago from North Yorkshire, runs Dolly's Cafe on the Promenade with his daughter Hanni, 27.
He said: "I used to run a bakery and tea shop in Robin Hood's Bay.
"It was a very similar kind of town to Ilfracombe, a bit tired and needed a facelift.
"I got involved with The National Trust and English Heritage and also did some fundraising and event organising which really helped transform that area."
Martin, who decided to run for election while volunteering for Ilfracombe's Neighbourhood Community Budget (NCB) pilot scheme, said he was delighted to become a councillor.
He said: "My neighbours and other locals have been so kind and generous to me since I've moved to Ilfracombe and I wanted to give something back.
"I'm very concerned about youth unemployment and the associated problems. There's not a lot for them to do and they can often be found hanging around.
"I'm also keen to encourage investment in the town's heritage and I am a firm supporter of the NCB scheme to give more power to the people of Ilfracombe."
Several Ilfracombe residents contacted the Journal to complain that the election was not well publicised.
Ally Poore said she had not been informed about the election and did not know where to go to vote.
She said: "The only reason I knew an election was forthcoming were two petition letters (delivered by candidates), one of which gave no indication what the candidate stood for or how they intended to spend my taxes."
David Beagley said: "We've not been issued polling cards and we have not been told where to vote.
"I've spoken to other residents and we are completely in the dark, we don't even know who the candidates are. What a debacle."
Ilfracombe Town Council's Finance and General Purpose committee opted not to issue polling cards for the election in order to save around £700.
However, the council ensured posters advertising the election were displayed in shop windows, the Ilfracombe Centre, polling stations and on its website and Facebook page.
The council said the total cost of the election would be between £3,000 and £4,000.