Kickboxing former cop Ian Womersley outlines his vision for Hemsworth after election victory
A kickboxing former PC is promising to fight for a "fair deal for Hemsworth" after being surprisingly re-elected to Wakefield Council.
Ian Womersley, 60, has thrown himself back into casework after he defeated Labour to take the seat by more than 300 votes at the local elections earlier this month.
Independent Coun Womersley previously served on the local authority between 2008 and 2012 and following his retirement as a police officer now works as intervention worker helping troubled families.
Coun Womersley, who admitted to being taken aback by this own victory, said: "When I walk round Wakefield the roads are like a magic carpet.
"On some of the streets around where I live, the roads an absolute disgrace.
"I understand the council haven't got the money to do all the streets and we've been through a period of austerity. Coun Box (local authority leader) has a difficult job to do and he's got difficult decisions to make."
"But I represent Hemsworth, and I want to make sure that we're getting a fair deal for the amount of council tax we're paying."
Across a varied and interesting life, the grandfather-of-three has been awarded an MBE for his police work in schools, while he also runs a successful local kickboxing club for people of all ages.
In 2016, he and his son James completed a 50-tonne weightlifting challenge to raise money for the club, and he also once ran up Mount Snowdon barefoot and had roof tiles smashed over his stomach with a sledgehammer in the name of charity.
While he will continue to be active in the community, Coun Womersley, who also sits on Hemsworth Town Council, says he will make sure his constituents are properly represented.
Among his other priorities are securing a brighter future for Vale Head Park and having the local cemetery properly maintained.
He said: "When people walk through Vale Head Park now, they can see it's dilapidated and worn down.
"It doesn't have to be like that. That's one reason why people might feel downhearted and disconnected.
"I don't know if the council's got plans for the park, but if they have, what are they?
"There's the possibility that we as a town council could take it on ourselves and restore it to its former glory.
"These might sound like small things, but they mean a lot to people.
"I'm not here to cause trouble or have a fight with anyone. I'm here to ask questions and try and get answers on behalf of the people I represent."
In response to Coun Womersley's remarks about highway maintenance, the authority's Cabinet member for transport, Matthew Morley, said: "Roads in our district are inspected on a regular basis so that the funding we have available can be targeted to those requiring maintenance.
"Each year we complete a programme of repairs on roads to keep them as safe and accessible as possible.
"This year will see an increase in our annual investment in maintaining and improving the district’s roads and footpaths in response to the concerns from residents. An additional £15million is to be invested over the next five years to help and improve the district’s roads and footways.
"If residents are concerned about the condition of any road or footway, they can report it on our website at www.wakefield.gov.uk, where they can also find information about this year’s maintenance programme for the district."
Local Democracy Reporting Service