A MAJOR overhaul of Copeland Council is on the cards next month with almost half the existing councillors deciding to stand down.

Twenty councillors – including outgoing leader Elaine Woodburn, former executive members and borough mayors totalling over 100 years’ service – have confirmed they will not seek re-election.

The Labour and Conservative parties each have 38 candidates standing for the 51 seats, along with 11 independents, seven Greens, two Liberal Democrats and one UKIP.

The biggest changes are afoot in the Bransty ward (Whitehaven) where all three current Labour councillors are giving up their seats; Phil Greatorex and David Smith are standing down, while Gillian Troughton is instead vying for a Distington seat. The ward will now be Tory-led, it has been confirmed, with only one Labour candidate (Anne Bradshaw) and three Conservatives (Arthur Lamb, Brian O’Kane and Graham Roberts) competing for three seats.

At least three new councillors will be elected in Egremont.

In the North ward, Sam Pollen (Labour) is the only member re-standing, with Elaine Woodburn stepping down after 20 years and Karl Connor having resigned in February. The other candidates are John Burns (Lab), Lee Butterworth (Ind), Jean Lewthwaite (Con), Jacqui Smith (Ind) and Jane Tyson (Green).

In Egremont South, Labour’s Lena Hogg and Mike McVeigh are re-standing, but colleague Carole Woodman is not. The other candidates are Paul Downton (Ind), Neil Ferguson (Lab), Erica Flint (Green), Graham Hutson (Con) and Adam Nichol (Ind).

There will be at least two new councillors in Harbour ward, with John Kane switching his attention to Hillcrest (he says to avoid a clash with his candidacy for a Harbour ward seat on Whitehaven Parish Council) and Jeanette Williams standing down. Copeland’s Conservative Parliamentary candidate Stephen Haraldsen has vacated his Hillcrest seat, and at least two new councillors will be elected in Hensingham, Mirehouse and Newtown.

There will be a new councillor for Ennerdale with Bob Salkeld standing down, while Keith Hitchen (Conservative) is the only candidate and will be automatically re-elected for Bootle. Others not seeking re-election are John Jackson, Bill Southward, Brian Dixon, Jon Downie, Geoff Garrity, Margarita Docherty, Jack Park, George Clements, Peter Kane, Anne Faichney, John Fallows, Ray Heathcote and Eileen Eastwood.

Coun Woodburn, in her final meeting as leader, paid tribute to those standing down. She said: “Only those who have sat in this council chamber know the effort and commitment it takes to be a councillor. Each one who is standing down leaves a positive legacy here and have always done their best for the people of Copeland.”

Copeland Council is currently made up of 32 Labour, 15 Conservative and three independents (with one vacant seat).