Heysham politician gets MBE after 68-year career

Jean Yates celebrates retaining her seat in the 2001 Lancashire County Council elections. 0806018-14.
Jean Yates celebrates retaining her seat in the 2001 Lancashire County Council elections. 0806018-14.

Jean Yates has been in politics about as long as the Heysham to M6 link road has been talked about.

And as a longtime campaigner for the road, Jean is delighted it will finally become a reality in 2016.

A former mayor of Lancaster and long-serving city and county councillor, Jean is also celebrating her MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

She was awarded the MBE for services to the community and a 68-year career in local politics which began when she joined the Labour party in 1947, aged just 14, when Clement Attlee was Prime Minister.

Jean went on to meet all the subsequent Labour PMs including Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and says her favourite Labour leader was John Smith because “he was really nice to people and had time for everyone”.

Jean first stood for Lancaster City Council in 1974.

In the 1992 General Election she was Labour’s candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale and then became mayor in 1994/95. She was also mayoress when Eileen Blamire was mayor.

Jean, who lives in Heysham, says a highlight of her career in local politics was when she chaired the planning committee at the town hall and gave the thumbs up for many local developments.

“If you can actually see something that you’ve voted for making the district a better place then it gives you a great incentive,” she said.

Aside from the link road, the campaigns which gave her most satisfaction were for Heysham Library and the Heysham Mossgate Community Centre, which she still chairs.

She is also President of St John Ambulance Fellowship having been involved with them for 40 years, and continues to work for the Labour party. Preston-born Jean also remains a proud season ticket holder at Preston North End football club.