Bill calls it a day after four decades of service
By ROBERT GIBSON
Published at 07:41, Wednesday, 17 April 2013
ARGUABLY the most familiar face of Tynedale’s political scene, Bill Garrett, is stepping down as a town and county councillor after a 43 year career in local government.
Coun. Garrett, who has represented Prudhoe at all levels, has never lost an election and has long been seen as one of the district’s most respected and industrious politicians.
However, he said he wanted to enjoy a few months without commitments, before possibly taking on voluntary work and spending more time with his family, including wife, Lorna, who will also be giving up her town council seat after 37 years in politics.
“Now and then, you review your personal position and it’s the right time for me,” Coun. Garrett said.
“I’ve met some very nice people who are totally committed to their communities and some first-class council officers who are dedicated to doing their best.”
Coun. Garrett, whose father Ted was a Labour MP for Wallsend, was first elected as a Labour member for Prudhoe’s urban district council in 1970.
Four years later he became one of the founder members of Tynedale Council, with which he remained until its abolition, having a spell as leader for two years.
Since being elected to the unitary Northumberland County Council as an independent in 2008, Coun. Garrett has sat on numerous groups, including the west area planning committee, and been involved with a variety of significant local projects, such as the creation of the Manors extra care scheme in West Wylam and plans for the development of the old Prudhoe Hospital site.
“I’ve never really been political, as I found out early that if you’re entrenched in politics you’re not likely to achieve much,” Coun. Garrett said.
“When you work for the benefit of the community, you get more done.
“Prudhoe has made good progress and I’m proud and privileged the community has seen fit to elect me for so many years.
“It’s also been nice to have Lorna alongside me for so long, so I have to pay tribute to the support she and my family have given me.”
Coun. Garrett is not the only politician in Prudhoe to be stepping down at the Northumberland County Council elections next month – Coun. Neil Bradbury will likewise be vacating his seat.
For months, Coun. Bradbury’s political career has been the subject of speculation, after rumours – which he denies – that he has moved to Blaydon and cannot be contacted to electors.
The Lib Dem candidate for Prudhoe South will this time round be Darren Levitt, who was thrown off Prudhoe Town Council in 2011 after failing to attend a meeting in a year.
At the time, he cited changes in family life, illness and a job involving night shifts as the causes.
Mr Levitt will be up against Prudhoe’s town mayor and former deputy leader of the county council, Tony Reid (Lab), UKIP candidate Gerry Welton and 19-year-old Jade Scott for the Conservative party.
Elsewhere in Tynedale, both Coun. Ingrid Brook and Coun. Edward Heslop will be giving up their seats in the Hexham East and Humshaugh divisions respectively.
In Haltwhistle, meanwhile, Coun. Ian Hutchinson is hoping for re-election, despite being found guilty by Northumberland County Council’s standards committee of bullying his then-colleague, Anne Dale, who is contesting her Stocksfield and Broomhaugh seat as an independent.
In Ponteland North, Coun. Richard Dodd is in for an easy ride, as he is the only candidate standing for that division.
In Bywell, however, established councillor Paul Kelly’s competition will include environmentalist Andrew Haddon, who has been involved in everything from Wylam Green Street to helping small enterprises get off the ground.
“I’ve done a lot of things on a voluntary basis for a number of years and I think there’s a need for some different thinking in local politics,” he said.
UKIP is also hopeful some “different thinking” will pay off.
The party has candidates in Haltwhistle, Haydon and Hadrian, Hexham, Ponteland and Prudhoe.
Chairman of UKIP Tynedale, Melanie Hurst, said: “I think we’re all feeling confident.
“I’ve yet to meet anyone who isn’t interested in what we’re doing.”
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
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