Cannock councillor of 51 years stepping down

One of the longest serving councillors in the country is stepping down after more than half a century of service.

Cannock Chase councillor Gordon Alcott with wife Audrey
Cannock Chase councillor Gordon Alcott with wife Audrey

Gordon Alcott has been a Labour councillor in Cannock for 51 years, starting out on the urban district council in 1970 and continuing on Cannock Chase District Council from 1974 to this day.

The 81-year-old is believed to be one of a small number of current councillors in the country to have served for more than 50 years continuously.

Mr Alcott, who is retiring at this week's local elections, said: "I think I've certainly served my apprenticeship!

Mr Alcott when he was leader in 1987

"There's always been plenty to do to make the lives and the welfare of people who live in your area better.

"Whether it's schools, jobs, housing, you can always improve people's quality of life and that's what has kept me going for so long."

Father-of-four Mr Alcott, who represents Cannock North, has been elected 13 times and served as leader of the council for six years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He is the current deputy leader – his second spell in the role – and has been council chairman three times.

He has attended more than 5,000 council meetings and sat on almost every committee.

He has also represented the authority on several outside bodies, including the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and the county council pension board.

Union

Mr Alcott retired from his job in the ambulance service in 1993 after 38 years and was made a life member of UNISON for his services to the trade union.

It was his union ties that led to him being asked to stand in his home ward of Chadsmoor in the 1970 local elections.

"I was born there and I knew what the problems were and what needed to be done," Mr Alcott said.

He says one of the achievements he is most proud of is his role in improving people's living conditions through a mass house building programme, which replaced hundreds of homes that lacked basic amenities.

Gordon Alcott with Amanda Milling MP and council leader George Adamson unveiling a commemorative plaque

"It really got me into it and I saw I could make a difference," he said.

He went on to work with other councillors to open Cannock's first swimming pool and leisure centre, and successfully campaigned for the building of the local hospital and the reopening of Birmingham-Rugeley rail line.

He was also a key player in getting the clean air act introduced in the district, a move which helped to improve air quality in a district where many homes were reliant on coal.

In recent years he played a major role in bringing the McArthurGlen shopping village to Cannock.

"I think over the years we have created thousands and thousands of jobs for local people," Mr Alcott says.

"They hadn't got to travel anywhere else to get work, we got them jobs right here in Cannock. If you look at McArthurGlen, that's 1,600 jobs when it's all up and running.

"It makes a big difference to people's lives. It's always been in my blood to get things done."

Councillor Gordon Alcott in 2016 campaigning against the pothole problem in the district

Mr Alcott, who celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary this year with wife Audrey, says he hopes to see more young people getting involved in politics.

And he said that despite his impending retirement he still has plenty to keep him occupied, including chairing a group representing a local doctors' practice on the district's Patient Participation Group.

Reflecting on his career in politics, he said: "Being a councillor is not easy, but for those who are willing to put in the time and effort it is a wonderful experience.

"I've always thought it is all about putting service before self, and that's what I have always tried to do."

His close friend, council leader George Adamson, said: "Gordon has done an amazing 51 years of service to the community. What he doesn’t know about the council isn’t worth knowing.

"His enthusiasm and his desire to always obtain the best for his ward and the residents of Cannock Chase district has not diminished one little bit over all the years.

"I have been proud to work with him and consider him as a friend, he will be sorely missed.

"We will be presenting him with a gift at the annual meeting of the council to show our appreciation of a lifetime of service."

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