Stalwart councillor calls it a day at Chorley

One of Chorley’s longest-serving councillors has stepped down.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 10:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 10:34 am
Eric Bell

Former councillor Eric Bell took the decision to resign following the postponement of May’s local elections at which he was due to retire having served on Chorley Council since 1989.

After 31 years Eric looked back on his time with great fondness and said it was the fact he was able to make a difference to people’s lives and the friendly nature of the place that kept him going for so long.

“I’ve had a brilliant time serving the people of Chorley – I’ve been here to make the borough a better place to live and I look back on my 31 years on Chorley Council with happy memories,” said Eric.

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“One thing that stands out for me is how friendly the people are here – whether that’s residents who need some help or fellow councillors. We may have our disagreements in the council chamber but afterwards we are all friends looking to do the best for the borough and that’s the way it should be.

“Things are very different now to how they were when I first joined but it is very much for the better. The council is a lot more business-like now and is focussed on getting things done for residents.”

Eric started his career in politics as a parish councillor – a role that he will continue with – and it was his passion for Whittle-le-Woods, the area that he grew up in, and a desire to get things done that led him to standing for election back in the 1980s.

He served on every committee that the council has with a keen interest in the streetscene services where he served as the executive member for many years. He spent time as the leader of the Conservative group and one of his highlights was his year as mayor where he raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

“I’ve always been involved in getting things done in the community, whether that be self-help groups, litter picking, planting etc. so it just stemmed from there,” said Eric.

“I was never really bothered about the political side of things but someone suggested I put myself forward for the borough council as it would be good for the village – I did that, got elected and I’ve not looked back as they say.

“I’ve always been someone who wants to improve things for residents and that’s been my main focus, speaking up on their behalf. The mayoral year was a particular highlight for me but

I’ve enjoyed it all and will have very fond memories.

“At the last election I was considering stepping down but it was only another two years given the all out elections due to be held in May so I said that would be it for me. It’s come to the point where I have done my bit and it will allow me to spend more time with the family and my hobbies and I’ll still be involved as a parish councillor and in various village groups.

“I’d like to thank everyone for all their help and support over the years and I know if everyone continues to work together Chorley will be a better place for it.”

One of Eric’s closest friends at the authority, councillor John Walker, said it had been a privilege serving alongside him for many years.

“He has served the Whittle, Clayton and Buckshaw Village community with diligence and has always been available to assist and advise many residents throughout his tenure,” said Councillor Walker.

“I have worked alongside Eric for over 20 years and always found him to be a hard-working and conscientious councillor, supporting the residents, the town, and his fellow councillors.”

Councillors missed the opportunity to express their thanks to Eric as the last council meeting was cancelled due to coronavirus but many have been in touch to express their gratitude.

Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “I’m sure everyone at Chorley Council wishes Eric all the best in his retirement.

“To serve for 31 years is a tremendous achievement and in the council chamber he has always had the best interests of residents at heart.

“I know he will still be actively involved in the local community in Whittle but we can all learn a lot from what he has achieved over the years and everyone who I speak to only has kind words to say about Eric.”

A decision on any by-election for the vacant seat will be made once guidance is issued from Government on how local authorities should proceed with elections.