End of an era at authority

Billy Elliot with Chairman of Mitford Parish Council Mike Sharp.
Billy Elliot with Chairman of Mitford Parish Council Mike Sharp.

A VILLAGE stalwart has been honoured for his many years of service to his community.

Billy Elliott was a fixture on Mitford Parish Council for an extraordinary 58 years. He was a founder member in 1955 and served continuously since, 23 years as chairman, until his recent retirement.

He has also been involved with a number of other groups and events, including the Farmers’ Union, and was awarded an MBE in 2007.

The authority celebrated the achievements of the 86-year-old, who has farmed sheep in the Dene House area of the village since 1948, at its annual meeting last week.

One of his main achievements was persuading the county council to stabilise the river bank and repair a section of road after subsidence cause a major problem.

Mr Elliott and fellow councillors successfully lobbied the county authority to put in a 30mph speed limit through the village and widen St Leonard’s Road.

He also championed the appointment of a parish warden to undertake maintenance work and keep Mitford clean and tidy.

“It was an emotional evening and I was humbled by the councillors’ kind words,” he said.

“In my time on the authority, I tried to do my best for Mitford and I’m grateful to all the councillors over the years for their efforts and the parish clerks for their support.

“With the road erosion, I was getting very concerned with the state of the bank and saw water coming up through the middle of the road.

“I got onto our local county councillor at the time, Glen Sanderson, and demanded to have a meeting with highways officers that afternoon and the road was closed that night.

“I think they spent over one million pounds on fixing the problem and they had to bring many tonnes of soil, but thankfully it was eventually sorted.

“To be a good councillor, you need to be proactive and stand up and be counted when you get the chance to speak with people at county council level.

“In saying that, you also need to be positive and try to work together with other organisations to find solutions.

“I couldn’t have been involved with the council and other village activities for so long without the support of my wife, Patricia.” The couple have three children and five grandchildren.

Mr Elliott spent 15 years as a warden at Mitford’s Church of St Mary Magdalene and was a governor formerly at Mitford School and then All Saints First School in Lancaster Park, Morpeth.

He was involved in setting up the village flower show and bowls club.

At the annual meeting, he was given a framed painting of the MacLeod family coming to Dene House Farm.

The parish council’s current chairman, Mike Sharp, said: “Billy made a vast contribution to the parish during his 58 years on the council.

“During my period as chairman, he has often reminded me that my job is to get things done for our community, not just to talk about the issues.”