Tributes to Calderdale councillors standing down who have racked up nearly 100 years of service

Thanks were given to four councillors who are stepping down at this year’s local elections and  between them have almost 100 years of service to the borough.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 28th March 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 28th March 2022, 8:42 pm

At the meeting of the full Calderdale Council ahead of the elections on May 5, Deputy Leader of the Council, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) – Leader Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) was having to self-isolate – paid tribute to them on behalf of the borough.

Heading the list is Coun Bob Metcalfe (Lab, Town), who, with just a couple of breaks, has served the borough for almost five decades, she said.

“Some of you will know the extraordinary fact that Bob Metcalfe actually became a councillor in 1973 – the council was formed in 1974 and he was on the shadow authority for Calderdale in 1973.

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Councillor Colin Raistrick, Coun Bob Metcalfe, Coun Susan Press and Coun Bryan Smith

“He did have a couple of breaks but overall he has served nearly 50 years, giving service to the people of Calderdale.

“Many of you will know that he was chair of the Housing Committee for a long time and he held the portfolio for Health and Social Care for 11 years, a good and faithful servant of the people of Calderdale.

“I think we will remember him with fondness and we will miss him tremendously,” said Coun Scullion.

Stepping down in Todmorden ward, Coun Susan Press (Lab) had represented the ward for eight years, but had served as a parish councillor at Hebden Royd previously and on leaving Calderdale was going on to serve on Todmorden Town Council.

“I think one of the most significant facts about her was she moved to live in her ward, which not all councillors do, and she was a Cabinet member for four years.

“Anyone who knows Susan will understand that she is passionate about tackling poverty and she is absolutely driven by that commitment and passion,” said Coun Scullion.

She said Coun Bryan Smith (Lab, Ovenden) had let colleagues know he was standing down for reasons of health after 22 years representing the ward.

“Bryan is a tremendous family man, really well known in Ovenden, of course, but right across Halifax, having done tremendous work at OSCA and Forest Cottage in Ovenden – it really looks fantastic and the outdoor facilities for young people really tremendous.

“I think it’s also probably worth noting that Bryan, probably alone in this council, is someone who served nine years in the Dukes, the Yorkshire Regiment, and he was tremendously proud of that,” said Coun Scullion.

OSCA is the Ovenden Sports Community Arena (OSCA) Foundation.

She said Coun Smith had a great day when the council inaugurated the statue to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment – which was based at Wellesley Park barracks – at the top of Woolshops in the heart of Halifax town centre.

“We wish Bryan a continued return to health and we will miss him tremendously,” said Coun Scullion.

Finally, she paid tribute to a councillor who had worked hard to turn around Children and Young People’s Services in Calderdale, Independent councillor Coun Colin Raistrick, stepping down after 16 years or so representing Hipperholme and Lightcliffe ward.

“Those of you who have worked with him on different committees will know his tremendous commitment to Children’s Services.

“He has been an absolute champion for children and I particularly refer to some time ago when the council was deemed by Ofsted as needing improvement.

“You know, he did a tremendous amount of work – he was utterly, utterly dedicated to that and has continued that dedication in his scrutiny role,” said Coun Scullion.

It would be remiss of her, she said, not to mention Coun Raistrick’s ability to use humour and a light touch at the right moment.

Coun Sarah Courtney (Lab, Calder) and Coun Brenda Monteith (Con, Brighouse) were among councillors who noted that Coun Raistrick always referred to children who were looked after by the borough as “our children” and he always emphasised councillors should take their corporate parenting role very seriously.

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