I am a 43-year-old professional Land Surveyor by trade currently working for Green Planning Studio Ltd who are Planning Consultants based in Shropshire.
I am a former LibDem Councillor, who served the residents Bridgnorth, Morfe Ward, for 11 years at all Council levels:
- Bridgnorth Town Council (1999-2002)
- Bridgnorth District Council (1999 – 2005)
- Shropshire County Council (2001 – 2005)
Born in Bridgnorth a market town in Shropshire on 30th July 1969 at Bridgnorth Hospital. I then spent the first 3 years of my life living in Highley nr. Bridgnorth.
My parents, younger brother and I moved back to Bridgnorth where I received my schooling at Bridgnorth County Infants School, St. Leonard’s C of E Junior School and finally in Bridgnorth Endowed School 1980>87.
I decided to abandon my ‘A’ level studies in pursuit of a more direct entry into my chosen career path of Cartography. I had already written to the Ordnance Survey enquiring about Cartography positions. They informed me that they were not taking on Cartographers at that time. However, they were looking for Land Surveyors. I, therefore, decided to study for an OND in Land Surveying & Cartography at De Havilland College (now called Oaklands College) 1987>1989. During this period the direction of my career shifted from Cartography to Land Surveying. From here I then progressed in further education to Hatfield Polytechnic (now known as University of Herts 1989>1991 where I studied for a HND in Engineering Surveying.
Assistant Surveyor NIGEL PAYNE, SURVEYOR / CIV. ENGINEER, BRIDGNORTH 1988
Assistant Surveyor SURVEY DATA, DROITWICH 1989
Assistant Surveyor INVAR MAPPING SURVEYS, SHREWSBURY 1990
Junior Surveyor BARRY J. LOWE FRICS, SHREWSBURY 1991
Junior Surveyor INVAR MAPPING SURVEYS, SHREWSBURY 1992>1993
Junior Surveyor/Engineer TOTAL SURVEYS Ltd, REDDITCH 1993
Senior Surveyor/Engineer 1996>1998
Senior Surveyor AM SURVEYS Ltd, HALESOWEN 1998
Senior Surveyor / Webmaster Laser Surveys Ltd., WORCESTER 1998 > 2001
Senior Surveyor / Webmaster INVAR MAPPING SURVEYS, SHREWSBURY 2001 > 2010
Surveyor / Network Manager / Webmaster Green Planning Studio Ltd 2010 >present
My involvement in local politics
Depending on your point of view my first mistake was to join the Liberal Democrats. I joined during the build up to the General election of that year. My only aim was to help the underdogs of the British political scene financially in my own modest way. I felt the Lib Dems, as I believed and still do, stood for common sense without the historical baggage and dogma associated with the two main parties, I.e. The Conservative Party & The Labour Party. Within a short space of time, I was roped into action helping deliver leaflets, labelling & folding at the campaign HQ. This proved to be an enjoyable exercise and a break from the norm.
The Ludlow constituency PPC (Ian Huffer) came to visit me & asked me to run as a paper candidate in the local district council elections for the Liberal Democrats in Much Wenlock. After being reassured as to what that actually meant and that it required no work from me I agreed.
(A paper candidate is somebody on the ballot paper so that supporters can vote for their party rather than the others. Little or no time, money & or effort is put into being elected)
However, one of the sitting Conservative candidates pulled out at the last minute leaving his local party unable to replace him. Although still on a modest level, it was decided to now go for the seat. One rushed leaflet delivered by family members & myself went out to the principle population areas. On elections night I was both relieved & disappointed not to have been elected. However, I only missed out by 38 votes so it was a good return for the effort put in.
Political naivety showed its hand again when I made the mistake of going to the local AGM in Bridgnorth to see what they were doing with my money. Mistake No 2 not only saw me nominated & elected onto the branch committee but also, the position of Branch Vice-Chairman to boot. I was local branch Vice-chairman in 1996 & 1997.
On May 6th, 1999 once again I stood in the Local Elections for the Liberal Democrats this time in Morfe Ward for Bridgnorth Town & Bridgnorth District Councils. This time I came second to another Lib Dem for both councils. Namely, Kit Sheldon who had represented Morfe Ward for 16 years. Kit stood down in 2003.
As there were two seats up for grabs in this Ward we were both duly elected. I sat on the Planning Committee & Best Value Working Group for the Town Council and on the Policy & Resources committee, the Leisure & Economic Development committee & the Information Technology sub-committee at Bridgnorth District Council. I was the Vice-Chairman for the latter & was selected as the District Councils representative on the Bridgnorth Community Hall committee.
Whilst everybody was enjoying the millennium celebrations in Bridgnorth I was in hospital suffering from a chest infection brought on by influenza. This was a pity as according to the Times newspaper Bridgnorth was the 10th best place in the country to enjoy the millennium.
I was selected as Branch Chairman of Bridgnorth Liberal Democrats as well as the Secretary of the Independent Alliance Group on the District Council. The latter being made up of Independents & the 4 Lib Dem councillors. In this year I was elevated to Chairman of the IT sub-committee on BDC & Chairman of Planning on BTC whilst all other committees remained the same.
On BDC as the political balance had changed I was moved onto Planning & instead of Leisure & Economic Development.
This year saw me elevated to become the Vice-Chairman of Policy & Resources on Bridgnorth District Council whilst remaining Chairman of IT. On Bridgnorth Town Council I went onto Property & Grounds becoming the Vice-Chairman in the process as well as remaining the Chairman of Planning.
On June 7th, 2001 (the elections were delayed by foot and mouth) I stood in the County Council Elections for Bridgnorth Rural Division. At the count on the following Day, I was elected by 28 votes on to Shropshire County Council. During my time on SCC, I served as a member of the planning committee, education scrutiny committee and the community and environment committee.
I became a cabinet member, supporting Peter Corston in his Education portfolio.
I lost my County Council seat by 18 votes. Can you see a pattern 😉
I lost by District Council seat. Much has been said elsewhere about this. Save to say that a backlash against a fellow candidate left a sour taste in the mouth.
I was very proud and privileged to marry Julie Anne Astbury on a sunny day in September 2007. For our Honeymoon, we spent two weeks on the beautiful garden island of Kauai, Hawaii, USA. (see here for more)
On my wife’s insistence, I joined the Freemasons… not really sure what I was letting myself in for. Sadly, she died unexpectedly, aged 40, from a torn Aorta, just 1 month before our 1st Wedding Anniversary :`(
I completed the process of joining the Freemasons in honour of her, and the be fair I enjoyed every minute of it since, enjoying good fellowship, supporting worthy charities & further improving my character… Something she was keen to see, knowing how it helped her dad.
I was laid-off and subsequently made redundant in the deepening recession. My great friend and my mentor in Freemasonry died in the Autumn. At that time I decided I would resign from the Town Council. I still needed to get my life back in order. I was laid-off in the Spring and made redundant in September. However, I remained on the Town Council until the following May and resigned at the Annual Meeting, having seen the new Mayor into office.
I resigned from Bridgnorth Town Council after the Mayor making ceremony but before the Annual Meeting in May.
I became a trustee of Bridgnorth Housing Trust and played a key role in transforming the charity and progressing a development of 20 Almes Houses in Low Town.
Worked with other Trustees to get planning permission for BHT and came up with the name Spinners Court – based on the local history of the Spinners who worked at the Carpet Factory, who lived in the area and because of the roots of the Housing Trust. I became a Trustee of the Rev Francis Wheeler’s Charity.
Found happiness again in my personal life. In the spring I sold the house in Telford after a refurb and purchased another 4 doors away. All in the recession years cost my a pretty penny so refurbs to recapitalise after the recession is the order of the day. Meanwhile, my colours were firmly pinned to Sandra’s Mast in West Felton.
With the Lib Dems resurgent, the next house nearing completion and happiness now firmly rooted in West Felton, with Sandra’s approval I decide to run for Shropshire Council again for Whittington Ward.
To be Continued…
Now I have been a councillor I have continued the family tradition in Bridgnorth local politics. Above is a picture of my Great Grandfather Arthur Harrison who was Mayor of Bridgnorth in 1945-46 receiving the key to the first council house on Syndey Cottage Drive. Which my father still possesses. He moved to Oldbury, just outside Bridgnorth, from Broseley and represented Castle ward from 1940 till his death in 1957. He was an Alderman who was raised to the Aldermanic bench upon becoming Mayor.
Following him was his son-in-law & my Uncle Jeff Walker who was Mayor of Bridgnorth in 1975 -76. He too was a Councillor of many years standing both Town & District councils and their predecessors. Being Mayor is a great privilege & honour which costs the individual a great deal of money. This was especially true when my Great Grandfather was Mayor. Indeed, he is reported to have told his fellow councillors of the time ‘don’t elect me as mayor again as I can’t afford it’. Politically we are based in different camps but we all shared the same objective – looking out for the best interest of and serving the community of Bridgnorth.