All change on council as new Mayor elected

Outgoing Mayor of Alnwick Alan Symmonds with the new Mayor, Bill Grisdale.
Outgoing Mayor of Alnwick Alan Symmonds with the new Mayor, Bill Grisdale.

It’s all about people working together to try to protect the unique blend of culture in Alnwick – that’s according to the town’s new mayor.

At last Thursday’s meeting of the town council, the first since the elections, Bill Grisdale was elected as Mayor of Alnwick.

A north Northumberland man through and through, he was born in Rothbury, was brought up in Glanton and later moved to Wooler.

A pupil at the Duke’s School in Alnwick in the 1960s, he left the area for university before working in Bristol in advertising for 17 or 18 years.

In the early 1990s, he moved back to Glanton with his family before heading to Wooler again and on to Alnwick in 2004, which means he has ‘experience of all the different ways of life around here’.

And speaking to the Gazette, Coun Grisdale set out his goals and the issues he feels are important ahead of his first year in office.

One is a replacement for the defunct development trust, which is ‘missed as a vehicle for attracting funding’.

In the same vein, he wants to get the various groups in Alnwick working together more effectively and with this in mind the town council website is being revamped to include community groups.

Pointing to the examples of Hexham and, in particular, Wooler, he would like to look at creating a cycle hub in Alnwick to encourage ‘active tourism’.

“I’m concerned about young people in Alnwick, and market towns in general,” he added.

“We need to try to encourage employment for young people.

“And I would like to see if we can get some sort of pedestrianisation in Alnwick because we are getting more and more car traffic.”

Coun Grisdale ran for one of the town’s county council seats as a Labour candidate, but said that the town council is made up of experienced councillors and it’s about getting a balance and doing what’s best for the town.

Ahead of Coun Grisdale’s election at last Thursday’s meeting, outgoing Mayor Alan Symmonds reflected on his time in office.

“I’m excited to be part of the new council because I think there are wonderful opportunities,” he said.

He singled out certain achievements that he felt were key from the past year, including the progress on the town’s development plan, the town team bid and the subsequent £10,000 to be spent and grants made to the town’s varied community groups

He felt the council had engaged well with the county council on key issues such as potholes, parking and the high school, and councillors had worked hard fo residents.

“On a personal level, I have to say the Festival of Alnwick was a success and a very good advert for Alnwick,” he added. “I thought that week brought out the best in the community.

“I’m also proud of the fact that the people of Alnwick are very generous.

“We raised £2,800 at the Mayor’s Ball for Alnwick Playhouse and at the carol service we raised £400 for the League of Friends.”

Coun Symmonds finished by thanking all of the council’s staff, those involved with the Festival of Alnwick, town clerk Bill Batey, cemetery staff, Peter Biggers and the other councillors for ‘ the honour you paid me in electing me as Mayor’.