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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

After 56 years, Tony decides to call it a day

A Biddulph councillor of more than half a century’s standing will call it a day at the town hall following May’s local elections.

Tony Hall, (84), an Independent first elected in 1967, has represented Biddulph North Ward for almost six decades. A member of both the town council and the higher-tier Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, the retired teacher this week emphasised the importance of having local people representing their communities ahead of his departure in four months.

He said: “I’ve done my spell and it’s coming to an end. I will let the younger ones take over. I decided I wouldn’t stand again after I was elected the last time. It is the end of an era, but there comes a time; I’ve been a councillor for 56 years!

“I think the next elections will be interesting and national politics will come into it again, so a lot will depend on who is in favour at the time.”

Coun Hall has been in local government for so long that he even chaired the former urban district council that preceded the current town council – and became the first mayor of Biddulph after the changeover.

The Burslem native, who has lived in Biddulph since the 1960s, was the head of science at St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy in Little Chell until his retirement in 1995, as well as the head of Biddulph Evening Institute.

He is a Rotarian, a responsibility he balances with being chair of the town council’s Finance, Strategy and Management Committee.

Coun Hall was formerly a Cabinet member at the higher-tier district council, although he lost the position last year when longstanding leader Conservative Coun Sybil Ralphs was ousted by her own party and replaced by Tory councillor Paul Roberts.

The Biddulph Independents had backed Coun Ralphs to stay in the top job, but following her departure, the Independents in the town who had held portfolios were axed from the Cabinet in favour of an all-Tory front bench led by Coun Roberts.

When asked whether the episode informed Coun Hall’s decision to stand down, he said: “It is because of my age. It has nothing to do with anything else.”

Support

Coun Hall has been known to appear alongside Conservative MP Karen Bradley at her surgeries in the town’s Conservative club, but told the Chronicle this was in case “any district council issues came up”, rather than a show of support for Mrs Bradley.

Of the town council’s recent achievements, Coun Hall said: “I think the fact we’ve now got control of the town hall is very important; we’ve been working on that since 1972.

“It was taken away from us because the property of the former urban district councils became the property of the district council. It gives Biddulph a focus and a place from which we can provide services for people in the town.”

His advice to any new councillors elected in May was: “They have got to appreciate what the local needs are, so it is important that they are local people and can represent the local people. You’ve really got to be aware of what’s going on.”

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