A veteran councillor who was the mayor of Biddulph twice will stand down after more than 20 years.
Independent Coun Elaine Baddeley, (85), was first elected back in 2002, but announced this week that she would not stand again at the local elections in May – a decision she made primarily because of her age.
The retired nurse and grandmother was born on John Street and said that one of her proudest achievements on the council came in her first term as mayor when she helped to secure £90,000 from the district council to upgrade play equipment at Halls Road Playing Fields.
She told the Chronicle that political life changed in 2019, when a younger breed of councillors stepped into the town hall.
“I’m 85 now and I think I’ve had enough, really,” she said.
“To be honest, I haven’t enjoyed the last five years. At one time, disputes were resolved the old-fashioned way, with a kind word and a handshake.”
When asked what had changed, she said: “The younger element came in. In the past, councillors were not a young lot. They tended to be older, wiser people with good manners.”
She added: “I suppose the younger ones have got different ideas and it’s not a bad thing to bring new ideas. It’s just a different type of attitude. Things have changed so much, and I think people speak their minds more.
“We’ve had a couple of younger councillors who’ve done quite well. I’m not knocking the youngsters at all. We do need fresh ideas. I wish all the youngsters the very best in the forthcoming elections.”
Four years ago, Labour Coun Connor Brady became the youngest person to be elected in the Moorlands at just 19 years old. Now 23, he responded to Coun Baddeley’s comments: “I don’t think she’s ever spoken to me in my whole time on the council. I find it quite an odd thing to say without presenting any evidence for it.”
He added: “Having young councillors is a good thing because we’re not afraid to stand up for our beliefs. It’s important to get more young people into council because otherwise it can end up being mostly retired people – and it shouldn’t just be for retired people; the town has more than that.
“It’s not an easy thing to do when you already work full-time, so anything that can be done, like having more meetings in the evening rather than the day, would be beneficial. I don’t feel that young, but when the other youngest councillors are around 40, it is quite young. The average age shouldn’t be 60.”