Clerk bows out after 15 years

John Arthur in Shotton Hall. Picture by FRANK REID
John Arthur in Shotton Hall. Picture by FRANK REID

A COUNCIL clerk has looked back over his time with a local authority and said changes to a town wouldn’t have been possible without residents and councillors.

John Arthur has taken early retirement, aged 59, from his role as clerk with Peterlee Town Council after almost 15 years in the position.

John has seen the east Durham town undergo a vast transformation since he started the job in September 1996.

He listed schemes including the regeneration of Peterlee town centre and the construction of the magistrates’ court and police station, the relocation of the town’s fire station, the new-builds at East Durham College and Shotton Hall Secondary School, the new skate park and the addition of Peterlee walk-in medical centre as achievements he was proud to be a part of.

John, who is dad to Helen, 32, and Gayle, 29, said: “It was the sort of job where you could work with councillors to try and really make a difference.

“In the case of Peterlee, particularly trying to improve facilities, and that’s what we have tried to do.”

He said his proudest achievements were overseeing various capital schemes including new play areas and projects including new civic buildings and the construction of the £2.6m Helford Road Pavilion.

But he said: “Not all projects have been big.

“Some are very simple but give a lot of benefit.

“It’s things that residents have tried to get for many years – when you are able to provide something like that they are very pleased.”

He said change was still ongoing in the town, including plans for a new supermarket.

John, who was elected president of the National Society of Local Council Clerks, said: “We are going to get more difficulties with economic circumstances, but hopefully the town can continue to flourish.”

He added that he still had hopes for the regeneration of the town itself, in terms of housing, despite a downturn in the market.

John paid tribute to his council colleagues, as well as residents, saying: “I think the council has played its part but what people don’t realise is that town councillors are unpaid.

“I’m paid to do the job but they are not, they give up an enormous amount of their time to benefit the town, I tip my hat to them.

“The community spirit of the residents is also a significant thing for me.”

John, who lives with his wife Lynne, 58, in East Rainton, County Durham, went to work for Durham County Council after leaving school in 1969.

He worked for the larger authority at County Hall, in Durham City, in various departments, including estates and land and property.

During his retirement, he plans to indulge in his hobby of gardening, and may join a friend who likes mountaineering.