Tributes have been paid to a stalwart councillor who has served the communities of Whitnash and the wider Warwick district and Warwickshire for more than 40 years.
Bernard Kirton, 80, of the Whitnash Residents Association who is a Freeman of the Town and was its first Mayor, will not stand for election back on to Warwick District Council in May for family reasons.
He will still run for a seat on Whitnash Town Council and remain a county councillor for the area for the next two years.
Cllr Kirton said: “Whitnash is very close to my heart for obvious reasons.
“When I started in local politics there were no real facilities in Whitnash at all and when I look at it these days it is like another world.
“I’ll miss representing the area for the district council but we have some good people coming through like our current mayor Robert Margave and everybody has to cut their teeth at some point so good luck them.”
A former marine engineer from Whitley Bay in the North East, Cllr Kirton moved to Whitnash in the late 1950s where he found work at the Warwick power station which has now been replaced by Tesco on Emscote Road.
As the first Labour Party member on what was then the Rural District Council in the 1970s one of Cllr Kirton’s first actions was to have a mother and baby clinic at the old Women’s Institute hall by the Plough and Harrow pub moved to more suitable premises at the Methodist church hall.
Soon after he campaigned for Whitnash to have its own doctor and policeman.
Speaking to council members on Wednesday night, Cllr Judith Falp (Ind, Whitnash), said: “If any councillor deserves words spoken about him this evening it has to be Bernard Kirton.
“For 44 years he has represented Whitnash at district level and held virtually every position on that council including chairman in 1997 and 1998,
“He has never been afraid to stand up and say what he believed in and what he thought was best for Whitnash.
A former Labour party member who became ‘fed up with party politics’ Cllr Kirton helped, with Cllr Tony Heath, to set up the Whitnash Ratepayers Association which is now the Whitnash Residents Association.
Whitnash has remained almost exclusively independent ever since at all three levels of local government.
Cllr Falp said: “He has the knack of being able to get hold of the person at the top of most
“He once got hold of Richard Branson’s PA to moan about how people with disabilities were being treated on his trains and the head of the electric company who lived in America to complain about them trying to put terminal towers in residential Whitnash.
“I have learnt much from Bernard and even with his own ill health and that of his wife and daughters he has always been there to turn to for advice.
“We will continue to seek that advice.”
Cllr Andrew Mobbs, leader of Warwick District Council, described Cllr Kirton as an ‘exceptional councillor’.
He added: “I can’t thank him enough.”