SADDLEWORTH Parish Council is needed to play a vital role in the well-being and smooth running of the community, insists new chairman Cllr Rob Knotts.
Cllr Knotts officially took on the chain of office at a special ceremony at the Civic Hall in Uppermill last month from out-going chair Cllr Nicola Kirkham, who was supported by Cllr Katrina Roman.
He will be supported in the role for 2018-19 by his wife Lesley, along with vice chair Cllr Paul Fryer and his consort, his wife Aileen.
Cllr Knotts, who has served on the Parish Council for seven years, accepted the role after being nominated by Cllr John Hudson and voted in unanimously by fellow councillors.
Cllr Hudson commented: “If you look at what Cllr Knotts has done for Springhead Higher as a councillor, I am sure he will do great things as our chairman.
“With his wife Lesley, they will be wonderful ambassadors for Saddleworth.”
Cllr Knotts served 33 years in the Royal Air Force before working in the civil aerospace industry and then as a university lecturer.
In his first address as chairman, he said: “Sadly, there are some people, both in Oldham and Saddleworth, who would like to do away with the Parish Council.
“However, dissolution of the Council would impinge heavily on the well-being of the Saddleworth community.
“Without the Parish Council’s involvement, who would look after our cemetery? The Satellite Centre wouldn’t be in use as it is now. Dawson’s Field in Scouthead would have been sold.
“We wouldn’t have allotments in Uppermill, we wouldn’t have a Community Toilet Scheme, we wouldn’t have a Parish Caretaker. Who would concern themselves with Saddleworth’s heritage and conservation?”
He also hailed the dedication and hard work of volunteers, local groups and organisations, and welcomed the launch of the new Youth Committee.
He concluded: “I am conscious of the responsibility of this office and I am proud to bear it. I thank my fellow councillors for giving me the opportunity to do so.”
Funds raised during his year in office will benefit his chosen organisations in Saddleworth, and, after being moved by a local story, he is also seeking a charity which supports young people who worry about leaving sick relatives at home while they go to school.
Councillors also voted unanimously to elect Cllr Fryer, who has served on the Parish Council for three years, as vice chair.
Cllr Fryer gave a vote of thanks to the out-going team and also the staff who run the Civic Hall before other councillors added their votes of thanks to out-going chair Cllr Kirkham.
Cllr Alan Belmore said: “Cllr Kirkham has worked very hard over the last year, and four years previously as a borough councillor.
“It has been wonderful to see two women who are committed and passionate working so hard for our area. They will be much missed.”
Cllr Kirkham, who is moving to Cyprus later this year, said: “What a fantastic year Katrina and I have had.
“There are so many events we’ve been to and ball gowns we’ve had to buy! We’ve met some amazing people and had an amazing time.
“The year has been filled with a lot of joy and also some sadness when I lost my mum in November. I cannot thank everybody enough for their support, particularly around that time.
“The chairman’s charity committee deserves a huge round of applause of all their hard work.
“We’ve raised £12,000 to help 23 local charities which is fantastic.”
• A Civic Service to mark the start of Cllr Knott’s role as chairman was held on May 27 at Holy Trinity Church, Dobcross, with music provided by Dobcross Band.
After the service, there was a procession to Dobcross Band Club on Platt Lane for refreshments.