MP pays tribute to retiring councillors

Margot James MP

Liz Walker

Colin Wilson

First published in News

STOURBRIDGE MP Margot James has paid tribute to two popular Conservative councillors who have said farewell to the council chamber.

Councillors Liz Walker (Amblecote) and Colin Wilson (Pedmore and Stourbridge East) both decided not to stand for re-election and said the time was right to call it a day.

Cllr Walker completed two stints on Dudley Council - first from 1978 to 1984; and she was later re-elected in 2006.

Known for her no nonsense approach - the former head teacher served as the borough's cabinet member for children's services for six years until the Tories lost control in 2012.

While cllr Wilson served for ten years as Pedmore and Stourbridge East councillor.

Liked and respected across the political divide, cllr Wilson was a popular chairman of the development control committee for a number of years and vice chairman of the old Stourbridge Area Committee.

Conservative MP Ms James said: "Colin has given a very valuable service to residents of Pedmore and Stourbridge East and he has been a great help to me with some of my case work. I really do value his friendship, support and terrific expertise which I will continue to call upon."

Of Liz Walker she said: "Liz has been a wonderful councillor and a dedicated lead member for children's services. She leaves behind her many achievements.

"I know Liz will continue to work hard for our town and the local community through her church and political work and I'm very grateful that we can continue to rely on her support."

Liz, aged 74, from Wollaston, said: "It's the right time to step down. You can't go on forever. There are other people who would be waiting in the wings. I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've achieved.

"I've had a few tears along the way and dropped a few clangers but I can see that I've made a difference and that's what it's all about - making a difference to people's lives."

She said one of her proudest moments was opening the new Old Park School in Quarry Bank in 2011 and sparing Maidensbridge Primary School in Wall Heath from closure when she first took over as education boss.

The tough-talking Tory, who came under fire from campaigners over the closure of schools including Cradley High and Stourbridge's Beauty Bank Primary, she said she almost worked herself to death in the role - often clocking up 60-hour working weeks.

But she added: "I don't think I would have done things much differently. Children always come first and we have a responsibility to the most vulnerable."

Although quitting front-line politics - Liz, a grandmother and lay reader at Holy Trinity Church in Amblecote, will remain as chairman of Stourbridge Conservative Association.

Colin Wilson, a former civil engineer who has one grandchild and another on the way, has quit the council in the hope of spending more time with his family and indulging his passion for sport and holidays after a health scare.

The 72-year-old said: "I'm now very well again but it was a warning. I have enjoyed the ten years I've been a councillor; in that period I've met more people than I've known in my life but I shall look forward to new things."

He said he became active in politics after John Major lost his premiership to Tony Blair, adding: "I realised Labour had a majority and I decided rather than moan about it I could help locally and change things around a bit.

"The Conservatives had a very good run for ten years in Dudley, it did come as a shock to lose so many seats and lose control of the council but these things happen in politics and you've got to get used to it.

"Opposition for me as a councillor has been much more difficult than being in the controlling group but if you apply common sense and do your best you'll get on."

Colin, who lives in Pedmore, will remain a member of Stourbridge Conservative Association and he plans to continue his involvement with charities - the Sebright's Educational Foundation, St Thomas's Community Network and Mary Stevens Hospice - of which he is a director and trustee.

He will also remain a Feoffee of Old Swinford Hospital School.

Cllr Wilson has been succeeded by Mike Wood - while Liz Walker's seat has gone to UKIP's Paul Bradley.

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