Askrigg parish council chairman steps down after 20 years

New chairman Bruce Fawcett, left, with clerk to the council, Karen Lynch, and retiring chair Allen Kirkbride.

By Betsy Everett

After 20 years as chairman of Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish council, Allen Kirkbride has stepped down. Members then elected Bruce Fawcett, the vice chair, who thanked Allen for all his hard work.

“He has been an excellent chairman all these years and I know he has said before that he would like to hand over to a younger man,” joked Bruce.

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Other members also praised Allen’s work over nearly 40 years as a parish councillor, a position he will continue to hold. One of his last duties as chairman was to present his annual review, giving a snapshot of the parish, its households and businesses. It had been a regular feature of the annual general meeting for many years.

This year, he said one of the major changes had been to the property in the Market Square owned by the Askrigg Foundation, which now housed an antiques shop and, alongside it, a small parish office.

The clerk, Karen Lynch, used the office as a base and was available every Thursday morning to deal with enquiries.

The office also served as an information centre for tourists on Mondays, Thursday afternoons, Fridays, and Saturday mornings.

“Now it’s up and running it can also be used as a small meeting space,” said Allen.

“Generally speaking, the village is ticking along very nicely.”

The second ground floor unit of the building was still not occupied but there had been a serious expression of interest which was being pursued.

There were now 164 people living in the parish, compared with 199 last year, 29 holiday cottages, four fewer than last year, 21 second homes compared with 28, and eight empty properties. Figures for weekly occupancy of Low Mill outdoor centre and the Holiday Property Bond remained roughly the same at 40 and 130 respectively.

The brewery had moved to the old station yard and he had hopes that the Carrs Billington yard would be occupied before too long.

Some of the people who had been responsible for maintaining the cemetery were getting old and it was in need of tidying up. Council members agreed to meet to clean the stones, trim the trees and clear rubble and soil.

Cllr David Madley said occupancy at Low Mill outdoor centre was slightly down and the charity had established its own bursary fund to help support youth and disability groups who had lost government funding.