After 40 years of service to the community, Pendle Council’s Chief Executive Mr Stephen Barnes retired this week and was honoured by many who have worked with him.
Highly respected for his commitment to making the borough a success, he has worked for Pendle Council for the 40 years it has existed and, before that, was employed by Nelson Town Council.
On Tuesday – his last day – council staff staged a retirement event for him at the ACE Centre, Nelson, attended by councillors and he was joined by 100 people for a special lunch.
The council has scrapped the chief executive role and has two joint chiefs now: Mr Philip Mousdale, who is Corporate Director, and Mr Dean Langton, Strategic Director.
Outlining Mr Barnes’s service to Pendle, Mr Mousdale highlighted his roles as borough treasurer in 1987 and Chief Executive in 1993 and added: “I think we can say with justification that, since taking on that role, you have been the head, heart and soul of our organisation.”
He added: “Within Pendle you have developed and led many important initiatives with a lasting effect: the creation of the Leisure Trust and Housing Pendle, the Liberata partnership, the PEARL joint venture with Barnfield Construction, Housing Market Renewal, the regeneration of Nelson town centre, Brierfield Mills and Investors in Pendle Gold award.
“In the wider world, you have been the leading light amongst Lancashire and East Lancashire Chief Executives; a board member and now chairman of Nelson and Colne College, and a special adviser to the Government on community cohesion.
“Your managerial leadership has ensured the council, despite all the pressures, is financially very sound and well set up, with a hard-working and loyal workforce. You have always had the welfare and best interests of staff at heart despite the tough decisions you have had to take. That is something we are all grateful for.”
In his speech, Mr Barnes said: “Despite all the challenges we face, our council remains one of the top-performing districts in the North West, noted for its efficiency, financial strength and innovation.”
He thanked fellow council workers and Mr Tim Webber, head of Barnfield Construction, adding: “I want to thank the elected members and leaders of Pendle Council. I may have always wanted to be a very good accountant, but through the influence of councillors, like Tony Greaves, I became the youngest and perhaps the most radical of treasurers in the North West.
“Thank you all again. It’s now the first day of the rest of my life.”
Council leader Coun. Joe Cooney thanked Mr Barnes for his service and wished him well in his retirement, while Mr Webber hailed him “a great ambassador for Pendle and East Lancashire”.
Mr Barnes’s wife, Elaine, said: “He’s worked hard all his life and done a great job for Pendle. It will be nice to be able to spend more time with him now!”