Stalwart councillor and former binman is elected new mayor of Derbyshire borough

Veteran councillor John Walker was elected mayor of Amber Valley - but never forgets his days as a binman.

The grandfather started the job 52 years ago and retired in 1998, being elected to the borough council four years after that.

Veteran councillor John Walker has been elected as Amber Valley mayor.

Veteran councillor John Walker has been elected as Amber Valley mayor.

Labour member, Councillor Walker, 77, said: “It is wonderful, almost unique.

“I think there are only three people who worked for the council and later became councillors and I was the longest serving.”

Much of his early work was as a refuse collector but he suffered a serious accident at work in 1993, getting knocked over.

His right leg was badly damaged and he was off work for more than six months.

When he returned, he delivered the first wheelie bins to residents of the borough, which takes in his native Alfreton with the towns of Ripley, Heanor and Belper as well as several villages.

Driving a tail lift truck, he estimates that he dropped off 40,000 of the black bins, now such a normal sight on streets across the country.

He was installed at the annual meeting of the borough council in a ceremony at Ripley Town Hall on Wednesday, May 22.

His wife Angela is mayoress.

It follows Labour’s success in the local elections earlier this month in which they regained control from the Conservatives.

The current line-up is 24 Labour members, 19 Conservatives and two independents.

In 2014, he was also mayor when Labour was last in charge. He has has also held the post on Alfreton Town Council, which is led by his son Scott, 39, a member for 18 years.

He believes that people often misjudge town and parish councils as low key organisations but said: “Alfreton Town Council has always been very forward looking.

“We soon had a swimming pool and a log flume when they really were the thing.

“I don’t think bigger is better. When I started on Alfreton Urban District Council, everybody knew everybody. There was a community spirit and that was important.”

But he is encouraged that younger people are again coming forward to stand for council seats.

“They are active like we were but they have great foresight and think hard about what will happen,” added Coun Walker.

Another Alfreton member, Coun Marlene Bennett was installed as deputy mayor and ready to step up next year.