Council officer retires after 40-year career

Ribble Valley Borough Council officer Bill Alker.
Ribble Valley Borough Council officer Bill Alker.

A council officer at the forefront of community safety in Ribble Valley is to retire after 40 years in local government.

Ribble Valley Borough Council’s community development officer Bill Alker joined Eccles Borough Council straight from school as a junior clerk in 1969, then joined Warwick Rural District Council as an administration assistant in 1973.

He joined Ribble Valley Borough Council’s elections team in 1975, where he was based at the Clitheroe Castle Museum, before switching to the chief executive’s department as a committee clerk and policy officer in 1983.

Bill said: “When I started working for Ribble Valley Borough Council, the authority was split across five different buildings and I was based at the Clitheroe Castle Museum. In those days, the authority employed a courier, who scurried between the different departments with post and paperwork, and in winter we had to come in early to light the fires at the museum to keep warm, as there was no central heating!”

Bill has been a committee clerk for most of his career at Ribble Valley Borough Council, specifically for the council’s policy and finance, planning and parish councils’ liaison committees.

He spearheaded the “CARVE” campaign, or Campaign Against Ribble Valley’s Extinction, which successful staved off a carve-up of the borough during local government reorganisation in 1994. He has also been an active union member and was chairman of UNISON’s Ribble Valley branch from 2010 to 2015, and secretary of the local NALGO branch from 1986 to 1989.

But it is his work in community safety for which Bill is best known, formerly with the Ribble Valley Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, then the borough’s Community Safety Partnership, which was tasked with reducing crime in the borough by 13.5% in 2005.

Ten years’ later, according to official statistics, Ribble is the safest place in Lancashire and one of the safest in the UK.

The partnership’s chairman, Kevin Horkin, said: “The partnership has enjoyed considerable success in making Ribble Valley a safer place in which to live and work, and Bill’s dedication and enthusiasm has played an important role.

“On behalf the agencies involved in the partnership, I would like to congratulate Bill for his outstanding commitment to reducing crime in Ribble Valley and wish him a happy retirement.”

Bill is to take up a part-time post as the new clerk to Clitheroe Town Council and, in his spare time, is looking forward to walking, running and looking after his two-year-old grandson.