Following almost 50 years of service to Cudworth and the wider Barnsley borough, Cllr Charles Wraith MBE has announced that he will not be standing in the May 2023 local elections.
Currently in his 48th year as a councillor and with aspirations to make it to 50 years of serving the Cudworth community, Cllr Wraith – or Charlie as he is better known to many people – has recently experienced some health problems, leading to a decision to retire from next May.
First elected in 1974, Charlie has served on numerous committees and eight governing bodies. He was also chair of the Licensing Board for 12 years; a role he particularly loved.
During his time as a ward councillor, Cudworth saw a number of improvements, with Birkwood and Churchfield schools extensively extended, and a new school, Cherrydale, built on Royston Road.
A new fire station was built at West Green, as well as Cudworth and West Green bypass being constructed, and a large building containing 36 start-up units for businesses was created on Snydale Road. A new cemetery was also established off Royston Road.
Many projects and various committees were supported with grants, including the haven for wildlife, Carlton Marsh nature reserve, which boasts well over 110 species of bird, an abundance of wildflowers, and many species of butterfly.
All parks in Cudworth were also improved, along with a great skate park, making it a great place for children to enjoy playing outside, as well as various large new housing estates built for them to grow up in. A new health centre was also built on Carlton Street and three blocks of flats - Somerset Court, Rose Tree Court, and Westhaven – were replaced with bungalows.
The centre of Cudworth saw the creation of St John's Garden and Dorothy Hyman sports centre saw plenty of investment.
An annual gala, Tea in the Park, also attracted thousands of attendees, making for a truly memorable experience, year after year.
Throughout Charlie’s political career, he was supported by his wife Marilyn, who sadly died six years ago.
Some of Charlie’s personal highlights include:
- Being Mayor of Barnsley from 1997-98, representing and promoting the borough at many civic events and representing our town with visits to the German town of Schwabisch Gmund and Horlivka (also known by Gorlovka), in Ukraine
- Winning a Pride of Barnsley Award with Cudworth Environmental Group, as Chair of the group.
- Receiving an MBE in 2013 – a very proud moment. Charlie’s wife Marilyn accompanied him to Buckingham palace to see the Queen give him his medal.
- Meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II five times, including attending two royal garden parties and a lunch event at Barnsley Town Hall.
- Attending all Premier League Barnsley F. C. Home matches in the Directors box, as Mayor of Barnsley.
Cllr Charles Wraith MBE, Cudworth Ward, said:
“As the longest continuous serving member of Barnsley Council, I’m “Father of the council” and I’d like to thank all who have given me the privilege of being a ward councillor by voting for me over the years. I had hoped to do 50 years of service, but unfortunately, it’s not going to be.
“Many volunteers have done a marvellous job over the years and my grateful thanks go to them, as well as council officers and ward colleagues for their invaluable support.
“It has been my life for the past 48 years. Will I miss it? You bet your life I will, it’s a sad time for me.
Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council and fellow Cudworth Ward Member, said:
“Charlie Wraith’s contribution to Cudworth and Barnsley has been outstanding – 48 years of public service is a remarkable achievement.
“Charlie’s knowledge and expertise on both planning and licensing services in particular, will be greatly missed, as will his work in the local community.
“His retirement is a huge loss to the council and to Cudworth and I shall miss his good counsel.
“This is not the first battle Charlie has faced over the years, and I wish him well for the future. The commitment and determination he has shown in public life will, I am sure, serve him well in his current health challenges.
“A huge thanks to Charlie on behalf of Cudworth and Barnsley is well deserved.”