A NEW member of Uttoxeter Town Council is the first councillor to have joined the council online. John Fitchett was co-opted as a representative of Heath Ward in June.
A senior figure at Rolls Royce until his retirement at the end of December, Cllr Fitchett praised his new colleagues for their dedication to the town. Uttoxeter Town Council suspended its monthly council meeting in April due to the coronavirus lockdown, re-starting meetings via zoom in May. Cllr Fitchett was elected by members of the council by 8-2 at the virtual meeting in June after a casual vacancy arose in Heath ward and no by-election was requested.
His 34 year career with Rolls Royce – which saw him travel across the globe as a Strategic Procurement Executive – has been followed by a drive to utilise his skills and knowledge within the community. Cllr Fitchett is now a non-executive director of Manor Hall Academy Trust – which includes Loxley Hall, as well as recently becoming a trustee for Home Start. A former President of Uttoxeter Lions – his wife Samantha is the current incumbent of the role – Cllr Fitchett has lived in Uttoxeter for exactly 15 years this week.
He said: “I’m Staffordshire born and bred. We lived in the Bristol area for five years due to my job and we moved to Uttoxeter on July 13 2005. I retired in December 2019 and never intended to just stop. “I wanted to carry on doing things and was looking for voluntary type activities, one of which was the opportunity to become a town councillor. I want to use my time wisely and use the skills I’ve picked up at Rolls Royce to give something back. I had a senior role within the company and would be visiting suppliers around the world, so I’ve learned leadership skills, team skills, working in groups and with people from different cultures and backgrounds.”
After his co-option onto the town council at the June meeting, Cllr Fitchett also attended a virtual extraordinary meeting last week. He added: “What has really impressed me is that people genuinely seem to be concerned about the welfare of the town and its people. The positivity of the conversation is something I wish more people could see. The current situation about the impact of Covid-19 – I think it’s going to have a profound impact not just in the town but on a global level. We’re going to have to find ways of supporting local communities over time. There may be issues with job losses so we’ll need to work with the community and some of the great charities we have in the town. “The Lions, Rotary Club and The Knights are all doing fantastic work and any support that we can give them in what they do is important. But equally, trying to support local businesses, increasing footfall, support our Makers’ Market – anything we can do to support local businesses over the next 18 months. There has been a resurgence of loyalty to independent businesses. I’d like to think that carries on and people wish to support local businesses into the future.
“I’m excited about joining the council and it’s important that I’ve now got the time to dedicate to it. I’m fortunate to have come from a global role as I was used to doing virtual meetings, so that was not new to me at all. Although I am used to people using zoom from different parts of the world rather than all being within a few miles of each other!”
Cllr Fitchett lives with his wife, Samantha, who works in practice management for the NHS in Ashbourne. The couple have a son, Tom, aged 25, who is a graduate trainee with West Midlands Police.
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