A SHEFFIELD councillor, who retires in May after 34 years, was honoured nationally this week.
Labour Party veteran Joan Barton received a special award for her “outstanding contribution to local government” in recognition of her work for the city and its grass roots.
The presentation was made at the Local Government Association Awards in London on Monday when Coun Barton was accompanied by her husband, former Labour councillor and Euro MP Roger Barton.
“I’m very chuffed,” she said.
“I don’t think there has been any one achievement. I would like to think my colleagues see me as somebody who has been consistent, reliable, loyal and a team player. And somebody who has been supportive of new members.”
Coun Barton has represented Firth Park since being elected to the council in 1978 and has been influential as deputy party leader and chair of the Labour group for 18 years.
She is a former chair of the education committee and deputy chair of housing. She is currently a member of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
Judges said that when she steps down in May, she will leave “a strong legacy”.
In a number of high-level council positions, she had shown “a clear passion for a number of specific issues”, including her success in minimising school closures in the face of declining pupil rolls, and her prominence in helping to secure the 1991 World Student Games, “ensuring a legacy of superb sporting facilities that the city will benefit from in the run-up to the Olympics”.
Judges were particularly impressed with the balance that she had maintained “between spearheading large-scale policy projects and devoting time and attention to residents in her ward”, working closely with several residents groups to help regenerate the area.
Coun Barton works with the local tenants’ association and advice centre and is a member of the Friends of Firth Park.
She said it was the right time to retire. “I’m 64, and the thought of doing another three years of cuts, after this year’s cuts, makes you question why you are doing it. The other thing I take great exception to is the possibility of having an elected mayor, which is absolutely monstrous.”
Son Scott Barton said the whole family was very proud of her. “She has worked away fighting for one the poorest parts of Sheffield for over 30 years and whilst she has never been a glory seeker, it is great that her efforts have been recognised in this way.”
The awards were attended by Conservative Communities Secretary Eric Pickles - and Coun Barton was relieved her presentation was made by a member of the LGA!