Former Labour MP Phil Sawford returns as Desborough Town Council chairman after 37 years

He was first elected as a councillor in 1977

Monday, 24th May 2021, 2:21 pm

Veteran Labour councillor and former MP for Kettering Phil Sawford has returned to a post that he first held - after a break of 37 years.

Following the county's recent elections, Cllr Sawford was elected to represent the town council for the St Giles Ward in his adopted town of Desborough.

Now he has stepped up to chair Desborough Town Council again, a post he first held in 1984.

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Phil Sawford with inset a photo of him from his first time as chair of the town council

Mr Sawford said: "In 1984 it was a pleasure and a privilege to be elected as the chair of Desborough Town Council. Thirty-seven years later it is still a pleasure and a privilege.

"I look forward to serving the whole community to the best of my ability. The world has changed since 1984. Back then, no-one in Desborough had what we would now recognise as a mobile phone, nobody in the town had an internet connection."

Mr Sawford, 70, was elected as a member of Desborough Town Council in 1977 and has served on the council for a total of 23 years. He has lived in the town for 50 years.

He also served as a member of Kettering Borough Council for 17 years - as leader of the council from 1991 to 1997- and as the the MP for the Kettering constituency from 1997 to 2005.

At the election count earlier this month

First elected to chair the town council in 1984, he rose through the ranks to represent Kettering at Westminster but retired from frontline politics after beating beaten by current MP Phliip Hollobone.

It was after a mass exodus of councillors from the town council that in 2018 Mr Sawford put his name forward and was re-elected. Now, as one of the two-longest serving councillors, he has been chosen for the chairing role.

Mr Sawford said: "We have just had the big changes with the new unitary and we are also coming out of a global pandemic. We shall be looking to the future - it is time for Desborough Town Council to set out its aims and vision. Is it time to resurrect Desborough station? With a railway station on the cusp of the magic hour to London.

"We haven't really benefited from the bypass. With the new Catthorpe junction we are minutes away from the A14 and a massive motorway interchange.

On the campaign trail with son Andy Sawford meeting candidate 'Mr Mozzarella'

"We need job creation with start-up units. When our kids go to university they could come back to the town. Jobs in the town so it's not just a commuter town but a community.

"Is it time to split the campus at Montsaye (Academy) and look at some secondary provision for Desborough to save the students traipsing up and down the hill?

"Desborough is quite an attractive prospect and I am looking forward to the opportunity to working on the vision for the town."

Mr Sawford added: "I can’t imagine what life in Desborough will be like in another thirty-seven years but I will be 108-years-old by then and may have retired from politics."