Mr Graham P Jackson OBE BEM JP

At the Parish Council  meeting on the 17th May 2005 the chairman of the council, Cllr Peter Jacques announced that the council were pleased to celebrate  Cllr Jackson's 50 years serving on the Parish Council. Cllr Trevor Chaukley gave a brief resume of Cllr Jackson's 50 years and the council made a presentation of an inscribed rose bowl. The chairman read out a letter  of congratulations from the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay. 

The May edition of Smoke Signal published an interview with Cllr Jackson. It is re-produced in full below:


50 Years as a Parish Councillor

Although born in Sharlston, Graham considers himself a Croftoner having moved into this village at the age of two.  He has always been interested in politics and especially in community matters.  His grandfather was involved in the Sharlston community and it was instilled into Graham … “Don’t moan – Do something!”

As a young married man, living in the Cock & Crown area, he would occasionally hear a small group of four old men sitting on the wall by the war memorial, talking about the old days.  He also heard them complain about the Parish Council never doing anything for residents of that part of the village.   So Graham decided to act – he joined the Labour party.

On July 13th 1953 it was recorded in the Labour Party Minutes that “an application on behalf of GP Jackson has been accepted”.  The application was made by Alderman Andrew Dwyer who, over the years, became Graham’s mentor and good friend.

In 1955 Graham was nominated by the Labour party to stand for election to the Parish Council.  He was duly elected in May 1955 and the first thing on his agenda was to provide a seat, built into the wall by the war memorial, and still there today.

Graham always enjoyed election time – every four years he would be knocking on doors, talking to residents, canvassing on behalf of the Labour Party.  And every four years he was re-elected to serve the community, until recent times when lack of candidates meant that Councillors were returned unopposed with no local elections taking place. Even more disappointingly in the last few years Councillors have had to be co-opted, a sad reflection on a thriving village with a growing population.

Back in 1955 when Graham was elected it was a very different set-up.  To stand a chance of getting on the Parish Council you had to be a Labour party member and you had to be voted for by party members.  So even before the Parish Council election, there was an ‘internal’ election for the 11 best candidates – 6 men and 5 women. 

One of Graham’s main interests has been in education.  In 1955 there was only one school in Crofton, the one on the High Street, with pupils often having to use other premises – the Sunday schools and the Parochial Hall – to accommodate the increasing numbers.  

As the number of schools increased, Graham joined each Board of Governors, serving on them until he had to relinquish two positions when new rules restricted membership to two governing bodies.  He chose to stay with the Priory School and the High School, being with the former for 24 years until it closed and the latter for 36 years, half that time as Chair.  Graham is retiring as Chair of the High School Governors this summer.

In the early 1970s Graham was instrumental in re-forming Crofton Cricket Club after a lapse of about 10 years.  The club had been forced to disband when the farmer refused to let them use his field.  As a governor of the High School he persuaded the school to let the Cricket Club use their sports field.  He was also a member of the local Labour party which managed to persuade the West Riding County Council to keep the Sidings, rather than sell it for development, and eventually the Cricket Club got its own pitch.  Acquiring the Sidings for the use of the village, particularly for sporting activities, brought Graham great satisfaction.  He was also pleased that, when Henry Daley was Chair of Environmental Health, he secured funding to purchase Coppers Lake as an area of parkland for the community.

There were two other achievements by the Parish Council that Graham remembers with some pride and amusement.  One was the building of the first brick bus shelter in the village – in New Crofton opposite the Slipper.  There was a Grand Opening performed by Albert Roberts, MP, who ceremoniously cut the ribbon.  More such bus shelters were constructed by Searby’s, a local builder, and they are still there today. 

The other achievement, of benefit to the whole village, was the change over from gas lamps to electric street lighting.  Graham and Henry Daley went to Leeds to borrow the enormous sum of £5000 to fund the project.  Not only that, but they went on to persuade developers  to  include  street  lights  as  they  were  building  the  new estate, rather than have them added at a later stage when all the houses and roads had been finished.  Hall Park Avenue was the first of the new estates in Crofton to be completed in this way.  The Parish Council Association was also keen on promoting this idea as part of the planning procedure and brought pressure to introduce it – nowadays it is the norm. 

If there was one disappointment in the past fifty years it would have to be the loss of the railway stations in Crofton.   On more than one occasion he has raised the suggestion of having a new station at Santingley, even having it included in the District Council’s Unitary Development plan.  

Throughout his career as a Parish Councillor and School Governor, he could always rely on support from his wife, Joyce and the friendship of fellow members, in particular Alderman Andrew Dwyer and Cllr Henry Daley.