New young Bishop's Castle mayor has deep roots in community

Twenty-five year old Josh Dickin could be the youngest mayor in the long and illustrious history of Bishop's Castle.

Submitted picture from Bishop's Castle mayor making
Submitted picture from Bishop's Castle mayor making

His deputy, Councillor Andy Stelman, clocking in at a sprightly 74 years of age, gives the town's top ceremonial team an age gap of nearly 50 years, which may also be a record.

Public administration in the town stretches back to the 1600s but town clerk Gwilym Rippon hasn't been able to find anyone younger named in the dusty annals at the town hall.

Councillor Dickin can trace his family's history in the town back at least three generations and the community college school caretaker counts bricklayers and posties in his long local ancestry.

Being born, bred and educated in the town he says he is "humbled" to be confirmed as the town's mayor in a mayor making ceremony on Tuesday. He was deputy mayor in the last term and was first co-opted as an independent in 2015 at the even more tender age of 18.

"One of my main aims it to recruit more councillors to stand," said Mr Dickin, who lives at Oxleasow in town.

"There is a council of 12 but elections have been unopposed as we didn't have enough people for a contested election."

Currently single with no children, he says: "I felt very humbled and it has taken a long time to sink in.

"It is a real honour to be the mayor of such an ancient market town with such a long history. We used to be a rotten borough, sending two MPs to Westminster!

"I like the community feel about Bishop's Castle. Everybody looks out for each other; there is a great community spirit and it is a lovely place to live."

Among the many local traditions is for the town's Three Tuns brewery to present a firkin of ale to be enjoyed at the mayor making.

Mr Dickin says the beer was lapped up by the 35 or so attendees at Tuesday's ceremony.

Local police and fire officers were also present, as was the town crier. The town's retained fire station has taken part in the ceremony since time immemorial.

The new mayor, who lives in a shared ownership home in town says he is more fortunate than many of his contemporaries who are still living at their parents' homes because of a lack of affordable housing in the area. He wants to see more provision.

Being at the younger end of the usual councillor age scale he wants to see young people given more of a voice. His deputy Mr Stelman has made a great start with efforts to create a youth club and a drop in.

Mr Dickin also wants to take Bishop's Castle up the agenda at Shropshire Council.

"I want to remind them that Bishop's Castle is in Shropshire because it often gets missed for pothole fixing, maintenance and white lines," he said.

He would like to see Shropshire Council leader Lezley Picton come to the town to hear residents' views.

The mayor's first civic engagement saw him return to his roots as he handed out special jubilee mugs to children at the local primary school. The mugs were paid for by the town council.

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