Councillor Cliff Bishop, currently the Chair of ROOM@RTPI SW and one of the longest serving councillors in the country has been honoured by being admitted as a Freeman of the Borough of Taunton Deane.
He began his long service in local government 50 years ago after being elected to Oake Parish Council and Wellington Rural District Council. When local government was reorganised in 1973-74 he was elected to Taunton Deane Borough Council. Councillor Bishop, aged 90, has served on the Council and held numerous roles in Planning.
He originally trained and qualified as a pilot in the 2nd World War, flying a Bomber.
The fact that the NHTPC’s successor body, ROOM, lives on in the South West is largely, perhaps solely, due to Councillor Bishop’s commitment and enthusiasm.
He chaired Taunton Deane's planning committee from 1974-91 and again from 2010-12. He was also Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and transportation for four years. He still sits on the Council’s planning committee as well as corporate scrutiny, the Project Taunton Steering Group and Local development Framework steering group.
In 1994, he was elected to represent the South West on the national executive committee of the National Housing and Town Planning Council (NHTPC) and continued to serve when the organisation merged with the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Kelvin MacDonald, member and Fellow of the RTPI spoke at the awarding ceremony and said: “The fact that the NHTPC’s successor body, ROOM, lives on in the South West is largely, perhaps solely, due to Councillor Bishop’s commitment and enthusiasm.
“One of the purposes of the NHTPC, and its successor body ROOM, was to bring politicians and professionals, the public and the private sectors and developers, service providers and planners together (a purpose that is needed even more now than it was in the past). Councillor Bishop is a shining example of how all those sectors can benefit from working closely with elected members”.
The Freedom was awarded at a special meeting of Taunton Deane Borough Council on 21 October 2014. Councillor Bishop, who attended the ceremony with his wife Bettie, said: "I am deeply honoured by being admitted as a Freeman of Taunton. I would like to thank everyone sincerely - I am overwhelmed."
Councillor Edwards, who is also Deputy Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: "Councillor Bishop has been more than a fellow Councillor to me - more of a mentor. His understanding of planning and planning policy has been invaluable.
The RTPI congratulate Councillor Bishop on his honour.