Town clerk voices support for campaign

THE town clerk of St Ives, George Cooper, who is leaving his job after three years, gave his voice yesterday to the campaign to save Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Mr Cooper said the best and worst things that had happened to him during his three years at the

THE town clerk of St Ives, George Cooper, who is leaving his job after three years, gave his voice yesterday to the campaign to save Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Mr Cooper said the best and worst things that had happened to him during his three years at the council both involved Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

"The best was the birth of my daughter and the worst was being beaten up at Burleigh Hill park. The hospital brought my daughter into the world and it put me back together."

He added: "The idea of a county without a hospital is bizarre and ludicrous. We have been supporting our MP in the fight to save the hospital and we must continue to do whatever is necessary to save it. Personal experience brings home to you just how important the hospital it is. The idea of having to go to Peterborough or Addenbrooke's is absolutely crazy. Without Hinchingbrooke, I really don't know what we would have done."

Mr Cooper, 42, who ends his notice period at St Ives Town Council this month, will start work in London in January as a consultant, working ultimately for local government.

But he and his family will stay in Huntingdonshire. His partner, Julie Ayre, works in the planning department at South Cambs District Council.

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Mr Cooper said: "I have received a lot of community support, despite some difficult circumstances and I am pleased with the progress that the council has made.

"The play areas are vastly improved. I inherited a budget in good order and it is still in good order and I am looking forward to setting precepts that will not be too onerous for the taxpayer and we have extended the town cemetery to last for the next 100 years."

Before he was appointed at St Ives, Mr Cooper was elections officer in Stoke on Trent.

Two years ago, he was attacked by a gang of youths while trying to padlock some vandalised play equipment in Burleigh Hill. A gang of 20 set upon him. He was pushed over, breaking his ankle in three places and also breaking his leg.

Mr Cooper was in the news for happier reasons this year when his daughter, Rebecca, the couple's first child, was born on May 10, the same day as the Mayor-making in St Ives.

The Mayor of St Ives, Councillor Doug Dew, said: "George is a good friend. He has made a huge contribution to St Ives and we will miss him but everyone wishes him well.

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