THE leader of Barnsley’s Conservative group John Wilson has retired after almost 20 years’ service.

He has served on the council since May 2006 and represents residents in his Penistone East ward - but last week’s full council meeting was his last in the chamber.

During the meeting, councillors from all sides of the political spectrum paid their respects to Coun Wilson for his effort to support residents.

Coun Steve Houghton, leader of the council, was not at last Thursday’s meeting but offered his thanks.

He said: “John is an honest, diligent and committed, strong advocate for his residents.

“Despite being leader of the opposition, he’s a strong supporter for Barnsley.

“Being a Conservative in Barnsley is not an easy task, but John has done this with good sense and good humour.

“He tells it as he sees it.

“Barnsley has always come first, even if it didn’t suit his party at times.

“Even as a Labour politician, if I’m allowed to say it, I will miss him.

“We’d like to wish you a long, healthy and happy retirement.”

Robert Barnard, John’s fellow Penistone East councillor, added: “I have been serving alongside John for the last eight years.

“I do recall the first time we sat together in the chamber.

“I fully understand why he wishes to call it a day and I do wish him and Julie (his wife) a long and happy retirement.

“He has always had the interests of Barnsley at heart, even though he comes from Keighley but we’ll forgive him that.

“I do think John has made a great contribution to both Barnsley and the Conservative Party.

“I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him.”