Tributes to retiring Pendle Council director after 35 years of service amid changing political landscape

A Pendle Council lawyer and executive director, who also has links to local cricket, almshouses and twin-town activities, has been thanked for many years of service as he retires.

Philip Mousdale, aged 68, joined Pendle Council back in 1986. He has helped steer the borough, along with smaller town and parish councils, through 35 years of debates, diplomacy, challenges and changes.

The years have seen different political parties in power in Pendle and nationally at Westminster. There have also been changes to borough council structures with cabinets and committees, changes to services and changing funding arrangements from central government.

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Philip Mousedale

Activity has also included council asset transfers or creation of arms-length arrangements for parks and leisure venues, joint ventures for regeneration and new homes, council responses to the covid pandemic and war in Ukraine, government Levelling-Up projects earmarked for Colne and Nelson, and Lancashire devolution talks.

Tributes to Mr Mousdale came from councillors across all political parties at a recent Pendle Council Policy & Resources Committee.

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It was his last committee meeting and, typically, lengthy with a packed agenda. Items for discussion included Kelbrook and Sough neighbourhood plan, Gib Hill nature reserve, taxis, cemeteries and the possible compulsory purchase of Pendle Rise shopping centre in Nelson.

Conservative Coun Mike Goulthorp, who is deputy leader of Pendle Council, began the tributes. He said: “This is Philip’s final committee meeting before he enjoys a well-earned rest. I want to thank him for everything he has done and been involved with at Pendle Council for an extremely long time. I know the recent full council meeting touched upon this recently and everyone would agree. ”

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Lib-Dem Coun David Whipp said: “I want to complement Philip – and for working right up to his last day.”

He quipped: “I also want to put on the record that his surname is pronounced ‘Mosedale’ not ‘Mousedale’! I’m sure he has been irked many times over the years by people not pronouncing it correctly. But he has never complained and said hang-on.”

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Labour Coun Asjad Mahmood said: “We thank Philip for all his service to local government. His knowledge and experience is outstanding. We will miss his encyclopaedic knowledge.”

Conservative Coun Mohammad Aslam said: “Thank you very much Mr Mousdale. I don’t think you look old enough to retire – you look too young. I wish you all the best in your retirement.”

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Labour Coun Zafar Ali added: “I think it’s also important to recognise the help Philip has given to town and parish councils, regarding the transfer of assets such as pieces of land. There is so much history there. I want to thank him on behalf of Nelson Town Council too. Nobody has a bad word to say about Philip. He will be missed.”

In reply, Mr Mousdale told councillors and officers: “When Dean Langton left Pendle Council [a former chief executive who left in 2021], I heard that he used to regularly watch recordings of our council meetings. However, I can assure you I will not be doing that!”

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After the meeting, Mr Mousdale told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I grew up in St Helens and I’m a big St Helens Rugby League supporter. I went to my first game over 60 years ago.

“After school, I studied law in London. After qualifying, I worked at Torridge Council in Devon followed by Watford and then Wirral Council. I joined Pendle Council in 1986, first as a principle solicitor. I later became the borough solicitor and then director, which I’ve been for over 20 years. ”

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Regarding his time at Pendle Council, he added: “I can say that the last 35 years have been very enjoyable with every day being different. Most councillors I have found to be very hard-working and genuinely keen to do their best for the council and the communities they represent. Staff, whether they work in the offices on various services or outside in the parks or on refuse collection, have shown great dedication and I thank them all for the support they have given me.”

In other activity, Mr Mousdale is chairman of Colne Cricket Club. He said he played cricket ‘a long time ago’. He has also been connected to the Hartley Homes almshouse charity in Colne and Pendle Twinning Association.

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Asked about his leisure activities and plans for retirement, he said: “I do quite a lot of cycling and walking – and I also like drinking the occasional beer.”