A FORMER leader of Otley Town Council is preparing to leave and set up home in Scotland.

Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) stepped down as the council’s Chair, after four and a half years in charge, in October, 2019.

Since then he has continued to play an active role on the council, focusing particularly on environmental initiatives such as StreetVision 2030.

Now, however, Cllr Georgeson has announced that he will be resigning from the council at the end of January ahead of a move to Duns, in Berwickshire.

His formal resignation - which will spark a by-election - won’t be made until late January, following the Policy and Resources Committee meeting.

He said: “It has been my privilege to represent Danefield Ward on the town council for nearly six years and my huge honour to have been Chair of the Town Council for four and a half of those years.

“I took great pleasure in being an Otley Ambassador, and will always be a champion for this fine place wherever I go.

“I leave with many great memories and even more great friends and rest assured we will not be strangers to Otley in the years to come. I’d like to thank my constituents in Danefield for putting their faith in me in two elections and my Liberal Democrat colleagues for many years of great fellowship and committed effort for the town, as well as plenty of worn shoe leather!”

Commenting on his decision to move north, he added: “For business and family reasons I am relocating to the Scottish Borders later in the year and starting a new phase of life with my family as we future-proof towards my eventual retirement.

“As my colleagues know, I like a ten year plan - only this time the plan is my family’s.

“I hope there will be a chance to say some decent farewells before we go but that is in the hands of the pandemic.

“So we will keep distancing, hand washing and mask wearing in the meantime.”

Otley Town Council Chair Councillor Richard Hughes (Lib Dem, West Chevin) said: “Councillor Ray Georgeson will be greatly missed as he leaves Otley for a new phase of his life.

“The town council has been grateful for his passions and energy over the last six years, especially his commitment to making a reality of the declaration of a climate emergency which was agreed during his time as council chair.”

Ward Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “Ray worked tirelessly for Otley, bringing his knowledge of environmental issues to the forefront of his achievements on the town council, and was an inspirational leader who put effort and passion into the role, always thinking about what was best for Otley.

“I wish him all the best for the future whilst thanking him for all that he has done for Otley.”

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) added: "This is a sad piece of news for both the town council and the wider Otley Community.

"Ray has been Otley's greenest councillor and has used his skill and expertise to promote a number of schemes to benefit residents and the environment.

"From Wharfedale Greenway to the StreetVision he has promoted a more sustainable approach within the town council and his work will continue to benefit the community for years to come.

"I shall miss his expertise and wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavours."