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From police detective to Mayor of Yarm

Habinteg tenant John Coulson has recently become the Mayor of Yarm City Council.

Having been involved with the local council since 2016, John felt it was the right time to take a leading role and make the changes he believes his childhood hometown deserved.

“I want to see Yarm return to being a prime tourist area. It has such a rich history that people don’t know about and investment in boosting the area is one of my main goals,” said John.

A colourful past

Prior to working for the council, John spent 12 years in the police force before moving on to work as a court prosecutor.

It was during his time as a detective with Cleveland Police that John realised he had a passion for helping others, and he decided to make it his priority to go back to Yarm one day to support his hometown.

Come his retirement in 2010, John knew it was time to move back home to Yarm where he was eventually offered an accessible bungalow by Habinteg. Once settled in his own home, John felt ready to help make some changes.

Joining the council

After four years of trying to get into the council, John found a role as a Residents Rates Representative. It was during this period that he began his own passion project - renovating the town’s famous Yarm Chapel.

After reinstating the chapel to its former glory, John felt it was time to leave his council ambitions behind – until, that is, he met Alan.

Onto bigger things

Alan Gallafant became the new Chair of Yarm Council in 2019.

“He and I and quickly struck up a close friendship due to our similar vision for the city,” said John. John. “I knew it was time to rejoin the council in a more significant role where I could make a real difference.”

Within a year, John was appointed Vice-Chair. Six months into his tenure, Alan fell ill and John was promoted to Chair.

“At that point, I felt that it wasn’t only my vision I had to fulfil, but Alan’s too,” John said.

Bettering Yarm

“One of Alan’s main concerns was that there were too many political factions in the council, so I made it my priority as Chair to bring councilors together and create a more unified team.

"I also wanted to take Yarm back to its glory days, and I felt that the first step in doing this was to restore the beautiful river that runs through the city.

“When I was younger, the river was almost like our high street, where everyone would come together, socialise and shop. If you’re from Yarm, you know it’s one of our biggest assets.”

John set up a team to help cut back the vegetation surrounding the river beds and clean the debris in and out of the water.

He even created a Facebook page and promoted the initiative, which drew people from all over North England to Yarm to support the clean-up.

“Not only did the city reclaim one of its treasured landmarks, but the project also brought the community together,” said John.

My dream for Yarm

John was actually appointed the Mayor of Yarm in In April 2022,  while still holding his title as Chair of Yarm Council.

“I’m not sure how long I’ll be Mayor,” he said. “But I know for sure I’ll do my best to make every day count, and return Yarm to its glory days.”

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