HEARTFELT tributes have been made to a senior officer of Craven District Council who has retired after 37 years with the authority.

Councillors described senior committee administrator, Chris Waterhouse, as ‘gold dust’ with great knowledge and instinct and with a breadth of knowledge difficult to replace.

Council leader, Cllr Richard Foster, said Mr Waterhouse had been with the council for as long as he had been a member and described him as the first port of call for any problem he needed sorting.

“If ever I had a problem I went to Chris and he would sort it, and for a member, that is gold dust, and I know it wasn’t just me, he was always there, always with a friendly face and full of advice. He also had an opinion on where the council was going, and was not frightened to tell us,” he said.

Cllr Foster said Mr Waterhouse was a ‘proper friend’ and an officer he could ring and get an unbiased answer.

“It was often easier to ring Chris than going through the switchboard. I thank him for his service, he will be missed,” he said.

Cllr Andy Solloway said Mr Waterhouse was a ‘superb committee officer’ and was ‘thorough with good instinct’.

“He was good at prompting councillors to speak who we may not have asked. He has instinct, professionalism and above all, with a sense of humour having to deal with us awkward councillors.”

Cllr Peter Madeley said Mr Waterhouse was the first officer he had met when he became a councillor in 1989.

“There were some daunting members back then who scared me and Chris helped me out. He has a sense of humour and is a thoroughly nice chap. He has been an excellent officer for Craven District and will be sorely missed.”

Cllr David Staveley, said as chairman of the council’s select committee, members had benefited from Mr Waterhouse’s advice and wisdom.

“He has been invaluable resource in all the work we have done with his knowledge of where the bodies are buried. The length of service and experience that Chris has will be sorely missed. It was the right decision for him, but maybe not the right decision for us. But we are big girls and boys, and we will have to live with that."

Mr Waterhouse said it had been a pleasure to serve the members of the council and the community of Craven and said he thought the current project by the council to attract younger people to the area would define the future of the district.

“When I came for the job the clerk to the council asked me what I thought the job was about, and I said ‘to serve the residents of Craven’, he nodded and I knew I had got the job” he said.