A long-serving councillor and the former chief fire officer for Northumberland have been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Amble Councillor and resident Robert Arckless, a County Councillor since 1989, is to receive an MBE for services to the communities of Northumberland.

Alex Bennett, who retired as the county’s Chief Fire Officer in July 2016, has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service medal.

Cllr Arckless, currently the county council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, is a former Chairman of the County Council and a member of numerous outside bodies including the Amble Development Trust, Amble Town Council and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

He has also been Amble Town Mayor twice and was former chairman of Alnwick District Council.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “We are delighted at this news for Robert, who has provided exemplary service to this council, numerous other organisations and the county over many years.

“The honour recognises Robert’s service and commitment to the community and it is difficult to think of a more deserving recipient. It is an achievement he should be extremely proud of.”

Alex Bennett was nominated for the award after 14 years in Northumberland, described as “exemplary” and “innovative”, and 18 years with the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Since arriving in the county in 2002, he served in a series of roles, taking up the post of chief fire officer in January 2012.

The nomination comes on the back of his excellent leadership, delivering significant improvements and outcomes for communities in Northumberland.

These include the co-location of fire and rescue teams in Seahouses, Ponteland, Bellingham and Haltwhistle, and work on the highly successful road safety initiative Operation Dragoon.

Northumberland County Council chief executive Steven Mason said: “Alex led the fire service through challenging times, and this has now been properly rewarded.

“We would like congratulate him on his Queen’s Fire Service medal and thank him for all of his hard work in the county.  There is no-one who is more deserving of this medal.”
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Brandon Lewis, added: “The Queen’s Fire Service Medal is a symbol of distinguished service and devotion to duty. I would like to congratulate Alex Bennett and thank him for the exceptional leadership he has shown in Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.”