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Darlington Borough Council

Meet the scientists!


Councillor for:

Park East Ward since 2003



Council job:

Member of Children and Young peoples Services committee, Neighbourhood Services Commitee and the Licensing Committee.


House husband and part time play therapy counsellor for primary school children with emotional and behavioural problems. I am also a governor at Skerne Park Primary School.


Joe Lyonette

Wow, what a week this has been. It's now down to the last two councillors and I'm very pleased to be one of them. Thanks so much to all of you that have supported me this week It's been a pleasure meeting you and answering your questions. Don't forget to vote one last time and may the best man win!

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing about Darlington is that I can walk through the town centre on any day of the week and be guaranteed to bump into someone that I know for a chat. I have always thought of our town as a very large village with a genuine feel good factor.

Me and my council work

I represent the Park East ward of Darlington which is one of the largest wards in the town. It stretches from the Victoria Road area to Skerne Park then all the way over to the Grange Road and Conniscliffe Road area.

I am currently a member of three scrutiny committees, they are the Neighbourhood Services Committee, Children and Young People and the Licensing Committee. Most Committees meet on a monthly basis but can split up into smaller working groups that meet up more regularly to discuss certain issues. The Neighbourhood Services Committee is responsible for making sure that the Council is providing effective services to the public. These services range from Streetscene (refuse collection, street cleaning, maintaining parks and cemeteries etc), to housing and community safety. Since joining this committee I have been involved with several smaller review groups looking into how the council copes with flooding problems, also looking into how we can improve our litter and street cleaning services. I find the Children and Young People Committee particularly interesting as it looks into every service that affects the lives of the children and young people of our town, this includes everything from education to the Youth Service. The licensing Committee can be very busy and time consuming, it makes sure that everyone that needs a license for a particular activity is operating within the law. People need to apply for a license for a variety of reasons ranging from driving a taxi to running a pub, it’s the Licensing Committees duty to make sure that these people are qualified and safe to do the job.

My Typical Day

I don’t really have a typical day, in fact I rarely have two days the same in one week.

The only typical thing about my day is that it always starts with getting the kids up and ready for school, none of us really like mornings so this can be a bit of a challenge. My eight year old daughter Ellie is in year four at St. Augustines, and my seventeen year old son Theo is in the sixth form at Carmel. On a good day Theo will make his own way to school and I will walk with Ellie to her school, on a bad day we will get up slightly too late and I end up having to drop them both off in the car! Being a househusband means that it’s my job to to look after the day to day running of our home, this includes cooking, cleaning, ironing and making sure that the kids get safely to and from school. My wife Ruth has a very busy job as a teacher at St. George’s Primary School in Middleton St. George. I know it’s not everyones idea of fun but it was my choice to become a househusband and I really enjoy looking after my family. I fit my role as a househusband around my council work and it seems to work quite well, I also work one day per week with children in a primary school near Sunderland. The only problem is that if I have a day full of council meetings then my work at home gets neglected, this usually means that I have to catch up later in the day. It’s not unusual to find me ironing at midnight or cooking a meal for the following day. I love cooking and I like to experiment with new recipes and try them out on my family, some are more successful than others. I recently made a Thai curry that was so hot that it almost blew my son’s eye brows off!!, My wife and daughter couldn’t eat it.

What I'd do as "Youth Champion"

I would work with the council to try to make sure that every young person is given the chance to be the best that they can possibly be, at what ever they want to be.

I think that it is a big problem that some children and young people fall into the trap of thinking that it’s not cool to work hard and to do well at school. I would like to see this way of thinking turned round so that they can be proud of their achievements however big or small. Darlington has got a very good education system and it saddens me to see some young people not taking advantage of it because they feel that there is no point. Not everyone is going to be able to go to university but I truly believe that everybody can be good at something and we need to find ways of helping them to realise this.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Honest, friendly, fun.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Music is one of my biggest passions and I have a very varied collection. I mainly listen to loud guitar based bands and I was lucky enough to see Muse at Manchester recently which was a mind blowing experience. If I had to chose a favorite band then it would have to be U2.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend a week in Los Angeles with four of my closest friends. We hired Harley Davidson motorcycles for a couple of days and toured round Hollywood and down the Pacific highway to Malibu, it really was like a dream come true. I can’t honestly say that I was that impressed with the Harley but the experience was breathtaking!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To have a long and happy life with my wife and my two kids. To be sixteen again (and to know what I know now). To pass my maths GCSE, unfortunately I failed it three times many years ago!

What did you want to be after you left school?

In my early years at Carmel School I was interested in becoming a journalist, unfortunately I wasted a lot of time and opportunities and I left school with with very few qualifications. I took the first job available which was at a local bakery starting at four o’clock in the morning…it was truly awful!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes, mainly for silly and mischievous things. Back in those bad old days teachers could punish you by hitting you with the cane or anything else that was at hand, it really did hurt! Thankfully things have changed since then.

What's the best thing you've done as a councillor?

I have been involved in many big decisions since becoming a councillor, but it’s not always the big projects that give me the most satisfaction. I once received a really heartfelt thank you letter from an elderly resident for helping her with a fairly easy to deal with problem. It meant a lot to her that she could talk to someone about her problem and to see a positive result in a couple of days, I still have the thank you letter on my desk to remind me of why I do this job.

Tell us a joke.

What’s round and red and totally invisible to the human eye?……No tomatoes!!!