The new Mayor of Lancaster from May 2015 is Jon Barry who completed a PhD in Statistics at Lancaster in 1996.
Jon arrived as a research worker in the Centre for Applied Statistics in 1987 and went on to lecture in the department, finishing his PhD in 1996 and leaving in 1998. He was elected as a Green Party Councillor in Castle Ward in 1999, one of a batch of five who were the first Greens elected to the Council. The numbers have fluctuated since then, but there are now 10 City Councillors and 1 County Councillor. Jon has been a member of the Council’s ruling cabinet for 12 years in a variety of rainbow coalitions – political parties are rarely able to get an overall majority in the Lancaster District.
He allocates two days a week to Council work (and lots of evenings!) and three days to his ‘proper’ job when he works as a statistician for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) which is a Government agency of Defra. He works from home for three weeks and then spends the fourth at the laboratory in Lowestoft (which is a long train ride from Lancaster!).
Jon and his colleague advises 200 scientists on numerous different areas including setting up Marine Conservation Zones, surveys on the amount of litter and plastics on the sea bottom, how bad dredging is for the environment, numbers of eels and jellyfish, why are salmon numbers declining, how to analyse underwater video surveys etc.
Life is never dull and always busy. His dual roles mean that at one moment he is trying to sort out some tricky algebra and the next trying to sort out why Mrs Smith’s bin hasn’t been collected.