COUNCILLOR Stephen Akers-Belcher was last night appointed Chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council for the new municipal year.
The Labour councillor, who represents the Manor House ward, takes over from Councillor Carl Richardson who decided to stand down after 10 years in the ceremonial role.
Consort for the year will be Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher.
Vice-chairman of the council is Labour Councillor Kevin Cranney, who represents the Foggy Furze ward and he will be supported by his wife Lesley in the role of consort.
Speaking after the ceremony, attended by other civic leaders and invited guests, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, said: “I feel very honoured to be given the opportunity to undertake the role of chairman of the council. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Most boys want to be a footballer when they grow up, but my dream as a youngster was always to be a civic leader.
“I certainly aim to bring civic life closer to local communities and will do my very best for Hartlepool.
“A priority will be my charity work and I aim to raise lots of money for a number of local, young people’s charities. Young people don’t always get the credit they deserve and I’m keen to highlight all the positive things they achieve.
“I also urge people to support me in my fundraising efforts so that we can raise as much money as possible.
“Finally, I would like to thank Councillor Richardson and the chairman’s Lady Sarah Richardson. They have done a fantastic job and been great ambassadors for Hartlepool.”
Outgoing Chairman, Coun Carl Richardson, said: “It has been a privilege and an honour to serve the town for 10 years as council chairman. I have met many wonderful people from Hartlepool and around the world and the support from Sarah and civic attendant Jeff Richardson has been fantastic throughout.”