Honour for former councillor

Arthur Preece
Arthur Preece

A FORMER councillor who served communities in Hartlepool for 24 years is set to be honoured by civic chiefs.

Arthur Preece will be given the title of Honorary Alderman by Hartlepool Borough Council at a ceremony next week.

The 84-year-old was first elected as a councillor back in 1988 and represented the Fens ward continuously until May this year, when he missed out on being re-elected.

His political career began in 1973 when he joined the Liberal Party and he went on to become chairman of the Northern Liberal Party from 1982-84, where he was involved in re-establishing a Liberal organisation in Hartlepool.

Mr Preece, who moved to town in 1987, stood as a parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool in 1987 and for South Shields in 1992.

Elected as a Liberal Democrat borough councillor for the Fens Ward in 1988, he then became a Cleveland County Councillor the following year until 1996, when Hartlepool became a unitary authority.

The retired hospital administrator, of Spalding Road, was also council leader from 2000-2002 and is a governor at Fens Primary School.

Mr Preece will be given the honour at a special ceremony on Thursday, October 4 in the council chamber at the Civic Centre, at 7pm.

An order of proceedings said: “In recognition of his exceptional service on many fronts, it is fitting that the accolade of Honorary Alderman should be bestowed upon Arthur Preece.”

Ahead of the ceremony, civic chiefs have paid tribute to Mr Preece.

Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “It is absolutely appropriate for somebody who has represented the town as a councillor for 24 years to be recognised in this way.

“Arthur Preece has always served the community extremely well and has been committed to representing the people of the Fens ward in particular.”

Born in Sheffield in 1928, Mr Preece began his working life with a firm of civil engineering contractors.

At the age of 18 he was called up to the Army and joined the Royal Engineers where he saw service as a Sergeant during the Malayan Emergency in 1948.

In 1954 Mr Preece began a long and distinguished career in the National Health Service and he qualified as a chartered secretary and hospital administrator, where he specialised in managing major capital development projects.

In 1967 he took up a chief officer post as secretary and treasurer of Alnwick and Rothbury Hospital Management Committee and after the 1974 reorganisation of the NHS he became responsible for ten hospitals serving 242,000 people.

After the next health service reorganisation in 1982 he moved to East Yorkshire as the administrator of a large, mainly psychiatric, hospital serving Hull and East Yorkshire.

Mr Preece was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours of 1988 in recognition of his contribution to the NHS.

He stood in the new Fens & Rossmere ward in May but missed out to Putting Hartlepool First candidates Steve Gibbon, Alison Lilley and Geoff Lilley.