HARTLEPOOL’S ceremonial mayor has spoken of his pride after being voted in for the third and final year.
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, who has helped to raise £83,000 for various town charities over the past two years, was voted in at last night’s annual council meeting.
He beat off competition from independent councillor Paul Thompson, who attended the meeting despite having surgery on Wednesday.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It has been an amazing couple of years. The credit has to go to others who have helped me every step of the way as it has been a great team effort.
“I will continue to restore civic life and raise money for the various charities, to me that is very important,” added Coun Akers-Belcher, who confirmed it would be his last year as ceremonial mayor.
His four chosen charities for this year will be Miles for Men, Hartlepool and District Hospice, the RNLI and the Great North Air Ambulance.
The role involves chairing meetings of full council and representing the town and council at various functions and comes with a special responsibility allowance of £5,825.
Ahead of the meeting Coun Thompson said he would be willing to do the role at zero cost if he was elected. Councillor Jonathan Brash nominated Coun Thompson and described him as a man of great integrity and principles.
But Coun Akers-Belcher had the support of the Labour and Conservative groups.
His deputy ceremonial mayor will be Labour councillor Mary Fleet, who said: “It’s a pleasure to accept the chains. I will do my very best.”