Busy week for new councillors

Jim Ainslie.
Jim Ainslie.

NEWLY-ELECTED councillors have been reflecting on a busy first week since being voted in.

The all-out election saw four new councillors, Jim Ainslie, Keith Fisher, Keith Dawkins and Paul Beck, welcomed into the council chamber at Hartlepool Borough Council.

Now seven days after being elected they have pledged to embrace the challenge and work hard for residents.

The newcomers have been busy attending inductions and training sessions and meeting with council officers.

Labour councillor Jim Ainslie, 65, of Regent Street, was voted in to the Headland and Harbour ward with 763 votes.

His priorities include tackling youth unemployment, improving public transport, dog fouling and inconsiderate drivers.

Coun Ainslie, a retired sales manager, said: “The reaction has been very positive and it has been a very busy first week.

“I retired on my 65th birthday after working for 34 years and I intend to treat my role as councillor as a full-time job.

“This is a large diverse ward and all three councillors are going to be working the whole ward together.”

Coun Ainslie, current chair of Headland Parish Council, has been a parish councillor for the past eight years.

Coun Dawkins, of Putting Hartlepool First, secured 687 votes in the Jesmond ward and will serve for the next three years.

A key part of his campaign was to fight for Hartlepool to retain its own hospital.

Coun Dawkins suffered three heart attacks between 2005 and 2006 and two mini-strokes and received treatment at Hartlepool hospital.

The retired electrician, 73, from Jesmond Mews, said: “The ongoing issues with the hospital got me into standing in the first place.

“I felt I had to try and do something about it.”

Coun Dawkins, who thanked the people who voted him in, added: “My priorities are to work with the people of the town and to solve the problems we have.

“Issues like anti-social behaviour, the future of the hospital and keeping a close eye on public spending.”

Meanwhile, security officer Paul Beck is to serve the Hart ward for the next three years as a Labour councillor after picking up 571 votes.

The 61-year-old, from Macaulay Road, in Hartlepool, said: “It has been very busy but I’m really looking forward to the next six months and getting stuck in to the many issues affecting people.

“I am going to be meeting up with my ward colleagues Jean Robinson and Keith Fisher.

“We have got to work together, putting politics aside and working for the residents.”

Coun Beck added that dog fouling, environmental issues and more facilities for young children were among his priorities.

Prominent hospital campaigner Keith Fisher was also voted in as an independent councillor for the Hart ward with 532 votes.

He has vowed to fight on to keep vital health services in Hartlepool.

Coun Fisher, who featured in the Mail last week after his successful campaign, said: “People recognised me as having campaigned for the hospital services, but I am here for residents to help them with any issues they may have.”