Councillor’s 50 years of service

Harry Bennett.
Harry Bennett.

A LONG-SERVING councillor has been honoured for dedicating half a century to Peterlee.

And as former Peterlee town councillor Harry Bennett, who recently took up the reins as a Durham County councillor for the area, looked back on his time serving the public, he said: “I saw the beginning of Peterlee.”

The 80-year-old is the longest-serving councillor in the Easington district.

He said: “To me it’s an achievement to be able to have won all the elections and stay on for 50 years.”

The Labour councillor, who became an MBE in 2004, puts it down to “doing my job, and being popular”.

He spent 10 years representing Acre Rigg and then 40 years as Dene House ward representative on the town council, and said he became a councillor because “I was interested in getting things done”.

Coun Bennett, who was born in Whitley Bay but came to live in Horden during the war, was presented with a thank you letter from Peterlee Town Council for reaching the milestone.

The great-grandfather-of-three and grandfather-of-five, married to Betty, 74, for 55 years, was first appointed in 1963, when the new town was still being developed.

Back then, the authority was a parish council, only achieving town council status in 1974.

Coun Bennett, who was a member of Peterlee Development Corporation, became the first mayor of the new town council in 1975 – the same year he helped establish Peterlee Macmillan Cancer Support’s committee.

The dad-of-three remembers hosting a networking event in 1969 to bring industry to Peterlee, resulting in three factories setting up in the town.

The former depot manager for Yuills in Hartlepool finds his new role at county level “a different class of politics” and “not for the faint-hearted”, with positions on the highways, north area planning and corporate parent committees.