Plaudits were heaped on five Hartlepool councillors who are retiring or stepping down this year.
Long-serving Labour members Councillor Mary Fleet, the Ceremonial Mayor, and her consort Coun Sheila Griffin are both retiring after many years on Hartlepool Borough Council.
Also stepping down at the end of the municipal year are Labour councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of the Children’s Services Committee, Independent Coun Jonathan Brash and Coun Steve Gibbon, of Putting Hartlepool First.
Tributes were paid to each councillor by all political parties at Thursday’s final Full Council meeting before the local elections.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said of Coun Fleet, who has been on the council for 22 years: “You have been a fantastic ambassador for Hartlepool and you are going to be a huge miss to Hartlepool Borough Council.”
De Bruce ward councillor Sheila Griffin said: “I have met some fabulous people.”
Coun Paul Thompson paid tribute to Coun Brash’s work in the Burn Valley ward, including improving Baden Street. He said: “This council will be a lesser place without his involvement.”
Coun Brash signed off, saying: “You can’t change the world but you can make a genuine difference if you put your mind to it.”
Paying tribute to Coun Simmons, Coun Alan Clark said he has had “a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young people in Hartlepool”.
And Coun Simmons said of Fens and Rossmere councillor Steve Gibbon: “I’ve always found Steve to be very honest. He speaks his mind and is a man of principle.”