A PROUD former councillor described his 24-years service as a “privilege” as he collected a top honour from civic chiefs.
Arthur Preece was awarded the title of Honorary Alderman by Hartlepool Borough Council at a ceremony last night.
The 84-year-old was recognised for his dedication and commitment to serving communities in town since he was first elected as a councillor in 1988.
In front of councillors, officers and civic dignitaries from neighbouring councils, Mr Preece said: “In my 24 years I have seen positive progress in this town and it has been a privilege to be part of it.”
Mr Preece added: “I owe thanks to a lot of people, those that helped me get re-elected nine times, a succession of officers who have done their best to make improvements in Hartlepool and to my fellow councillors.”
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chairman of the council, said: “I congratulate you on this great honour.”
Sheffield-born Mr Preece, of Spalding Road, Hartlepool, represented the Fens ward continuously until May this year when he missed out on being re-elected.
Labour councillor Carl Richardson, who formally proposed the nomination, said: “Even though we came from different political sides, he never indulged in personal attacks and that is very commendable.”
Conservative group leader Ray Wells added: “Arthur always struck me as someone extremely well organised who prepares and plans well.
“He was never in it for personal gain and always put the interests of others first.”
Mr Preece’s 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, when he was involved in re-establishing a Liberal organisation in Hartlepool.
He 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, Mr Preece then became a Cleveland County Councillor the following year until 1996, when Hartlepool became a unitary authority.
The retired hospital administrator was also council leader from 2000-2002 and is a governor at Fens Primary School.
Mr Preece began his working life with a firm of civil engineering contractors before joining the Royal Engineers.
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.
Mr Preece was also 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.