Here's why the new mayor of South Ribble has the skills to keep councillors in check

Marion and Cllr Harry Hancock
Marion and Cllr Harry Hancock

The new mayor of South Ribble has promised that he and his wife will be “worthy ambassadors” for the borough during his year in office.

Cllr Harry Hancock was elected to the largely ceremonial position at a meeting of the full council.

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The Liberal Democrat, who first became a member of the authority back in 2003, also announced the charities which he will be supporting during his term – St. Catherine’s Hospice, Heartbeat and children’s hospice Derian House.

“I will do my utmost to serve our community to the best of my ability and to promote the values and advantages of all that South Ribble offers,” Cllr Hancock said.

“My wife, Marion, and I are looking forward to meeting the people of South Ribble,” he added, as he was watched on by family members, including two grandchildren.

Nominating Cllr Hancock for the position, fellow Lib Dem David Howarth, revealed his friend’s past career in the Royal Horse Guards – which he joked may help in his new role as chair of council meetings.

“Harry is a real trouper – and he is actually a real trooper,” Cllr Howarth said.

“He is probably the first mayor in South Ribble who has actually been trained in how to use the sword in front of him on the [council’s] top table, in full charge on horseback.

“If anyone is thinking of horsing around in council meetings, you should be warned that at 21, Harry [joined] the Lancashire Constabulary in the mounted branch. He’s well well-versed in keeping people in line and sorting out troublemakers.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s Jane Bell said she was “humbled” to be voted in as deputy mayor.

“I will endeavour to discharge my duties to the best of my abilities and in as colourful a way as possible,” she said.

Nominating her for the role, Labour colleague Derek Forrest said her personality would “wash over South Ribble like a breeze”.

But he looked forward to the day when the mayor was no longer a political appointment.

“I hope that I will see [a time] when…we each take our turn – and that way we can all support the current mayor,” Cllr Forrest said.

Outgoing mayor, the Conservative, John Rainsbury, said it had been “a privilege” for him and his wife, Shirley, to serve the borough.

He said he had been “amazed by the [number of] volunteers giving up their time for charities and organisations serving the community”.

He reflected on an “interesting and challenging year” in his role as a chair of full council – and said his proudest moment in office came on Armistice Day last year.

“I’ll never forget the lighting of the beacon to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the Great War – it was a very special and moving ceremony,” Cllr Rainsbury said.