FOUR former councillors have been conferred as Honorary Aldermen for the city.
A special ceremony was held in Sunderland City Council’s chambers to present the awards to Michael Arnott, a former Conservative councillor who has represented Hendon, St Peter’s and Barnes wards, Mark Greenfield, a former Liberal Democrat councillor for the Bishopwearmouth and Thornholme wards, Mary Smith, a former Labour councillor for the Pallion and Hendon wards and James Walker, a former Labour councillor for Washington North.
In honouring the four aldermen, Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The city council has an established practice of granting Freedom of the City to distinguished individuals who have contributed to civic life, and also to the armed forces.
“Yet the council has not previously had any arrangement for awarding the recognition for service to the council that is conferred by the title of Honorary Alderman.
“All four aldermen enjoyed distinguished roles at the council and this has been an opportunity to honour and celebrate their achievements for their services.”
The council had backed by the aldermen idea at a meeting in September 2013. The role is not political and does not attract any payment or allowance.
All four aldermen will be assisting the mayor and deputy mayor and will be invited to civic and other council events or functions.
The former councillors were conferred as aldermen during the ceremony after Sunderland City Council’s Annual General Meeting.
At the same time, the new mayor, Coun Stuart Porthouse, was sworn in, taking over the reins from Robert Heron.
And, Coun Barry Curran was sworn in as the deputy mayor for 2014/2015.
Coun Porthouse, who will be supported by his wife, Marie, has chosen the NSPCC Childline, Action on Dementia and Age UK as his mayoral charities.