New Mayor of Durham dogged by political row

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A NEW mayor for Durham City has been elected after a political row over the succession.

The Liberal Democrats wanted the tradition to continue of the previous year’s deputy mayor stepping up to the main post.

Labour councillors wanted to combine the post with that of Chairman of the County Council.

The mayor is elected by Durham Charter Trust, which was composed of mostly Liberal Democrat councillors until many lost their seats at the last election, leaving a Labour majority.

At a trust meeting in Durham Town Hall, Coun Joe Armstrong proposed Coun Pauline Charlton, currently Chairman of the County Council, for election as mayor.

Coun Grenville Holland proposed Coun Amanda Hopgood, currently deputy mayor.

The trust elected Coun Pauline Charlton as Mayor of Durham by a majority of 18 votes to six.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Holland said: “I am disappointed the Labour Party has used the office of mayor as a political football. It should be about serving the community of Durham City, which Amanda Hopgood is eminently qualified to do.”

The new mayor was born in Houghton and worked as a teacher in Seaham.

She is ward councillor for the rural constituency of Evenwood in the south west of the county.

Trustees were told she has “a long and varied association” with Durham City.

Speaking of her appointment, Coun Charlton said: “Durham City will be in safe hands with me.”

Coun Charlton’s chosen charity for her mayoral year is the Treetops children’s ward at University Hospital, Durham.