CENTURIES of tradition and an historic first combined at the investiture of the new lord mayor and sheriff of Chester.
The doors of the town hall, which is undergoing a near-£3m refurbishment, were thrown open for the ceremony, the first to be held under the new Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The occasion saw Cllr John Ebo (Con, Hoole and Newton) succeed Cllr Brian Bailey (Con, Gowy) as lord mayor and Cllr Hilarie McNae (Con, Upton) become sheriff in succession to former councillor David Hull.
Proposing Cllr Ebo, Cllr Andrew Storrar (Con, Mickle Trafford) suggested the lord mayor should be “a leader in the best sense of the word, a person who sets an example that all would wish to follow”.
Describing Chester as “remarkable”, with traditions including the mystery plays and the freemen and guilds, he argued it was the responsibility of councillors to safeguard the heritage which made the city “such a fine place in which to live”. He added he was sure Cllr Ebo will uphold these traditions.
Seconding Cllr Ebo, Cllr Reggie Jones (Lab, Blacon) said the lord mayor could be described as the first citizen of Chester, adding: “I believe John will bring an added dimension to the office.”
Former sheriff Cllr Marie Nelson (Lab, Blacon), seconding Cllr McNae, said she had “very much” enjoyed her year of office.
“It opened my eyes to the amazing work which goes on in the voluntary sector and charities in the city,” she added.
Accepting the oldest civic office in the country, Cllr McNae made the original historic declaration.
She said: “I know I am extremely fortunate to be given this opportunity especially after so little time as an elected councillor. I am really looking forward to my year of office.”
There was a vote of thanks by Cllr McNae and new deputy lord mayor Cllr Neil Ritchie to the council’s civic team for their contribution to the life of the city in the last year.
Responding to that, Cllr Bailey told the investiture: “I said 12 months ago that we were going to relate to the various communities in Chester, to break down barriers within the city and also between Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston and Vale Royal as we moved towards the new Cheshire West and Chester Council.
“I would like to think that we did make a contribution towards the bringing together of the three local authorities.”