Wellingborough’s new mayor will be supporting two charities which work with people with learning disabilities during the coming year.
Cllr Paul Bell, who has served on Wellingborough Council since 2003 and held the positions of both deputy leader and leader as well as representing the Swanspool and Redwell wards, will be mayor for 2017/18.
He was officially appointed at the council’s annual meeting held last night (Tuesday), with guests including his grandson there to see him accept the chains from outgoing mayor Malcolm Waters.
Speaking ahead of the appointment, Cllr Tom Partridge-Underwood said: “Here we have got a man enormously qualified to fulfil the role of first citizen and take on the mantle of responsibility for the office of mayor.”
And Cllr Andrew Scarborough said: “He will be an excellent mayor.”
An active member of the Conservative Party, Cllr Bell has always been interested in politics and was first elected as a councillor for Southampton City Council in 1976.
After being elected for Wellingborough Council, he has sat on most of its committees and has also been a county councillor for the Swanspool and Earls Barton divisions.
He has served as chairman of the Wellingborough Conservative Association and as a governor for various local schools.
Cllr Bell was born and educated in Wokingham, Berkshire, and went on to complete an apprenticeship as a fitter with a local engineering company.
He then worked in the health and education services as an engineer craftsman and as an engineering manager in the banking industry.
He finished his career as a health and safety manager in the insurance industry.
Cllr Bell and his wife Carol, who will be mayoress for the year, have five grown-up children and one grandchild.
The main charities Cllr Bell will be supporting are the Links Day Centre for adults with learning disabilities and the Mencap Wellingborough Gateway Club, a social group for young people and adults with learning disabilities in Wellingborough.
Yesterday’s meeting also saw praise for Cllr Waters, who has been mayor for the past year and will be the deputy mayor.
Council leader Martin Griffiths said: “You are a true people’s person, a Wellingborough stalwart who has given 34 years continuous service to our community.
“You have put a huge smile on so many people’s faces and the mayor’s Facebook page is a brilliant memento of what you have achieved.”
His views were seconded by Cllr Scarborough, who said: “You were a people’s mayor.”