Long-serving councillors are honoured by borough

Councillors honoured for long service.''Front row (L-R) Councillor Tom Hanson's daughters: Tracy Carter, Erica Hanson-McKenzie, Linda Bleasdale, Jackie Green and Karen Jones with Mayor of South Ribble Councillor Graham Walton.'Back row (L-R) Councillor Tony Kelly, Jim Breakell, Ken Palmer and Councillor Jon Hesketh
Councillors honoured for long service.''Front row (L-R) Councillor Tom Hanson's daughters: Tracy Carter, Erica Hanson-McKenzie, Linda Bleasdale, Jackie Green and Karen Jones with Mayor of South Ribble Councillor Graham Walton.'Back row (L-R) Councillor Tony Kelly, Jim Breakell, Ken Palmer and Councillor Jon Hesketh
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Five councillors who together have clocked up 175 years of service on South Ribble Council have been honoured with a new award.

The group, made up of Coun Tony Kelly, Coun Tom Hanson, Coun Jon Hesketh and former councillors Ken Palmer and Jim Breakell, were recognised for their long service at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Graham Walton, presented the group with new badges, which have been introduced by the authority to mark more than 32 years of service.

Leader of the council, Coun Margaret Smith said: “I’d like to congratulate all the recipients of this prestigious honour.

“They have given truly remarkable service to this borough and its residents over many decades and this new award is a fitting way to thank them for all their efforts.”

Of the five, Coun Tony Kelly, who represents the Lowerhouse ward of Leyland, has served the longest – joining the council 40 years ago when it first formed in 1974 alongside Ken Palmer.

At that time, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, and a first class stamp cost 4.5p.

Together with Ken Palmer and Jim Breakell, Coun Kelly - who has only had a one year break in service during his four decades as a councillor - is a Freeman of the Borough. He also served as council leader for the Labour Party between May 1995 and April 1998.

He said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to receive the award - the family are quite proud of it.”

He added: “It’s the residents who have put me here, and my colleague and I have built up a good relationship with them over the years.

“Unfortunately at the moment it’s difficult, there’s not a lot of money around to do all the things we want to do for them.”

All five long-serving councillors are former mayors and have won more than 40 elections between them.

Due to ill health, Coun Hanson, who has represented the Bamber Bridge West ward for 34 years was unable to attend the event, but his five daughters took his place and received the award on his behalf, reading a speech he had prepared.