It was a day of pride for new Mayor of Blackpool, Coun Gary Coleman.
After three previous terms as the deputy mayor, the Labour councillor for Brunswick ward finally took up the mayoral chain of office in a ceremony at Blackpool Town Hall yesterday.
To add to the sense of occasion, Coun Coleman succeeded his father, Coun Ian Coleman, in the post, having served as his deputy in a rare father-and-son double act when they were both installed last year.
But in an unplanned break with tradition, Coun Coleman Sr was not in attendance to hand over the chain of office.
The popular Talbot councillor was forced to step down close to end of his tenure after a furore over complaints about inappropriate comments, and has also left the Labour party.
Addressing the council as the new mayor, Coun Gary Coleman said: “I can’t thank enough the friends and colleagues who stood by my father during the darkest of times.
“I can’t put a price on what your support meant to us. I will never forget those who were there for us – and those who weren’t.” In a call for greater unity between councillors, he continued: “As councillors we are put in the public realm more than ever, it is easy for keyboard warriors to attack us.
“There is more to unite us than divide us, irrespective of our parties – we are all here for the betterment of the residents we represent.”
He added: “Blackpool is a special town to be proud of. It is important to make it a better place to live and work in.”
Father-of-two Coun Coleman, who moved to Blackpool from Nottinghamshire as a boy and spent 18 years with Blackpool Transport, chose Trinity Hospice as his mayoral charity.
Wife Debbie is the mayoress, while deputy mayor is Coun Kath Rowson, serving with consort Joan Goldin.