HUNTINGDONSHIRE has an ‘alderman’ for the first time in the district council’s 37-year history.

The honour was conferred on Pidley farmer Mike Newman who was attending his first meeting since the council began in shadow form in 1973 other than as a serving member.

The honorary title, which carried no benefits other than a framed certificate and the expectation of invitations to some civic functions, was grated in recognition of Mr Newman's 41 years' continuous district council service - he was on St Ives Rural District Council before HDC's creation under the Local Government Act 1972, a body on which he had served previously for six years before losing his seat briefly.

Mr Newman, 77, of Wilobe Farm, Pidley, has even longer service on Pidley Parish Council, of which he has been a member for 50 years, all but two as chairman.

His wife, June, also attended last Wednesday's HDC annual meeting to see the honour conferred on her husband by council chairman Cllr Jeff Dutton.

His successor as 'father of the house', Cllr John Davies, recalled that the two men had first met in 1974 when the younger man was working in a slaughterhouse in St Ives - while the authority's new leader, Cllr Jason Ablewhite observed that Mr Newman had been on the council for longer than the younger man had been on the planet.

Lib Dem Mike Baker, a former secondary school teacher, praised Mr Newman's "genuine concern for the welfare of the citizens, of the ward and of the district", while Cllr Maddie Bannerjee paid tribute to his experience, natural justice and wisdom.

Pictured with Alderman Newman, centre, are, from left, council vice-chairman Barbara Boddington, chief executive David Monks, chairman Jeff Dutton and Mrs June Newman.