New Mayor of South Tyneside urges Council to ‘work together for the residents of our town’

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The new Mayor of South Tyneside has declared they are entering a “new and exciting era” following the “winds of change” blowing through the town hall.

Councillor Fay Cunningham, Boldon Colliery ward councillor, was selected as mayor for 2024/25 at South Tyneside Council’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The veteran Labour councillor will take over the ceremonial chains from councillor John McCabe, who was praised for his work in the role over the past 12 months.

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It will be the second time Cllr Cunningham will serve as mayor, after previously holding the position in 2014/15, and Stella Matthewson will act as her mayoress once again.

Meanwhile councillor Jay Potts, Fellgate and Hedworth ward representative, was sworn in as the new deputy mayor for 2024/25, with former councillor Audrey Huntley taking on the role of deputy mayoress.

The new Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr Fay Cunningham, and Mayoress Mrs Stella Matthewson, at South Shields Town Hall. Photo: South Tyneside Council.The new Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr Fay Cunningham, and Mayoress Mrs Stella Matthewson, at South Shields Town Hall. Photo: South Tyneside Council.
The new Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr Fay Cunningham, and Mayoress Mrs Stella Matthewson, at South Shields Town Hall. Photo: South Tyneside Council.

Cllr Cunningham thanked colleagues for selecting her for the position and declared she and her mayoress would “work hard to promote South Tyneside and be the very best of ambassadors”.

She said: “Being mayor and mayoress once was very special, but twice, if you care about the town as much as we do, then it is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

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Cllr Cunningham added they are “entering a new and exciting era” but the council cannot “kid ourselves that the road ahead will be easy”.

She continued: “I think we must acknowledge today that the winds of change have most definitely blown through these illustrious corridors.

“I think it is important that we all genuinely embrace this change and work together for the residents of our town. 

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“We have to build bridges with some of our workforce and restore morale to our staff and we need to spring clean this borough from top to bottom, so no mean feat.

“I have long experience of local government and I truly believe that we can only do this by working together.

“I don’t believe any of us on both sides of this chamber who put ourselves through the hard work, discomfort of the election process, do so without having a genuine and burning desire to make South Tyneside a better place.”

She also noted “because of the continued relentless budget cuts by central government” the council has “to find savings of £7million this year and £7million next”.

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Cllr Fay Cunningham has been sworn in as the new Mayor of South Tyneside following the 2024 local elections. Photo: South Tyneside Council.Cllr Fay Cunningham has been sworn in as the new Mayor of South Tyneside following the 2024 local elections. Photo: South Tyneside Council.
Cllr Fay Cunningham has been sworn in as the new Mayor of South Tyneside following the 2024 local elections. Photo: South Tyneside Council.

Several tributes were paid to Cllr Cunningham from across the council chamber, including from Labour colleague and Boldon Colliery ward colleague Alison Strike, who nominated her for the position.

Cllr Strike said: “I know how passionate Fay is about our council, our local history and traditions and also South Tyneside voluntary sector, which she plays a very big part in.

“This will be the second time around to hold civic office for Fay and her mayoress Stella, so they are tried and tested in the role and have the knowledge to act as worthy ambassadors for South Tyneside.”

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