Hartlepool mayor clinches third term

A former football mascot who promised free bananas to schoolchildren has been elected to serve a third term as Mayor of Hartlepool.

Stuart Drummond was reelected in Hartlepool's vote for a directly elected mayor, with a majority of more than 800 votes.

After beating the Labour candidate into third place he pledged to repay the public for their support, likening politicians to sitting ducks who had lost the public's trust.

The 35-year-old father-of-three paid tribute to his wife for her support, and said being the mayor was the best job in the world.

He said: "The first time I was elected in 2002 a lot of people said it was a fluke; some people said it was a stroke of genius.

"It was a huge achievement to be returned in 2005 with a big majority. I was very, very proud of that but I think to be returned for a third time, especially in these times when anybody who is holding a position in a political office is a sitting duck - who at the moment are there to be shot at because I think the general public has had enough of politicians, to be honest - I think getting returned tonight tops those two times put together.

"I am very, very proud and would like to thank everybody who supported me: the public, the lads who helped me deliver leaflets, even my agent who had three weeks holiday in France just before the election which was very helpful; thank you very much.

"Being the mayor is a massive, massive honour.

"It is not a job I take lightly. It is certainly not a job I am complacent about.

"If anyone thought there might be complacency slipping in then tonight has taught me that cannot be.

"It is the best job in the world."

Mr Drummond first found himself chosen as the town's first elected mayor seven years ago.

After standing as a joke as H'Angus the Monkey, the former Hartlepool United mascot was shocked to find himself overseeing more than 4,000 staff and a £100 million-plus revenue budget.

The former call centre worker defeated established politicians and admitted he had no prior interest in politics.

Hartlepool Labour MP Iain Wright congratulated Mr Drummond and said: "This is part of the backlash against MPs' expenses.

"He fought a good campaign on local issues, he's popular and he's done nothing wrong so it was always going to be tough."