DORCHESTER’S new mayor has spoken of his ‘honour’ at taking on the role of the county town’s first citizen.

Cllr Peter Mann took over the mayoral chain and robes from predecessor Stella Jones at a traditional mayor-making ceremony at the town’s Corn Exchange.

Cllr Tess James proposed the election of Cllr Mann as mayor, speaking of his commitment to education in a career that saw him reach the role of chief inspector for schools in Dorset and the many charities and organisations he is involved with and supports in the county town.

She said: “The town is extremely important to him and he will serve it well.”

Cllr Mann thanked the town councillors and all those who attended for their support before going on to thank his wife Sheila, who will take on the role of mayoress.

He said: “I couldn’t undertake this without knowing that she would support me up to the hilt.”

Cllr Mann spoke of the ‘great honour and privilege’ that been bestowed on him to act as mayor in a town where democratic traditions date back to Roman times when a prefect sat at the town forum at what is now St Peter’s Church next door to the Corn Exchange.

He said: “It is a remarkable example of continuity that we meet this evening on almost the same spot that the Roman town prefect operated nearly 2,000 years ago.”

Cllr Mann also looked forward to the growth of Dorchester and urged local people to get involved as the town council shaped a vision of what it wanted it to look like in 20 years time.

He also vowed to carry on the work Cllr Jones had done with the Dorchester Youth Council and continue to support the many volunteers and groups that do so much good work in the town.

Cllr Mann said: “Above all we live in a town which has many friendly, caring people with an extremely strong sense of community support.”

He added: “One thing is clear, the wellbeing of our community is hugely reliant on the contributions of volunteers.”

Cllr Mann revealed that his mayoral appeal for the year would be to work with the Dorset Wildlife Trust to create a grass free lawn in the town that could be established with community involvement.

Tributes were also paid to outgoing mayor Cllr Jones on the night, with Cllr Susie Hosford among those to thank her for her efforts.

She said: “Stella you have done a wonderful job as our first citizen and representing the town.”

Cllr Jones thanked all those who had supported her in the role and wished Cllr Mann and his wife Sheila all the best for the year to come.

She said: “I know they will really enjoy it and I hope they have as much fun and satisfaction as I have had.”