THE new Mayor of Bolton, Cllr John Byrne, has officially taken the chains of office.

The Breightmet councillor, who has been a member of Bolton Council since 1992, was handed the Mayoral chains by his new deputy mayor, last year’s First Citizen, Cllr Norman Critchley.

The pair were enthusiastically applauded at the packed council chamber yesterday.

Cllr Byrne said his Mayoral Charities were the Alzheimer’s Society, brain injury and stroke charities and a local charity, Kids Together, which works with autistic youngsters.

He said: “When they first asked me to become mayor, I had to pinch myself.

“I cannot think of a greater honour for any citizen than being mayor of our wonderful town.

“I have two things I want to do during my year. The first is to continue to help businesses in whatever way I can, a continuation of my work as Executive member for development and regeneration. The second thing I want to do is get the people of Bolton a bit fitter.

“I visited San Sebastian in Spain a few years back and when I was out jogging I saw a park with gym equipment in it made of wood and things.

“That has stayed with me all this time and I have asked Malcolm Cox (director of environmental services) to look at getting something like that in one of our parks.”

Earlier, fellow Breightmet councillor Arthur Norris and his close friend, Cllr Nick Peel, paid tribute to Cllr Byrne and the mayoress, his wife, Cllr Linda Byrne.

Cllr Norris joked: “I know how keen a cyclist John is so I asked the chief executive if we could swap the mayoral Jaguar for a tandem bike — with Linda in the basket. The chief executive said it was too expensive.”

Cllr Peel added: “I am sure John and Linda will be excellent ambassadors for the town.”

Cllr Critchley said it had been an honour to be the mayor for the past year.

He added: “One of the first things we did was get to meet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, so that was a big highlight.

“But the biggest highlight was the ‘One Bolton’ pledge which started with the Interfaith Council and was continued when the people of Bolton cast aside the prejudices that the marches brought”, referring to the EDL protest in the town in March Cllr Byrne presided over his first meeting of the full council immediately after being made mayor.

He and the mayoress later held a luncheon in the Albert Halls for family, friends, councillors and invited guests.