Former Lancaster councillor Niki’s honour breaks new ground

For 28 years Niki Penney championed women’s rights in Lancashire as county councillor for Skerton.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 7th August 2019, 12:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th August 2019, 1:02 pm
Niki Penney (second left) on becoming Lancashire's first Honorary Alderwoman with new Honorary Alderman Tony Jones, County Coun Paul Rigby, chairman of Lancashire County Council, and County Coun Susie Charles, vice-chairman.

Now she has become the county’s first Honorary Alderwoman.

Niki asked to be given the title when she was honoured at County Hall for her long and distinguished service, together with her neighbouring colleague Tony Jones.

Until now women, as well as men, have used the same title of Honorary Alderman.

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Both received certificates and warm tributes at a special meeting of the full council.

Niki retired at the 2017 elections while Tony stood down later the same year after suffering a cardiac arrest as he was speaking in a council debate. Tony served on the county council for 32 years, most recently representing Morecambe North, which comprises Bare, Slyne-with-Hest and Bolton-le-Sands. He was previously a Lancaster city councillor.

County Coun Tony Martin said Niki had served Skerton with distinction and honour.

She became the first Cabinet member for information, communications and lifelong learning in 2001, joined the police authority, was appointed the first woman chair of the fire authority and also became chair of Lancashire County Developments Ltd.

She was chairman of the county council in 2002-03.

County Coun John Fillis, who helped save Tony’s life when he collapsed in the council chamber, said his former colleague was honourable, generous, caring and a true gentleman.

County Coun David Whipp said Tony put principle before politics and gained ultimate respect for his actions.

Niki thanked her predecessor Eric Jones and his wife Jean for their encouragement and electors of Skerton.

She said she was proud to have successfully fought on behalf of women, ethnic minorities and the LGBT community.

Tony’s mother Elsie was county councillor for Skerton from 1966 until the 1974 reorganisation.

He served on Lancashire Police Authority for 11 years and was chairman of the county council in 2009-10.

He believed his significant achievements were persuading the city council to abandon the relaxation of safety regulations affecting houses in multiple occupation, supporting the M6-Heysham link road and being involved in the cancellation of proposed domestic water meters.