HE may be the new Lord Mayor of Newcastle – but David Down says he’s still proud of his Portsmouth roots and wouldn’t rule out returning to the city.
Cllr Down was inaugurated as Newcastle’s figurehead on May 23, more than 50 years after he got a job as a civil servant for Portsmouth City Council.
The 70-year-old had his first taste of local politics when he worked as a junior clerk at Portsmouth’s civic offices in the 1960s.
However, he never imagined he would one day swap the civil service for politics, especially not at the other end of the country.
Cllr Down, who moved to Newcastle in 1995, said: ‘Not in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen.
‘But this was the right thing to do, I have taken the opportunity and am going into it wholeheartedly.
‘It was exhilarating and amazing to be named as Lord Mayor.
‘Having started working for local government all those years ago, I did find it quite different being a councillor. But on the other hand, having the experience of being an employee gave me rounded awareness of what it takes to fulfil the duties.
‘My boss in the common law department at Portsmouth council instilled in me and his staff his belief of committing 100 per cent to the service we provided. And that is something I have carried over to my role as councillor and now as Lord Mayor.’
After 10 years working for Portsmouth City Council, with an interim period at the Ministry of Defence in the city, Cllr Down, who was raised on Fawcett Road in Southsea, took a job with a charity now known as Initiatives of Change.
This job took him to Newcastle with wife Barbara, now Lady Mayoress, where he was first elected as a councillor in 1999.
He added: ‘I am immensely grateful for all the care of the people in Portsmouth. I still have family members there so I will always have ties to the city. Portsmouth is part and parcel of me and I am part of it.
‘Although I am not planning to move back I believe you should never say never, but at the moment Newcastle is the place I am meant to be.’