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Former journalist appointed deputy mayor of old patch

Mieka SmilesA former journalist has been appointed deputy mayor of her old patch after her predecessor quit.

Mieka Smiles has taken the role in Middlesbrough after being approached by the town’s directly-elected mayor Andy Preston.

The former Hartlepool Mail and Teesside Gazette reporter joined the council’s executive team in 2019 after her election as a Conservative councillor for the Nunthorpe ward.

Mieka, pictured, was the only remaining member of Independent mayor Mr Preston’s executive team after a string of resignations last month.

Former deputy mayor Cllr Antony High and four Middlesbrough Independent Group colleagues walked away from the executive after signing a resignation letter which made a string of allegations about the mayor’s conduct and his behaviour.

Mr Preston vehemently denied the accusations in the aftermath, telling the Gazette they were “completely untrue” and without evidence.

Mieka said she was “chuffed to bits” to take on the role of deputy mayor.

She added: “As well as working hard to represent Nunthorpe residents, I’ve loved being an executive councillor too, helping to look after all manner of important issues relating to the town – from culture and community safety, through to education and schools.

“I’ll now strive to do the role of deputy mayor justice.

“We have a number of exciting projects underway that will transform Middlesbrough and I look forward to supporting the mayor, the rest of the executive team and council staff to bring these to fruition.”

Mr Preston described Mieka as the “natural choice” for the job.

He told the Gazette: “Doing the job well requires a special blend of passion for Middlesbrough, remarkable integrity and brains – and I know Mieka has all of these.

“I’ve worked with Mieka for over two years now and I know she’ll be fantastic.

“It’s great to see a woman promoted on merit and I know Mieka will deliver fantastic results for the whole of Middlesbrough as well as her home patch of Nunthorpe.”