COUNCILLORS have elected a female duo as their civic leaders for the first time in Oldham’s history.

Ginny Alexander has been appointed as the borough’s new mayor, with her friend and colleague in the chamber Jenny Harrison as deputy.

Cllr Alexander will be joined by her husband Adrian as consort.

It is somewhat of a consolation prize for Mr Alexander, who had performed the role of deputy last year and was due to take on the chains of office before losing his seat on May 2.

He was ousted from Saddleworth West and Lees by Liberal Democrat Sam Al-Hamdani.

Cllr Alexander, who represents St James Ward and was born in Oldham, had cross-party support and was nominated by members of Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservative groups.

In her first mayoral speech, the 63-year-old said: “I cannot explain to you how happy and grateful I am.

“I know my parents would have been extremely proud of me to take this important role as the Mayor of Oldham.”

Moving the motion, Cllr Harrison said Cllr Alexander’s parentage – with a Russian father and Hungarian mother who had moved to Oldham from war-torn Europe – was an example of the "richly diverse heritage in our borough".

She worked all her life since leaving school at 15, and since the death of her mother in 2008 has been a carer for her brother who has mental health issues.

With her husband Adrian, a former rugby league player, they ran a range of public houses in Cornwall, London and Oldham before coming back to her home town.

“She likes a drink – well we all do and we’re looking forward to a mayor that likes a drink because we’ve had some miserable ones,” Cllr John Hudson, leader of the Tory group joked.

“She’s one that can reach out and serve people regardless of their politics and that’s what you need to do to be the Mayor and I think she’ll be very successful.”

Lib Dem Cllr Chris Gloster added that she would be an "outstanding first citizen of Oldham".

Cllr Harrison will be supported as deputy mayor by fellow councillors Zahid Chauhan and Shaid Mushtaq, who will jointly serve as her consort.

There was also a vote of thanks to the retiring mayor Javid Iqbal and the mayoress Tasleem, and also his daughter Sam at the ceremonial meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Cllr Shoab Akhtar told members that they had "carried the duties of mayor with great pride, dignity, respect, and most of all – a big smile".

Cllr Iqbal managed to attend 470 engagements in his mayoral year, and has raised around £53,000 for his chosen charities.

The charities that will benefit from the mayor’s fundraising this year are: The Steven Gartland Foundation Trust, Christies Oldham, Dr Kershaw's, TOG Mind Oldham, Action Oldham, Pennine Pen Animal Rescue Oldham, RSPCA Oldham Branch, and Mahdlo.