East Antrim Assemblyman David Hilditch has confirmed his resignation from Carrickfergus Borough Council after 23 years.
As the TIMES revealed last week, the Carrickfergus Castle area representative is stepping down from the local government role as the DUP phases out dual mandates.
In an email informing council staff of his resignation, which took effect on Friday, Mr Hilditch, who will be succeeded by former Ulster Unionist MLA for North Belfast Fred Cobain, expressed regret at his departure.
He stated: “It is with deep regret and a degree of sadness, that I am inform you of my resignation as a councillor for the historic borough of Carrickfergus.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your help and assistance over the twenty-three years of my public service through council.
“My resignation is enforced through changes to local government that we all face over the coming months, challenges for those elected and employee alike.
“As I leave the council I would pay tribute to the valuable and dedicated service that you all provide for the residents and the ratepayers of the borough and in particular the leadership instilled upon us over the last two years through Ms Sheila McClelland since her appointment as Chief Executive.”
Mr Hilditch first took his seat in the Antrim Street chamber after winning a by-election in 1991. He went on to serve as first citizen on five occasions and was chair of Carrickfergus Regeneration Partnership.
An Assembly member since 1998, he is also chairman of Carrick Rangers Football Club and a Past Carrickfergus District Master with the Orange Order.
First citizen Alderman Billy Ashe paid tribute to his party colleague for his work in the community.
“David Hilditch has given sterling service to Carrickfergus Borough Council over many years, was fully committed to the role. It will be a loss to Carrickfergus Borough Council and to the DUP team in particular.
“Fred will have big shoes to step into. I know he is a man of many years’ experience and we are looking forward to him bringing that new dynamic to the DUP team.”
A former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Mr Cobain was an MLA from 1998 until 2011. He switched to the DUP in January of this year after becoming “disillusioned” with the UUP.