Seaham Town Council has elected its youngest leader since its inception.

Cllr Rochelle Charlton-Lainé, 34, was appointed leader at the Town Council AGM, and is the second woman to hold the honour.

The secondary school teacher has lived in Seaham for most of her life and has been a councillor for a year. She has made council transparency, support for young people and community safety her key priorities as Leader.

Cllr Charlton-Lainé said: “It is an incredible honour to be named Leader of Seaham Town Council, which has worked hard for our community for almost 40 years now, and I’d like to thank my family and Labour colleagues for all their support in recent years.

“I became a Councillor to help hold the current Conservative Government to account following its shameful handling of the pandemic and underwhelming free school meal offer to children nationally and locally. While all Councillors must continue to do this, my main objective will be to improve the lives of all people in Seaham.

“I think it’s vital that we remain a transparent Council focused on delivering for the people and organisations of Seaham. As a teacher and mother, one of my main objectives will be to help our young people and provide the best possible outcomes for them as they live and thrive in our communities.

“I love Seaham, but I’m not blind to some of the issues that require attention – Seaham Town Council will focus on tackling antisocial behaviour, and key to this will be reducing the need for security guards in our parks.

“We will engage with young people more and further enhance the strong sense of community we have in the area. I genuinely can’t wait to get started.”

Cllr Charlton-Lainé grew up in East Durham, her family living in the area for generations. Her grandad was the Colliery Overman at Dawdon Pit, where her father also worked.

A secondary school teacher at Dene Academy, Cllr Charlton-Lainé is responsible for aspects of students social, moral, spiritual and cultural growth.

“I work hard to create opportunities for students,” she added. “It’s vital that as well as a good education, young people develop a growth mindset that includes wellness, knowledge of the wider world, politics and health; and I’d like to carry that into my work as Leader of the Town Council. I want to develop inclusive and transparent information sharing, in the hope that residents of Seaham engage with the Council and help underpin the community with a strong, diverse voice.”

“I intend to continue community surgeries to interact with those who need support and guidance and will strive to ensure that cross service meetings take place between Police, Firefighters and other organisations to deliver a strategic plan for Seaham surrounding anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Charlton-Lainé is married with two children, aged three and seven, and is currently completing a Masters Degree in Senior Leadership & Business Management. In addition, she is also a school governor for Ropery Walk Primary School.

During the pandemic, she received recognition for her efforts working with students and staff to create over 2,500 pieces of PPE for the NHS and local care homes. MP Grahame Morris wrote to the Prime Minister to recognise her work, utilising recycled materials to create the safety equipment.