THREE former councillors who dedicated a combined total of 125 years to serving their communities look set to be honoured.

It has been proposed to admit ex-Darlington council leader Bill Dixon as a honorary freeman of the borough and bestow the title of honorary alderman on former mayors David Lyonette and Tony Richmond, who all stepped down from the authority earlier this year having first been elected in the 1970s.

The titles are awarded to those who have who have “rendered eminent service” to the borough and the council, respectively.

In order to admit people to the titles, at least two-thirds of the council’s 50 members must agree to convening a special meeting of the unitary authority.

It is understood the overwhelming majority of the authority’s 50 members are expected to approve conferring the titles on the former councillors as soon as possible.

It has been proposed to make Mr Dixon an honorary freeman – the highest civic honour that the council can give.

The former Eastbourne ward councillor would become the borough’s first honorary freeman since it was awarded to the late John Williams and Alisdair MacConachie in November 2011.

Mr Dixon was first elected as a councillor in 1979 aged 26 and served as Mayor of Darlington in 1999. He became deputy leader of the council in 1991 and served as leader of the council from 2011, focussing on economic growth, job creation and housebuilding.

The Labour member’s work included helping create the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the devolution of funding ahead of unprecedented central government funding cutbacks.

Fellow former Labour member David Lyonette, who was first elected in 1973, served as the town’s mayor in 1992.

He led the council on regeneration and planning for two decades and has been credited with shaping a significant proportion of the borough’s built environment.

Mr Lyonette later became the authority’s transport boss, when he strived to encourage more people to travel by bus offers to boost the borough’s employment, shopping and leisure facilities.

Ahead of stepping down, he said the restoration of former industrial areas beside the River Skerne and the creation of a walkway along the river into the town centre were among his proudest achievements.

At the time, Cllr Dixon paid tribute to Cllr Lyonette, saying: “His knowledge is phenomenal and will be a huge loss to the council.”

Former Conservative member Tony Richmond was first elected to the authority in 1976 and became leader of Darlington’s Conservatives in May 1988, a role which he held for almost 20 years.

The engineer served as the town’s Mayor in 1993 and stood against former Darlington Labour MP Alan Milburn in the 2001 General Election.

As he stepped down due to ill health earlier this year, Councillor Charles Johnson described him as “the perfect councillor” and said he was a particularly popular figure among the electorate.

Mr Richmond added: “It has been an absolute pleasure – it has been so nice to have so many lovely messages from so many people.

“I will really miss it, but I have loved every minute of it.”