A PIONEERING approach has been adopted by a council to ensure that the needs of a town's older people are being met.

Councillor Elizabeth Young, of Hartlepool Borough Council, has been appointed as its first older people's champion.

Working at cabinet level, her role will be to focus on policy and planning and make sure that older people are being given due consideration.

She said: "I am delighted to have been given this brief and will do my best to try to ensure council services reflect their needs and interests.

"Older people also possess many qualities and skills which can be of benefit to the town and they should be given opportunities to put them into practice."

Councillor Arthur Preece, leader of the council, said: "We have an ageing population in Hartlepool, and this post recognises the fact that the views of older people count and need to be taken into account when making decisions or formulating policy."

Hartlepool was one of 28 councils selected by the Government to take part in the Better Government for Older People programme.

The aim was to improve services for older people by giving them a greater say, responding to their views and encouraging and recognising their contribution.

Mike Lauerman, the council's director of social services said: "The Better Government for Older People partnership in the town has demonstrated that, by working together, organisations can make a difference.

"A lot of things are now happening to benefit older people and it is often older people themselves who are driving matters forward.

"This appointment shows how determined we are to build upon this.