Milford Haven’s new mayor took the reins for the forthcoming year when she was sworn in as the town’s first citizen on Monday.

Although raised in London, Councillor Yvonne Southwell spent most of her childhood in Pembrokeshire, returning to Milford Haven ten years ago.

She said: “It is my intention to build and develop the office of mayor and the work of the town council and continue to encourage transparency and good communications with the people of the town.

“My particular interest in the youth organisations will be manifest in my desire to visit as many as possible and support them while they are meeting to see how much has changed since I was active in the Guiding movement.”

She added that despite the town's progress, the decline of the town centre weighed heavily on her mind.

She said: “It must be said that we do have some fantastic businesses operating and putting their all and succeeding to attract many loyal customers. But more is needed.

“It is this aspect of my time as mayor that I would like to continue the pressure and influence that the town council can bring to establish a plan to regenerate the centre of our town.”

For her charities, Cllr Southwell chose Crossroads Care, Latch and Alzheimer’s Wales.

Addressing Cllr Southwell, outgoing mayor Cllr Guy Woodham said: “I wish her every success and hope she enjoys the next 12 months as much as I have enjoyed my time in the role. It is not a position that should be taken on lightly and to do it right requires stamina, patience and determination.

“I know you possess these three qualities and in addition offer my own support to you in helping you achieve all that you wish to do during your term of office.”

He added: “My year of office is now over and I can honestly say, while I have been blessed with many positive experiences throughout my life, the last year has truly been the most enjoyable and most memorable one so far.”

During the year, Cllr Woodham and consort Colin Sharp undertook more than 250 official engagements, and a foreign visit to twin town Uman, in the Ukraine.

He said: “I have enjoyed meeting so many different people, spending time with them and listening to what they have to say. It is these experiences that make the role of mayor such a rewarding one.

“The support I have received from the overwhelming majority of the people of Milford Haven has been amazing. I have been truly humbled and am extremely grateful for the support that you have given me.

"I also wish to make reference to those few individuals, who have been openly critical of me. By doing so, you provided an opportunity for me to reflect on my actions. I am grateful and thank you for this as my resolve has, and continues to be strengthened by your actions.

“Although I am no longer mayor, I do remain a town and a county councillor and in those two roles I re-affirm tonight my pledge to always try and do my very best for the wonderful people of this great town."

He added: “Thank you, and by the way, I will be back!”

After 50 years' service in community and local government, Councillor Eric Harries took up the post of deputy mayor on Monday.

He said: "I strive to do my best to assume the honour that has been placed on me. And I pledge to support Cllr Southwell in every way possible during your mayoralty."

Cllr Harries was first elected onto the District Council in 1949, and as well as chairing many committees, has held the post of mayor four times in 1979, 1990, 2000, and 2010.

Proposing Cllr Harries, Cllr Eden said: "He is considered by some as the father of the chamber, and by others to be the grandfather. And as a leader, he has been rock solid."