COUNCILLORS last night elected a “wonderful man” to take on the role as the first citizen of the borough.

Hendon ward councillor Anthony Finn will officially become mayor of Barnet later this year when the council meets at its full annual meeting in May.

The 63-year-old was the Conservative's candidate for the position, and was nominated by two of his predecessors.

Ward colleague Maureen Braun, who stood as mayor for the year 2007-08, said Cllr Finn had contributed much to the borough and is “well respected as in the council and in the wider community of Barnet”.

She said he is a “warm hearted and genuine person”, adding he is “even tempered with a strong sense of humour”.

Councillor John Marshall, who succeeded Cllr Braun , said Cllr Finn is a “wonderful man” and added: “Barnet will be fortunate to have Cllr Finn as Mayor.”

Labour group members nominated Councillor Ansuya Sodha as their candidate for mayor and she was supported by her two West Hendon ward colleagues Julie Johnson and Agnes Slocombe.

A majority of 32 votes to 18 were received for Cllr Finn, and on accepting the nomination, he joked: “I have not had so many nice things said about me since my Bar mitzvah .”

Cllr Finn, who has been on the council for 20 years, has held various cabinet positions in that time and is currently chairman of the budget and performance overview and scrutiny committee.

He will take over from current Mayor, Councillor Brian Coleman.

Cllr Finn said he was “honoured” to take on the mayoralty and added: “I hope to serve the community well and look forward to an exciting year ahead.”

In his role as Mayor, he will be expected to remain non-politicised, although he said the time away from the forefront of borough politics may invigorate his ambitions on the council.

He has chosen his wife of almost 40 years, Anita, to be his mayoress and invited Brunswick Park ward councillor Lisa Rutter to be deputy mayor.