As James Ramsbotham prepared to hand over the chairmanship of Darlington Building Society, a position he was appointed to in April 2013, he was keen to focus on those looking to get on the housing ladder.

The outgoing chair underlined that housing in the North East has become increasingly more affordable than elsewhere in the UK when comparing house prices to earnings. “Analysis shows that people in the North East have a better chance of getting on the property ladder when considering the property prices in comparison to household income. The ratio in the North East works out between 22 per cent and 30 per cent whereas in other parts of the UK it is much higher, making properties less affordable. When you couple this with the fact that stamp duty is no longer payable for first-time buyers with properties up to £500,000 in value and the Help to Buy scheme is available, there are lots of reasons for people to look to buy their first home in our area. For anyone who is looking for their first home, I would encourage them to investigate their options.”

“Our Society was created some 162 years ago to assist local people to purchase their own homes and this is still at the heart of what we do as an organisation. I am incredibly proud that after all these years we have a regional building society that is driven by the same values and purpose as it was back in 1856.”

Ramsbotham leaves Darlington Building Society having served on the Board since 2006 – it is testament to his leadership and dedication to the Society that he has served the maximum term possible on the Board. He will hand over the chairmanship to Jack Cullen, an existing Board member.

Chief Executive Colin Fyfe said “Everyone at Darlington Building Society wishes James all the very best for the future and to thank him for all that he has done to progress the Society. It is the end of an era. James has been a fantastic chairman and he will be missed by all those who have enjoyed working with him over the years. He leaves a Society that looks set for a strong future – there can be no better legacy than that.”