THE party politics surrounding the election of Newbury’s mayor and deputy mayor came under the spotlight at a recent meeting of the full town council.
During his report to council members last Wednesday, outgoing mayor Julian Swift-Hook appeared to take umbrage over a Conservative councillor taking on the role of deputy mayor.
Clay Hill councillor Margo Payne (Con, Clay Hill), who was elected to the council for the first time in 2015, was the only nomination, and will be expected take on the role of mayor next May.
She will follow current mayor David Fenn (Con, Falkland) (pictured), who was sworn in last Sunday (May 14).
Mr Swift-Hook said: “Even though the role of mayor and deputy mayor are both clearly considered to be non-political, and have been for as long as I can remember, the process by which the mayor and deputy mayor are nominated is unfortunately still apparently based in political considerations, even after 20 years.”
Mr Swift-Hook argued the role of mayor and deputy mayor should be based on length of time served on the council, rather than on the political make-up of the council.
The Lib Dem councillor, who has held the position of mayor for the last 12 months, added that his argument was “in no way a reflection of my views of the prospective nominee for deputy mayor elect”.
Mr Swift-Hook’s views were backed up by fellow Lib Dem councillor Arthur Johnson who, when discussing nominations for deputy mayor, said: “In my opinion there are three more senior members of the council who would be more appropriate to become deputy mayor.”
Former leader of the council Dave Goff (Con, Clay Hill) defended the nomination, saying it had followed the existing process and there was no provision in the council’s standing orders to govern the appointment of the roles.