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Chairman aims to 'make a difference'

'First citizen' of district urges council to engage with residents

Fiona Tomas

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Fiona Tomas

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Chairman aims to 'make a difference'

THE new chairman of West Berkshire Council has used her maiden speech to urge district councillors to “reach out and engage” with residents, who she says could one day be standing in her shoes.

Carol Jackson-Doerge was sworn in as West Berkshire Council’s chairman for the 2018-19 year this week and she conducted her first full meeting after shedding light on her unique journey into politics.

Mrs Jackson-Doerge will be supported in her role by Peter Argyle (Con, Calcot).

She replaces Quentin Webb, whose two-year tenure as chairman came to an end.

The ward member for Burghfield, Mrs Jackson-Doerge has been a councillor since 2007.

She was vice-chairman in 2012-13 and then again from September 2016, following the appointment of the previous vice-chairman, Jeanette Clifford, to the executive, until May 2018.

The chairman is the formal representative of the district council and is considered the ‘first citizen’ of the district. The role is supported by a vice-chairman, who can act as a delegate.

Speaking to a packed chamber on Tuesday evening, Mrs Jackson-Doerge urged members to connect with residents in the simplest of ways, like she did, by responding to a public consultation more than a decade ago. 

She said: “Who would have thought that an unofficial, casual conversation 12 years ago, of unintended consequences, would have led me down this path?

“Reach out and encourage our residents to get involved in their councils.

“They can start by just replying to a consultation, just like me. They, too, may one day be standing here in the future.

“I am a woman born and brought up in south-east London, who was never involved in politics, but I’ve always had a passion to make a difference.

“Wherever I go, I will promote West Berkshire as a good place to live and work and that we’re open for business.”

Councillor Emma Webster (Con, Birch Copse) formally nominated Mrs Jackson-Doerge on Tuesday evening. 

Miss Webster said: “I think it’s very fitting that in a centenary year in which many women were given the opportunity to vote for the first time, that Carol is our chairman.

“I know that she will serve the community well, both inside and outside this chamber.”

Graham Jones and Hilary Cole remain as Conservative group leader of the council and deputy group leader respectively.

James Fredrickson has been appointed portfolio holder for economic development and communications, while Dominic Boeck becomes portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, leisure and culture.

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Article comments

  • NWNREADER

    14/05/2018 - 20:08

    By whom is the Office-holder considered to be the 'first citizen'?

    Reply