Friday, 25 February 2011

Who will be our next mayor?

IN a non-election year town councillors choose their mayor-elect and deputy mayor in March with both being installed at the ancient mayor-making ceremony late in May.

But for obvious reasons, that cannot happen in an election year (we go to the polls on May 5th) because there is no guarantee that the nominees will be elected to the council.

So a successor to Councillor Michaela Ellis, if there will be one, will not be elected until a week after the election.

Michaela has served a two-year period, the normal term, as the town’s First Citizen with great enthusiasm and dignity, well supported by husband-consort Alan and expecially by her youngest daughter Kelsey, who has acompanied her mum on many civic events over the past two years.

Kelsey has been a great credit to her mum and dad - and, indeed the town. The Ellis and Emmett clans will gather at the Woodmead Halls on Friday, March 4th, along with town representatives and neighbouring civic leaders, for their annual civic night.

Someone asked me last week whether Michaela would be able to serve another term.
The correct answer to that is, I believe, "yes," if no other candidate wishes to stand.
It is customary for the mayor to step down after two years in office if there is another councillor who wishes to stand. In the past, Barbara Austin, one of the town’s most popular first citizens, served two three-year stints.

So who will be our next mayor? That’s a really difficult, if not impossible, question to answer because of the election. It is more than likely that the main candidates will be returned as councillors but with the possibility of 20 or more candidates I don’t think anyone, with the exception of a couple, can be sure about their re-election.

When there is such a long list of nominations, the position on the ballot paper can be a distinct advantage. Therefore, Austin B. (Barbara) and Austin R, (Rikey), providing both of them stand, will be first on the list. But Williams P. (Peter) and Williams S. (Stanley) will be at a severe disadvantage with just 14 councillors to be elected. Some electors start ticking the boxes from the top and then realise they have already ticked 14 names before getting to the bottom of the list. It happens.

If I was a betting man (and I’m not), I would venture to suggest that Owen Lovell, one the council’s most experienced members who has served two previous two-year terms as mayor, could be a potential candidate.

Sally Holman’s name has also been mentioned. She did two years as First Citizen before Michaela, during which time she championed a number of procedural changes in the running of the council. She may well feel there’s more to be done on this front.

But first there’s the small matter of the election to be dealt with...


IT’S quite a few years since I’ve been to a pantomime in Lyme Regis, usually leaving coverage of the annual production to my esteemed theatre crtic Keith Jenkin.

In fact, I think the last Lyme panto I saw was when I was mayor back in 1985 and I distinctly remember Les Loveridge seranading Jackie in the front row with 'Cindy Oh Cindy.'

So I am looking forward to reviewing this year’s panto, Sinbad The Sailor at the Marine Theatre on Friday evening.

Actually, I got a sneak preview of the show when I attended the dress rehearsal on Monday evening to take the photos for our double page spread on pages 8 and 9 - and it looks to be a really lively show.

I know dress rehearsals are meant to iron out any problems prior to the opening night but I have to say there seemed very few indeed and I think Lyme audiences are in for a real treat this week.

Principals Tina Pavey and Amy Street will get rave reviews if their dress rehearsal performance is anything to go by and look out for the Dame - played by town crier Phil Street. He’s hilarious.

The show runs until Saturday evening (with a matinee on Saturday afternoon) so book a ticket if you haven’t done so already.

How the halls became the greenest in Dorset

AS secretary of the Woodmead Halls management committee I was delighted to hear that one of our members, local builder Charlie Kapur, had been awarded West Dorset District Council’s green champion accolade.

No one deserves it more.

When I joined the halls committee last year the hope of getting a much-needed new roof coupled with a photo-voltaic energy producing scheme was fading fast.

But then Charlie stepped into the breach and in a matter of weeks he had secured funding for the project and within a matter of months the work was complete, making the halls virtually energy free.

He admitted it was a huge learning curve, working against a strict deadline. As a result of his efforts, the Woodmead Halls is now one of the greenest and most energy efficient public halls in Dorset.

Halls chairman Stan Williams paid tribute to Charlie at the last management committee meeting and also mentioned in dispatches Jim Sweetland who also contributed greatly to the initial planning. Well done to both of them.

ELECTION UPDATE: I wrote in this column last week about the runners and riders in the forthcoming town and district elections and mentioned that I thought sitting district councillor Pat Hicks would be standing again.

Pat stopped me in Broad Street this week to confirm that he was definitely standing again.
So with two other declared candidates - Daryl Turner and George Symonds, both standing on a Tory ticket - there will definitely be an election for Lyme’s two district council seats.

Nominations for both town and district elections have to be in by noon on Monday, April 4th with polling taking place on Thursday, May 5th.

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