Borough welcomes new mayor as Cabinet revealed

Mayor Hugh Patterson

THE BOROUGH’S new Mayor and Deputy Mayor were sworn into their posts last week as the Council’s new Cabinet saw some interesting changes.

At the annual Full Council meeting last week, May 24, Leader of the Council, Cllr Ben Chapelard (Lib Dem) announced the continuation of the Borough Partnership and revealed who would be joining him in his new Cabinet.

Remaining in post is Cllr Nancy Warne (Alliance) as Deputy Leader and Member of Communities, Cllr Hugo Pound (Labour) for Housing and Planning, and Cllr Christopher Hall (Lib Dem) as Member for Finance and Performance.

Re-joining Cabinet but in new roles are Cllr Justine Rutland (Lib Dem) as Member for Economic Development and Cllr Wendy Fitzsimmonds (Lib Dem) as the Member for Sport, Leisure and Health.

New members joining this year are Cllr Ellen Neville (Alliance) as Member for Environmental Services and newly-elected Cllr Jayne Sharratt (Labour) as the Member for Sustainability.

The Council Leader also appointed seven champions to assist his Cabinet: Cllr Peter Lidstone (Lib Dem); Cllr Alex Bricher-Allan (Labour); Cllr Mark Ellis (Lib Dem), and Cllr Matthew Sankey (Alliance) remain in post as Walking and Cycling, Charities and Voluntary sector, Town Market, and Local Business Champions, respectively.

Taking up three brand-new positions are Alliance councillors Steve McMillan and David Knight as Planning Champion and Rural Communities Champion, and Conservative councillor, Paul Roberts as the Armed Forces Covenant Champion.

The meeting also celebrated the appointment of the town’s newest mayor, Cllr Hugh Patterson (Lib Dem), who was officially inaugurated into his new duty at the Town Hall.

Cllr Patterson, the councillor for Capel ward and a part-time History and Politics teacher, will be taking over the mayorship from Cllr Godfrey Bland (Conservative).

Mayor Patterson served as a councillor between 2012 and 2016 and stood again in 2021. His wife, Sandra, will accompany him as Mayoress during his year in office.

Addressing the Council chamber for the first time, adorned in his robes and mayoral chain, Mayor Patterson announced: “I would like to thank my fellow councillors for entrusting me with this position this year, and I will do my very best to represent the Borough, and look forward to visiting as many communities within it as is possible.

“I pay tribute to Godfrey in his absence for his excellent example of service, which he has set us for this year. I can only hope to emulate his example in 2023/24.”

Seconding the motion, Cllr Ben Chapelard said: “Hugh won his re-election after successive wins and losses, like a yo-yo of a football team in and out of the Premiership, with a score even Mr Putin would be happy with, but in a full democratic, open election. I think that represents the calibre that Hugh is as a representative of Capel.

“Clearly people really care and value the public service that Hugh makes … and I just want to wish him all the best in his year and thank you, personally from me, for all your wisdom and guidance you’ve given me this year in my current role.”

Mayor Patterson also announced the two new charities he will support for this coming year: the Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre and the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Charitable Fund.

Explaining why he chose those charities, Mayor Patterson said: “The Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre is a charity largely run by volunteers who provide legal, housing and other advice free to local residents. It is obviously close to the ward I represent, so it is of particular importance to me.

“Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Charitable Fund raises funds for hospitals and the patients in it. I thought this was particularly appropriate on the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

“It is also a way of expressing my gratitude for the quality of care and speedy and successful treatment I received following my prostate cancer diagnosis last year.”

The Deputy Mayor was proclaimed as Cllr Nicholas Pope (Alliance) and he was dressed in his official robes before the Chamber.

On his appointment, Cllr Pope said: “I would like to thank my fellow Borough councillors for considering me for this role. It’s a great honour and I look forward to working on behalf of the Borough as Deputy Mayor.”

Nominating Cllr Pope for the position as Mayor was Cllr Matthew Sankey, who said: “Nick opened the door to this chamber for those who do not have a political home in the traditional sense. In fact, looking around me here, it is well and truly wedged open.

“I am genuinely proud to call Nick a friend and cannot think of a more fitting person to become Deputy Mayor … Nick is the perfect person to lead by example in what is sure to be a very exciting time as we move from 48 to 39 councillors.”

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