Lib-Dem is pop­u­lar choice for mayor

SUR­PRISE MOVE: Break with tra­di­tion over deputy in be­hind-the-scenes wran­gle

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OFF THE RECORD - by Mike Ben­nett

ALL-PARTY sup­port will see Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­cil­lor Rita Hawes be­come only the fifth fe­male Mayor of Ash­ford bor­ough tonight (Thurs­day) .

But the choice of deputy mayor has taken op­po­si­tion groups by sur­prise af­ter a se­ries of be­hind the scenes wran­gles since the elec­tions ear­lier this month.

In the past the mayor and deputy, who takes over as mayor the fol­low­ing year, have been taken in turn from all the elected groups.

Un­der that sys­tem it would have been Labour’s turn to put for­ward a nom­i­nee but with only Cllr Allen Wells, who was the last Labour mayor, and Cllr Bren­dan Naughton back af­ter a break, Labour was un­able to pro­duce a can­di­date.

Most thought that next in line would be an In­de­pen­dent with Ash­ford In­de­pen­dent Cllr John Hol­land be­ing touted as the likely se­lec­tion.

But the rul­ing Con­ser­va­tives scup­pered those plans by an­nounc­ing the deputy mayor would be their St Michaels mem­ber Cllr John Link, a for­mer parish Mayor of Ten­ter­den.

At the new coun­cil se­lec­tion com­mit­tee meet­ing last Thurs­day the Ash­ford In­de­pen­dent leader Cllr Peter Dav­i­son ques­tioned when it would be his group’s turn again and was told it was be­tween the three main par­ties, with an In­de­pen­dent nom­i­na­tion taken ev­ery so of­ten.

Squab­bles

Coun­cil leader Cllr Paul Clokie (Con) said: “The gap be­tween In­de­pen­dent may­ors Reg Har­ring­ton and Mal­colm Eke was 11 years so next year we have to de­cide if we are go­ing to have a Lib­eral Demo­crat deputy mayor or look else­where.”

Mrs Hawes’ se­lec­tion is due to be con­firmed at tonight’s coun­cil mayor-mak­ing meet­ing.

Com­ing to the area in 1957, she worked as a teacher at Ash­ford Gram­mar School for Girls (now High­worth), with a break of seven years while her two chil­dren were small, un­til 1994.

She taught mainly bi­ol­ogy but at var­i­ous times was in charge of ca­reers and work ex­pe­ri­ence and was act­ing deputy head.

Since 1961, she has lived in Boughton Aluph with hus­band John who taught at Dun­can Bower School (now Christ Church) for 25 years.

Mrs Hawes was a mem­ber of Boughton and East­well parish coun­cil for 30 years in­clud­ing a spell as chair­man.

She was elected to the bor­ough coun­cil in Au­gust 1994 and has chaired sev­eral key com­mit­tees. Cur­rently she chairs the Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Fo­rum.

Rita Hawes will be the fifth fe­male mayor and John Link will be her deputy

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