New mayor has a fine wel­come

CEN­TRE STAGE: Pledge to bring jobs and help young peo­ple

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FAMILY ALBUM -

Ash­ford’s an­nual coun­cil meet­ing is tra­di­tion­ally a non­po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ing of pomp and cer­e­mony with much back-slap­ping and praise for serv­ing mem­bers.

was in the civic cen­tre cham­ber to wit­ness this year’s mayor-mak­ing, which in­cluded a shock and an un­ex­pected at­tack on one group leader.

Mike Ben­nett

NEW Mayor Rita Hawes looked per­fect to play the part of first cit­i­zen of the bor­ough as she sat fully robed con­duct­ing her first of­fi­cial meet­ing, with the uni­ver­sal ap­proval of her col­leagues.

Tak­ing cen­tre stage as only the fifth fe­male to hold the of­fice in the town, she said it was an un­ex­pected priv­i­lege to be el­e­vated to first cit­i­zen half a cen­tury ago this month since she came to Ash­ford for a teach­ing-post in­ter­view.

Ac­cept­ing of­fice she pledged to wel­come new busi­ness to the area to pro­vide vi­tal jobs, en­cour­age young peo­ple to get in­volved in com­mu­nity life, and help ex­pand the net­work of vol­un­teers that clean-up neigh­bour­hoods.

She said: “Ash­ford is a di­verse place. Some parts are in a great state of change and oth­ers in our beau­ti­ful coun­try­side have not changed at all.

“I like the town and its peo­ple and love the sur­round­ing rural ar­eas. It is hard at present for town cen­tre shop­keep­ers but we are look­ing for­ward to the com­ing of the County Square ex­ten­sion and new Stour Cen­tre and the traf­fic cones will go away.”

She an­nounced that her char­ity for the year would be Ash­ford Pil­grims hospice as she was proud of the care they pro­vide for lo­cal peo­ple with ter­mi­nal ill­ness and their rel­a­tives.

Propos­ing her elec­tion vet­eran Cllr John Kemp said the Bar­net­born girl had be­come head girl at her lo­cal gram­mar school be­fore train­ing as a teacher and had com­pleted a dis­tin­guished ca­reer at High­worth School.

He said: “As a coun­cil­lor she works hard within her ward and has a wide and var­ied ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge of the way the coun­cil op­er­ates.

“She has chaired many com­mit­tees, has led her group and has al­ways acted in a pro­fes­sional man­ner no mat­ter what the cir­cum­stances. Above all she has the re­spect of her fel­low coun­cil­lors and of­fi­cials of the coun­cil.”

Cllr Bob David­son, who has taken her place as Lib Dem group leader, sec­onded her nom­i­na­tion.

He said: “For many years she has led us well and was never flus­tered and al­ways found an­swers to prob­lems.”

Cllr John Link, who served for four years as Ten­ter­den Mayor from 1991 be­fore be­ing elected on to the bor­ough coun­cil, will serve as deputy Mayor.

Ash­ford’s new mayor Cllr Rita Hawes

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