Change at the top as our new lead­ers take over the reins

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­group.co.uk

IT WAS all change at Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil as a new leader, deputy leader, mayor and deputy mayor were ap­pointed to their posts.

Coun­cil­lors bade farewell to mayor John Hol­land who stood down from his po­si­tion with his wife and may­oress Gill.

In his farewell speech Cllr Hol­land de­scribed his time as mayor as a “roller coaster year”.

He said: “I re­mem­ber open­ing a res­i­dence for the el­derly and a lady ques­tioned the weight of the chain. I gave it to her and she yelled out ‘look girls, I’m hold­ing the mayor’s thingy’. I didn’t know where to put my face.”

Cllr Hol­land praised the parishes in the bor­ough he had vis­ited for putting on events for res­i­dents, the schools he had vis­ited and the work of an Ash­ford train­ing course for young­sters called In­di­vid­ual Mo­ti­va­tion Phys­i­cal Aca­demic Con­fi­dence Train­ing (IM­PACT).

He also paid trib­ute to his for­mer chauf­feur, and that of 16 pre­vi­ous may­ors, Richard Vella. Mr Vella died in March from can­cer aged just 53.

It was also good­bye to coun­cil leader Paul Clokie who made way for Paul Bartlett.

Tak­ing over the reins Cllr Bartlett promised his fel­low coun­cil­lors to “work hard to de­liver all that your ex­pect from me”.

The for­mer deputy leader of eight years said: “I’d like to pay trib­ute to ev­ery­thing Cllr Clokie has done in the last 11 years.

“He’s been an in­spi­ra­tion for many of us. He has tire­lessly worked for the town and changed it for the bet­ter.”

Coun­cil­lors Peter Dav­i­son and Jack Wood­ford ab­stained from vot­ing in Cllr Bartlett. Cllr Dav­i­son said: “We have been asked to vote for a leader who can­not give his full time to the job.”

Cllr Peter Wood has been ap­pointed as the deputy leader. Cllr Clokie will re­main in the coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, tak­ing over strate­gic plan­ning.

Mer­sham res­i­dent Cllr Bartlett added: “Main­tain­ing a strong and sta­ble fi­nan­cial po­si­tion and hav­ing a clear vi­sion of our long-term goals will go some way to­wards pre­par­ing us for the dif­fi­cult times ahead.

“We will con­tinue to pro­vide value for money whilst aim­ing to keep coun­cil tax rates low and de­liv­er­ing the ser­vices that res­i­dents most need and want.”

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