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