The next Lord Mayor is a shoo-in. Of course. And not everybody’s happy about it. Of course.
So, the Canterbury City Conservatives have “arranged” a smooth transition from one Lord Mayor to the next. Please don’t be surprised or disappointed by the absence of consultation – it seems to be their style. They may have a grudging admiration for the Soviet era ballots with 99% turnout and 100% agreement. I expect the North Korean style of compulsory consistent consensus is an inspiration to our own Precious Leader, Jonji-il Bi. But when it comes down to it, is anyone bothered which councillors fill the roles of Lord Mayor and Sheriff? Wouldn’t it be smarter to choose the most photogenic and media-savvy people from the district, regardless of whether they’re councillors?
Anger over lack of consultation for Lord Mayor choice
Tory councillor Pat Todd has been nominated to take on the role of Lord Mayor for a second time. An email sent to all council members this week by leader Cllr John Gilbey stated that Cllr Todd is in line for the prestigious civic job, a post he previously held in 2006/7. Another Tory councillor, Northgate representative Sally Pickersgill, has also been nominated as the new Sheriff of Canterbury.
The pair are expected to be voted in by the Conservative-controlled council at its annual meeting at the Guildhall on May 12, replacing Cllrs Harry Cragg and Gabrielle Davis. But Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Alex Perkins is angry that opposition councillors have again been ‘frozen out’ of the selection process. He said:
“I’ve got nothing against Pat. He’s a good bloke who did a fine job last time he was Lord Mayor. But yet again we’ve not been consulted and instead had this presidential style announcement via email by the council leader. It’s very wrong because there are other councillors who would have liked to have been offered the opportunity.”
Labour group leader Cllr Julia Seath said:
“There are only two Labour members on the council and as it happens neither of us are interested. Cllr Todd is a very likeable and capable councillor but he has done it before and it would have been nice to see perhaps a long-serving Liberal Democrat member have the chance. But I’m not surprised. How the Conservatives have handled it has become a bit par for the course with them.”
Cllr Gilbey said the group had started the selection process some months ago because they did not want it to clash with the general election. He said that neither opposition groups had contacted him about any of their potential candidates and he accused them of not supporting the role of Lord Mayor by failing to attend civic functions like the Lord Mayor’s ball. He said:
“They very rarely turn up and it’s really poor because it’s about recognising the importance of the office of Lord Mayor as much as the individual. Pat was the only one in the group who was really keen and there is no precedent which says he can’t serve a second term. We know he is very capable and a safe pair of hands and that’s what the position needs because it carries significant responsibilities. We had three candidates for Sheriff from the group but the vote went to Cllr Pickersgill who I am sure will do a good job.”
HB Gazette 6th May 2010