Brian becomes Exmouth mayor amid party politics row

PUBLISHED: 12:30 27 May 2016

New Mayor of Exmouth Brian Cole (right) with new deputy mayor Jeff Trail.

New Mayor of Exmouth Brian Cole (right) with new deputy mayor Jeff Trail.

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Councillor Brian Cole has been named as the new Mayor of Exmouth.

He was elected to the post by fellow councillors at this week’s annual meeting of Exmouth Town Council.

He takes over from outgoing mayor Councillor Maddy Chapman, under whom he served as deputy mayor for the past year.

Councillor Jeff Trail was elected to serve as deputy mayor.

Following his election, Cllr Cole said: “I would like to thank councillors for electing me to represent the town as mayor, something I consider a great honour and a great privilege.”

Cllr Cole also named the Alzheimer’s Society as his chosen mayoral charity.

The outcome of the meeting, which also saw the election of committee chairmen and lead councillors for different subjects, prompted some criticism from Liberal Democrat councillors, who were unhappy that all the posts voted on at the meeting went to members of the majority Conservative group.

Lib Dem group leader Councillor Steve Gazzard had been proposed as an alternative deputy mayor to Conservative Cllr Trail, but was unsuccessful as the vote fell along party lines.

Lib Dem Councillor Brian Toye, who seconded the nomination of Cllr Gazzard, said: “Unfortunately, this is one of those occasions where common sense seems to get dropped and party loyalty takes over.

“In my opinion, Steve is by far and away a better person to be deputy mayor. He’s got much more experience. He speaks with a great deal of conviction and a great deal of knowledge about the town.”

Lib Dem Councillor Pat Graham said: “It’s time we left these party politics outside the door.

“There are lots of people around this table who are very qualified to do all sorts of things. It would be so nice to see everybody working together for the benefit of Exmouth.”

Responding after the meeting, Councillor Bill Nash, leader of the town council Conservatives, said: “For many years, the Lib Dems had majority control of the council and, during that period, they shared no positions whatsoever.

“It’s a little hypocritical to say we should be sharing in the future when, in the past, they wouldn’t allow it.”

Councillor Nash went on to argue that, if Conservatives and Lib Dems were to agree to stand independently, this would just allow other political parties to take control of the council.

He continued: “It wouldn’t take the politics out of the town council. There are councillors there now with experience and they wouldn’t get in. Independents don’t get in.”

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