New Mayor of Melton takes office
Councillor Peter Faulkner was last night (Wednesday) elected as new Mayor of Melton in the first ever borough council meeting live-streamed online from the chamber.
The new man in the borough’s top civic role announced he would be supporting children and young people with cancer during his year in office by adopting CLIC Sargent as his official charity.
Councillor Faulkner, who represents Melton Egerton ward, had been due to take over as Mayor last May but the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and no prospect of any public engagements being organised, prompted Councillor Malise Graham to continue in the role for an extra year.
New Deputy Mayor, and consequently the likely Mayor for 2022-23, is Councillor Alan Hewson, member for Croxton Kerrial.
Last night’s annual meeting was the first in-person meeting of the council since March 2020, when the first lockdown came in.
Meetings have since then been held remotely on Zoom, with most councillors taking part from their own homes, but with restrictions easing it was deemed appropriate for members to return to the council chamber, with precautions in place to ensure it was a Covid-safe environment for councillors and the small number of people who attended in the public gallery.
The authority has invested in new audio-visual equipment, which was used for the first time to enable members of the public to follow meetings from the chamber without attending.
Councillor Alison Freer, cabinet portfolio holder for climate, accesss and engagement, said: “It’s good to be back holding face-to-face meetings in the council chamber once more.
“We have recently invested in new audio-visual equipment, which is a great asset and provides a positive step in terms of public access and involvement in the democratic process.
“We were able to live stream this in person meeting in the same way we have been live streaming the remote meetings over the past year.
“This allows our residents to access the meetings in way which suits them in today’s digital world and will help us promote community involvement in council decision-making.”
Changes were made to the make-up of the council’s cabinet at the meeting - Councillor Ronan Browne has a newly-created council homes and landlord services portfolio and outgoing Mayor, Councillor Malise Graham was appointed cabinet member for people and communities, another new portfolio.
Council leader, Councillor Joe Orson, said: “I am delighted to welcome two new colleagues to cabinet, having split what previously was a very large portfolio.
“Councillor Browne will bring his extensive expertise in housing management to the newly created portfolio.
“He will oversee our continuing housing improvement journey and work with the team to establish a new council house build programme.
“With his great passion for supporting the most vulnerable, Councillor Graham will take on his newly-created portfolio, giving focus to the work we do with our partners to tackle inequalities, reduce crime and support our priority neighbourhoods.
“I am delighted to be able to call upon such capable and experienced colleagues to join the cabinet in these new roles.”
Councillor Leigh Higgins will continue as deputy leader of the council while Councillor Ronnie de Burle (corporate finance and resources) and Councillor Freer retain their cabinet roles with slight adjustment to their responsibilities.
The meeting also saw the appointment of chairs of various committees, including scrutiny committee (Councillor Pat Cumbers); planning committee (Councillor Margaret Glancy); audit & standards committee (Councillor Robert Child); and licensing committee (Councillor Jeanne Douglas).