Leicester City man promoted to Premier League position as Marlborough's 707th mayor
"It's gone by so quickly" outgoing Town mayor Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton told marlborough.news. Indeed it had - and here we were at another Mayor Making ceremony.
Councillor Mervyn Hall was elected and sworn in as Marlborough's 707th Mayor and donned the red robes. And Councillor Lisa Farrell was elected and sworn in as his Deputy - donning the blue robes. Among the audience in the Court Room of the Town Hall were Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton, and the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Lady Marland.
Also present were family, friends and colleagues of the new Mayors, as well as notable Marlborough residents - including many former Town Mayor's. Attempts to count them kept failing - but we certainly reached seventeen.
Among the former mayors were Tony Gray, who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award (see separate story - coming soon), and Stewart Dobson, who has stood down as a town councillor after forty-six years service to the town. He received a special award. At the recent elections, he retained a seat on Wiltshire Council.
Councillor Hall's election as mayor was proposed by the outgoing mayor. He praised Councillor Hall's 'integrity and knowledge', mentioned his career as an engineer told the audience about his invention of an electronic finger print scanner which should give potential criminals pause for thought.
Seconding the election, Councillor Nick Fogg (another former Marlborough mayor) dwelt on new mayor's upbringing in Leicester and had apparently caught Councillor Hall watching Leicester City on his iPad during a committee meeting. Surely not!
Councillor Fogg was a bit nonplussed to find - after considerable research among mottos around Leicestershire - that the town's world famous football team had no motto whatsoever. The City itself has the motto Semper Eadem - Ever the Same...a very conservative [sub editor: please note small 'c'] and surely not one that would fit Marlborough.
Former mayor Councillor Andy Ross proposing Councillor Farrell as deputy mayor for 2017-2018, recalled how she came into local politics through her successful campaign for an 'affordable supermarket' in the town. He recalled that as mayor he had accompanied her when she cut the ribbon to open the Tesco supermarket.
He said that her family would, of course, be proud of her: "We're all proud of you - you'll look great in blue!" And indeed she did.
Seconding her, Councillor Loosmore (a former mayor) talked about her 'passion for the town and its people'. He asked everyone to support her this year in preparation for her mayoral year: "She will do it her way."
After his election, Councillor Hall thanked his colleagues and mentioned that he was not the first Marlborough Mayor to hail from Leicester - Graham Francis had preceded him as a Leicester lad.
The new Town Mayor emphasised there was a lot of work to do in the coming year - taking over the Youth Centre, completing the Neighbourhood Plan and trying to solve "with our limited powers" some of the town's main problems: the lack of affordable housing, the poor parking provision and the high levels of air pollution in parts of the town.
"It is," he said, "very satisfying to be able to put something back into the town - especially for my grandchildren." And they, most appropriately, had seats in the front row.
Mayor Hall has chosen Home-Start Kennet, who work with vulnerable families in the area, and Julia's House new children's hospice in Devizes which will have a team of outreach nurses. The outgoing mayor had raised £3,500 for his two charities - the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Swift Medics.
Councillor Fogg, on his feet again to pay tribute to the outgoing mayor, emphasised his Anglo-Irish heritage - he had to the same school as Oscar Wilde. He quoted Anglo-Irish poet Yeats' pessimistic lines - "Things fall apart..." - but said that Noel Barrett-Morton was a great and cheerful optimist.
Councillor Fogg mentioned that the new Town Council had just one named Conservative councillor - though, he added, others may be on that side of the party divide: "There will be no discrimination against this minority group." But Councillor Barrett-Morton would have to be his party's leader, chief whip and back bencher. Quite a task!
The outgoing mayor told the Town Hall audience that he was glad he had been able to work with a 'harmonious' council during his year in office. He thanked his wife Susan for her support - and thanked "her wardrobe mistress in Mayfair." He had gifts and thanks for his Chaplain, Rev Dr Janneke Blokland and for the council staff.
He ended with good wishes and for everyone - in Irish - with, of course, a Barrett-Morton smile.
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