‘Pathetic’: Row breaks out after council deposes mayor as meeting chair
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
The Mayor of Newport will no longer chair full council meetings after controversial plans were passed by Newport City Council.
The leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Matthew Evans, described the proposal for a presiding office as “pathetic” after it was presented to the council on Tuesday, January 25.
The presiding officer would have the responsibility of chairing full council meetings from May onwards – a responsibility currently held by the Mayor, Cllr David William.
The new role will be filled by a councillor alongside their current role and will have an annual salary of £25,000.
It aims to “modernise” the system while allowing the Mayor more time to focus on their other duties.
A motion to approve the proposal of the new role was put forward by Labour councillor Phil Hourahine, who represents the St Julians ward.
Cllr Evans has put forward an amendment to return the issue to the Democratic Services Committee – this was then voted on and rejected.
The issue was brought to full council because councillors on the Democratic Services Committee could not come to an agreement on the matter.
‘Lack of detail’
Cllr Evans criticised the lack of detail in the proposal and said it would not have cross-party support.
Conservative councillor Joan Watkins said: “It seems to me that this is an attempt to reduce the position of the Mayor of Newport.”
Cllr Watkins, who represents Tredegar Park, added: “The mayoral role is very important in this city and part of this role is to chair the full council.”
Council leader Jane Mudd said the council had put in a formal bid for the Mayor of Newport to be upgraded to Lord Mayor as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee honours in June.
Conservative councillor Tom Suller, who represents Marshfield, said the proposal was going against the history and honour of being Mayor of Newport.
The report stated that chairing council meetings involves a different skill set from the role of Mayor.
Labour councillor for Shaftesbury, Paul Cockerham, said: “Some people can chair meetings and some people cannot. It needs to be more professional.”
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