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First Neston Junior Mayor In as Former Mayor Bows Out

Published: 17th May 2017 07:46

Neston Primary School pupil Grace Jones has been installed as the first ever Junior Mayor of Neston, at a meeting that also saw the shock resignation of outgoing Town Mayor, Cllr Mike Shipman.

Grace, along with deputies Cameron McPhail from Parkgate Primary School and Luca Quayle from St Winefride's RC Primary, were invested at the Annual Meeting of Neston Town Council on Tuesday May 16th.

Neston's first Junior Mayor and DeputiesOutgoing Mayor Cllr Mike Shipman with new Junior Mayor of Neston, Grace Jones and her deputies, Cameron McPhail (l) and Luka Quayle (r).

 

The new Junior Mayor and deputies were presented with their badges of office by Cllr Shipman, in his last formal duty as Town Mayor.  The Junior Mayor role has been described as providing an additional link between the Town Council and the town's primary schools, staff and pupils, involving young people in the civic life of the town, and providing additional opportunities to deliver aspects of the National Curriculum; in particular preparing to play an active role as citizens.

 

Junior Mayor badgesThe new Junior Mayor and deputies will keep the blue badges as a permanent memento of their time in office. The gold badges will be handed over to their successors next year.

 

All four primary schools in the Town Council area (Neston, Parkgate, St Winefride's and Woodfall) are involved in the new scheme to provide candidates for the Junior Mayor and his or her deputies. This year Woodfall are not represented as they are providing the Rose Queen and attendants for Neston Village Fair.

Later in the Annual meeting, the new Town Mayor, Cllr Pat Kynaston and Deputy Mayor, Cllr David Carter were also appointed. However, the new Mayor was not present to receive the chain of office, apparently the first time this has occurred in the Council's history.

A new Councillor for Riverside ward, Caroline Howe, was co-opted. Cllr Howe is well known in the local area, both as a businesswoman and as the founder of Wirral Hedgehog Rescue. She is also a former Cheshire Woman of the Year nominee. 

Shock resignation

Following the Mayor-making formalities, the rest of the meeting got underway under the chairmanship of Deputy Mayor Cllr Carter.

At a previous meeting of full Council on March 28th this year, a new committee structure had been agreed, following a proposal from Cllr Shipman.  Out went Society & Culture, Planning and Environment, Finance and General Purposes and Town Centre, in came Policy, People, Places and Resources. According to the agenda for the Annual Meeting, an adjournment was due to take place to allow the new committees to appoint their Chairs.

However, an intervention by Cllr Ceri Lloyd, outgoing Deputy Mayor, who had previously announced her intended resignation from the Council (now apparently rescinded), led to an unprecedented scene.  Cllr Lloyd challenged the terms of reference for more than one of the new committees, prompting the shock resignation of Cllr Shipman.  Despite standing down as Mayor, he had been expected to continue as a Councillor representing Little Neston ward.  Mr Shipman had served on the council since its inception in 2009.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: "I have this evening resigned my membership of Neston Town Council.

"I took this decision at the Annual Meeting of the Council after 10 minutes had been wasted whilst a member of the Council attempted to propose amendments to the newly adopted committee terms of reference.

"In my view, it does not augur well for the efficient conduct of business if a Councillor can turn up at the meeting without having drafted a clearly worded amendment to implement what was desired. It makes no sense at all that the Council should be asked to formally adopt something agreed only at the end of March, and at the same time agree that it should be changed at its next meeting. The Councillor who wished to see this changed should have come to the meeting with a clear proposal.

"Time is too precious to waste like this."

Neston Town Council has been approached for comment.

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Comments

Gareth
At 18:13 on 17th May 2017, Gareth commented:
Such a shame that Neston Town Council has lost one the very few councillors who have actually been elected by the local community to represent their views.
Susan C
At 19:27 on 17th May 2017, Susan C commented:
Not quite clear what your point is Gareth - do you mean it's a pity more people don't stand for the Council and therefore trigger elections rather than co-options? If so, I doubt anyone would disagree!
Dan
At 20:12 on 17th May 2017, Dan commented:
Having met Cllr Shipman on many occasions this is a real loss to the town council and to Neston. A very genuine man who gave so much to the town in his Council position and as the Mayor.

Looking at the change of committee proposed, they are vastly better - short, simple, precise. I haven't read the terms of reference myself so I can only assume there was an extremely significant issue for Cllr Lloyd to act in this way, to suggest amendments to what was already agreed, and what resulted in one of the most popular members of our council from resigning his position.

Can I finish by saying thank you Mike for everything you have done for Neston. Many many people appreciate those efforts and it was a pleasure to have met you on several occasions. All the best !
Gareth
At 20:19 on 17th May 2017, Gareth commented:
No, I mean exactly what I say. It's a shame that a democratically elected representative has felt the need to stand down. There is surely a question of mandate for the Town Council to consider?

the five questions I've posted before become more and more relevant as time passes.

What power have you got?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you exercise it?
To whom are you accountable?
How do we get rid of you?

Only the first question has a clear answer in my opinion and, as a tax paying resident of this town, this is very worrying!

There is a growing culture of negativity, aggression and in some cases bullying permeating from the actions of some councillors which, in my humble opinion, is restricting the potential of, not only the council, but the wider community.
Gareth
At 20:35 on 17th May 2017, Gareth commented:
Great shout Dan. I can only hope that Mike may reconsider his resignation.
Dan
At 20:46 on 17th May 2017, Dan commented:
Can I also add a huge congratulations to our Junior Mayors, an excellent idea to engage our young people in local matters as they may be Neston leaders themselves in Adult life.

Having been involved with committees and having an interest in national politics I am sometimes taken aback by the behavior of so called adults and the bureaucracy they can generate. Young people have a more simplistic view of the world, but their ideas are no less important. I think we can learn as much from them as they do from us. Great progress !
Dave Carter
At 21:39 on 17th May 2017, Dave Carter commented:
Gareth, if you were to look at the Town Council Website, second item on the left hand side of the front page, you will see that there are currently vacancy notices for Neston Ward and Little Neston Ward, both caused by sitting members moving away from the area because of employment opportunities elsewhere. The vacancy notices spell out in detail, the procedures for a) calling an election, and b) applying for co-option if no election is called. Just to point out that there are only 5 days left to call an election in these two instances. The Riverside Ward vacancy has been filled by co-option at Tuesday's meeting.

In my recollection only once has any resident collected the signatures and called an election.

If on the other hand you mean how do you get rid of the Town Council altogether, then you would need to petition CW&C for a governance review. I think this would involve getting the signatures of 10% of the electorate.

Dan, the terms of reference are all in the meeting papers for Tuesdays meeting. Please read them. They were agreed as they are given there, but it is of course open to a councillor to move a change to those terms of reference at a future full council meeting.

The minutes of Tuesdays meeting will also in due course be published on the Town Council website.
Dave Carter
At 21:46 on 17th May 2017, Dave Carter commented:
Gareth, the answer to your second, third, and fourth questions is, in each case, all of the electors on the electoral roll in our individual wards.
Susan C
At 22:05 on 17th May 2017, Susan C commented:
On this link you can find some detailed history of the establishing of the Town Council, Gareth,
http://nestontowncouncil.org.uk/information/history-of-neston-town-council/
which may help you by answering some of your questions.
Gareth
At 22:08 on 17th May 2017, Gareth commented:
Dave, I am aware of the vacancies and have actively promoted them to local people. I am also aware of the process for calling an election.

I haven't questioned how to get rid of the Council, my question to each individual is how do we, as citizens, get rid of you. (Not you personally).

There are three representatives for my ward. One certainly DOES NOT represent me in any way, shape or form. One I don't know and have only ever seen once at one council meeting and the other is an incredibly committed individual elected to her post and has served the community consistently throughout.

I accept that you believe your answer to two, three and four but I don't necessarily agree that this is true for all.

Having read the standing orders and the terms of reference, there is no clear procedure to remove people from office other than complaining about their conduct and hoping that enough councillors agree with your 3 minute representation.
Gareth
At 22:09 on 17th May 2017, Gareth commented:
Thanks Susan but no, it doesn't.
Dave Carter
At 22:26 on 17th May 2017, Dave Carter commented:
Gareth, you are correct, there is no recall, and I don't think there is for any elected representative at any level in the UK. And I don't believe that even if you complain that a councillor has breached the code of conduct, a simple vote of the rest of the councillors would be sufficient to remove them. How could it? Such a breach would have to be reported to the CW&C monitoring officer, who would then investigate and determine whether there had been such a breach, and if so, whether it was sufficiently serious that a councillor could be disqualified from office. Otherwise, in political councils (which Neston isn't but most are), members of the minority group would simply be removed by the majority, one by one. The only people who can remove a councillor in normal circumstances are the electors of their ward, at the elections which happen every 4 or 5 years (not quite sure which at the moment). And thats true of MPs, although there is an election imminent, there doesn't have to be, and if there wasn't I couldn't do anything about my MP except wait for the next election. And the thing is Gareth, those electors only have the ability to remove their councillor if someone else is prepared to stand against them. Parliamentary elections are nearly always contested (unless you are the speaker), but council elections less so. I only remember two elections for Neston Town Council, both involving the same two people. I have been told that there was an election with more than two candidates before my time.
Gareth
At 22:55 on 17th May 2017, Gareth commented:
I don't have the documents to hand but if someone has been co opted to the council, I believe they can be removed by the councillors.

The significant difference you highlight is that for CWaC Councillors and your MP you are guaranteed a chance to mobilise every 4/5 years. For NTC councillors seem to be able to remain indefinitely despite never being elected. Even when they demonstrably do not represent their electorate.

With regard to NTC there have to be consequences where councillors have breached the code of conduct buts not sure that this would involve CWaC's Monitoring Officer.

I will however be seeking clarification.
D M
At 23:07 on 17th May 2017, D M commented:
It's genuinely a shame that such a positive story about the Juniors (and hearty congratulations to each of them) has been over-shadowed by the out-going Mayor's resignation.

Cllr Shipman has been a tremendous servant to the Town, can be immensely proud of his contribution & achievements, and will be sorely missed. Having previously had the privilege of serving as an elected Town Councillor alongside Cllr Shipman, I am certain that this unfortunate decision will not have been made without due reason - and it is a great shame that his tenure should come to such a conclusion.

It is additionally unfortunate that so few residents seem prepared to put themselves forward for the vacant Town Council positions. It can be a rewarding experience and provides an opportunity for genuine influence over major decisions for the Town. If anyone reading this is considering it, I would urge them to put their name forward - if (and here's the rub) you feel you have sufficient spare time to do the role justice. We need a diverse cross-section of Councillors who represent the best interests of everyone in the community, not just specific agendas. The more Cllr Shpmans we lose, the less representative the Council could be.
Susan C
At 23:20 on 17th May 2017, Susan C commented:
Gareth, A search of various sources does not confirm your belief that a co-opted member can be removed by councillors, but if you find otherwise I hope you will share the details.
Town councillors do not 'remain indefinitely' unless no-one ever stands against them; there are periodic elections. It is totally democratic.
Gareth
At 00:23 on 18th May 2017, Gareth commented:
I will indeed Susan.

I'm interested to know when the periodic elections are for NTC. In the last 10 years I only remember the inaugural vote and one other in Little Neston with two candidates, probably the one mentioned by Dave above.
Susan C
At 08:12 on 18th May 2017, Susan C commented:
Gareth, there were Neston Town Council elections in 2011 and 2015, details of the latter can be found on AMA of that year.

To reiterate, there are currently vacancies in Neston and Little Neston wards.
Dave Carter
At 08:20 on 18th May 2017, Dave Carter commented:
And I think there will be in 2019. Can't wait. At the time of the last general election, there was an election for the whole of Neston Town Council. However in three of the four wards the number of candidates proposed and seconded was less than or equal to the number of vacancies. So those elections were uncontested elections. The councillors who were proposed, seconded, and elected unopposed are still elected councillors, within the meaning of the Local Government Act. They are certainly not co-otped councillors. Some other councillors have since been co-opted, either because not all of the vacancies were filled at the time of the election, or because councillors have resigned (in most cases because they were moving away). But the majority are elected, as defined by the Local Government Act.
Tim Wright
At 09:06 on 18th May 2017, Tim Wright commented:
I should like to make two points. Firstly, that I must convey my congratulations to the Junior Mayor and Deputies and thank you all for putting yourselves forward for public service. I am sure your parents and teachers are very proud and rightly so.

Secondly, I should like to concur with Dan when he praises the new committee set-up. It seems, on paper, far more logical and workable than the earlier incarnations and I look forward to seeing it in action. Might I further suggest that too much tinkering and nit-picking rarely adds positively to any outcome, rather it tends to sap enthusiasm and may even suggest a need to 'control' that ought to be discouraged.
Lambster
At 10:02 on 18th May 2017, Lambster commented:
Very sorry to see Mike Shipman leaving the council but good to see him go out on the high note of handing over 'gongs' to the younger brigade!
Mike Shipman
At 17:20 on 18th May 2017, Mike Shipman commented:
Whilst I thank correspondents for kind words to me, I do think we should now concentrate, as Tim Wright above and others imply on the appointment of Grace, Cameron and Luca. It was great to be able to present them with their badges as my last official duty. My very best wishes to them.

Perhaps the exchanges about the Town Council have now run their course?
CO Jones
At 12:58 on 20th May 2017, CO Jones commented:
Well done to the youngsters.

The rest of the comments read like an episode of the Vicar of Dibley. Without the humour.
Gareth
At 14:18 on 20th May 2017, Gareth commented:
No, no, no, no, no.... ,No!

You need to log in before you can do that! It's only a quick registration process to join the AMA network and completely free.

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