Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

Ipswich Borough Council: Mayor Making Ceremony


My wife stepped down as a Conservative councillor at the elections on 4th May. She only had a majority of three so with the current political storm encircling the Conservative Party, her old seat – St John’s – was naturally snapped up by Labour whose candidate romped home with a majority of 647.

But last night Tanya was invited back to the Council to receive her Certificate of Service from the Chief Executive, Russell Williams, so that gave us an excuse to go and watch what turned out to be a right Labour love-in.
Last night’s Ipswich Mayor Making ceremony at the Corn Exchange
– when is the Council going to start web-casting these things?
Each year a new Mayor is ‘elected’ to serve a year’s term. Of course, it’s never an ‘election’ and instead the next Mayor is picked beforehand and because of the Administration’s majority the nominee just gets nodded through. The nominee even sits up front ready to robe up and not in the councillor benches. At least when they elect a Speaker in the House of Commons they pretend to not want the job. 
Labour have had more Mayors than any other Party. It is somewhat sinister on Remembrance Day when the Town Sargent calls out for all “former mayors” to come forward to make up the procession to the Cenotaph. It always made me laugh when two thirds of the Labour Group bounded forward – it takes about five minutes for them to line up! So, as Labour gained another four seats in the local elections the new Mayor of Ipswich is Labour Councillor Mary Blake
Ipswich is a funny old place which seems to buck the trend and the Mayor Making at the Borough Council is no exception. Last year’s Mayor Councillor John Le Grys (also Labour) now becomes this year’s Deputy Mayor. In any other walk of life, the Deputy would do his apprenticeship first then step up to the top job – not so in Suffolk’s County town!
Anyway, democracy needs to be seen to be working so Mary Blake’s nomination for Ipswich Mayor was proposed by Labour councillor Peter Gardiner and seconded by Labour councillor Jeanette Macartney – both with gushing speeches about the “wonderful Mary”. Outgoing Mayor Cllr Le Grys then asked if there were any other nominations. Hmm, considering Labour have 32 councillors, the Tories have 12 and the Liberals have 4, it was a rhetorical question. 
Cllr John Le Grys and then Cllr Mary Blake swapped robes. Outgoing Deputy Chairman Roger Fern who had been Mayor of Ipswich before back in 2004-5, so could not be Mayor again, then gave his robes to Cllr Le Grys, who funnily enough was also elected unopposed. Mayor Blake then gave a vote of thanks to the new Deputy Mayor for being Mayor! 
After the Mayor’s speech it all turned into a love-in. Cllr Le Grys replied and reminisced about the year and the antics he got up to; he then name dropped Morning Ipswich Star editor Nigel Pickover who he went tobogganing with or something. He then asked aloud “Is Nigel here? No. Oh Paul is!” referring to Morning Ipswich Star’s political editor, Paul Geater. Labour must think the local rag is their mouthpiece but considering the Morning Ipswich Star’s circulation figures, not many people are listening these days.  
I’m failing to understand why Mr Geater gets his own table and jug of water at Council meetings. What’s the circulation threshold for getting a seat at the Media table? Because there is a good chance the Morning Ipswich Star may have dipped below it. I think I might apply to the Council for media accreditation – considering the blogs are giving the dead tree press a run for their money, it seems only fair we get a place at the special table at Council meetings!
Then the political business end of the meeting started and up popped our old friend Labour leader Councillor David Ellesmere. He couldn’t help but make a party political point when he said he had offered places on the Executive (the Council’s Cabinet) again this year to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. They had – in my view rightly – declined. What planet does Cllr Ellesmere thinks he lives on? Why would the Tories and Liberals want to be associated with a failing Labour Council with no power because of their minority position. But there is a clever tactic here: Labour want to try and build a bomb shelter around themselves for when they inevitably have to go to the electorate for more council tax. The Tories are certainly not falling for that trick, David.
Committee places were then formally voted on. Labour all voted ‘For’ but the Conservatives and the Liberals reneged on their responsibilities to represent their voters and abstained. I thought they would have turned over a new leaf this year.
The final business item was to nominate two councillors to fill Ipswich’s places on the new Police and Crime Panel for Suffolk, part of the Coalition Government’s new Police Commissioner model for police accountability, and will basically act as a Scrutiny Committee. Elections for Police Commissioners take place in November. Cllr Neil Macdonald, portfolio holder for ‘Safer Ipswich’ (very New Labour speak!) took the opportunity to bash the new police accountability policy (which to be fair I’m not exactly in favour of as I’ve posted before*) then he nominated Labour Councillor Peter Gardiner and new Labour Councillor Glen Chisholm to represent Ipswich on the panel. Again, because of Labour’s whopping majority they duly ensured their boys ended up on the police panel despite better talent existing on the Opposition benches – purely partisan!
The meeting then closed but to just remind everyone the People’s Republic of Ipswich was firmly back in the red after it’s dalliance with the Tories and Liberals, a chorus of “Happy Birthday” started up to pass on our best wishes to our Dear Leader, Mayor Blake. May she live for a thousand years!
*The Police Commissioner legislation was eventually got through the Lords by the Government after amendments.

Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

4 thoughts on “Ipswich Borough Council: Mayor Making Ceremony

  1. Talking of talent on the opposition benches, any comments about what Carnell is doing putting the likes of Debman and Pope on the Tory front bench, when Cllrs Young & Harsant clearly have more talent?

  2. "The committee places were then formerly voted on"Formally?!

  3. Gosh Stephen, you are pedantic!

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