Oswestry to have Green Party deputy mayor as council row finally resolved
A Green Party councillor is set to become Oswestry's deputy mayor after a dispute over who would take over the role was resolved.
A constitutional row broke out when councillors went against tradition and voted against the leader of the Green Party on Oswestry Town Council, Duncan Kerr, becoming deputy mayor.
Traditionally the role is filled in accordance with the seniority list of the council and, in line with this, Councillor Kerr was set to become deputy mayor this year and then take over as mayor next year.
Yet in January, while Councillor Kerr was away in Uganda, councillors ignored precedent to propose Conservative councillor Mark Jones as deputy instead of Councillor Kerr - despite following tradition to elect current deputy John Price as mayor.
Independent former mayor Peter Cherrington was accused of playing party politics in proposing the amendment blocking Councillor Kerr's election, despite himself claiming the move was an attempt to stop the town council becoming too political.
A row followed, with Councillor Kerr threatening legal action and residents loudly criticising the council at a public meeting.
However today the council announced that, following meetings between leading councillors, Councillor Kerr would be presented as the deputy mayor at the mayor-making ceremony next month.
The decision was made after Councillor Jones decided to turn down the deputy mayor position to help resolve the dispute.
Councillor Price will be proposed as mayor as planned.
Councillor Kerr said: “I am pleased that following our discussions a satisfactory and amicable outcome has now been achieved that now follows the long-established tradition of the council of how it elects its mayor and deputy mayor each year.
"The gesture from Councillor Mark Jones to decline the position of deputy mayor for 12 months is very much appreciated.
"The opportunity for discussions to clear the air, but to also recognise and accept a need to revisit how civic leaders in the future are elected, has been important.
"I would like to thank everyone that has worked hard to make this outcome possible”
Chairman of the Council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee, Councillor Chris Schofield, acknowledged the public interest in the matter and said: “It has been pleasing to resolve this issue as Oswestry has many opportunities and challenges that demand the attention and combined efforts of all councillors.
"This matter is behind us and we look forward to the next civic year and continuing to work together for the wider benefit of the town.
"At the right time we will revisit certain of the procedures of the council but at present other matters that offer opportunities and funding for Oswestry have a much higher priority.”