Kirkhill councillor becomes town Mayor

The new Mayor and Mayoress of Morpeth, Andrew and Joan Tebbutt. Picture by Ken Stait.
The new Mayor and Mayoress of Morpeth, Andrew and Joan Tebbutt. Picture by Ken Stait.

The new Mayor of Morpeth will be raising funds for a charity based in the town.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt took on the role for the year ahead at the traditional ceremony in the Town Hall last week.

The previous Mayor, Coun Alison Byard, revealed at the start of the town council’s annual meeting that she had raised £10,200 during her 12 months in the position for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

Coun Joan Tebbutt, Andrew’s wife, was chosen as the Mayoress and he has appointed Rev Fiona Sample as the Mayor’s Chaplain.

There was also warm applause when Coun Ron Forster, Minister of St George’s United Reformed Church in Morpeth, was unanimously voted in as Deputy Mayor.

Andrew Tebbutt is an experienced Liberal Democrat councillor who represents the Kirkhill ward on Morpeth Town Council and Northumberland County Council. His charity for 2016/17 is Contact Morpeth Mental Health.

He said: “I feel very honoured and privileged to take on such a prestigious role and follow many worthy people as previous Mayors.

“Alison Byard has been outstanding in her role and brought great credit to Morpeth. I’m so pleased for her that her year has gone so well.

“The charity I’ve chosen helps people who are frequently ignored and don’t always get the support they need from the state.

“Contact does a fantastic job and I was delighted to attend its recent 30th anniversary celebration event where the Duchess of Northumberland cut a fantastic cake to mark the occasion.

“I congratulate Morpeth Town FC on winning the FA Vase and the council will host a civic reception for the team following the open-top bus parade on Morpeth Fair Day.”

Coun Tebbutt added that it will be a busy 12 months for Morpeth. For example, the Morpeth Northern Bypass will be open, many more new homes will be built and the town will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Morpeth Gathering.

When it came to voting him in, 11 councillors were in favour and three councillors were against.

Conservative councillor Johnny Wearmouth, one of those who were not in favour, said afterwards he believes the fact that the Mayor is a town and county councillor will restrict what he can say about controversial county council issues, such as changes to the core strategy.

When asked about this point, Coun Tebbutt said: “There’s no conflict at all in relation to how I speak about important issues and Coun Wearmouth did not speak to me beforehand to discuss any of these concerns, so I believe the decision to vote against me was politically motivated.

“It’s very sad that he and two others took this position, which I believe is an insult to the role of Mayor as the nominations are discussed by all councillors in advance of the annual meeting.”

Coun Forster said he was “humbled and proud” to be the Deputy mayor. His wife Shirley will be his escort.

Coun Byard’s fund-raising activities included a ‘Bushtucker Trial’ challenge, an abseil and a curry night and she received a plethora of donations from individuals and organisations.

She said: “Morpeth has the most marvellous community spirit and my fund-raising this year has had tremendous support. Thanks to all those who have donated to a truly life-saving charity.”