MORPETH’S new Mayor believes that it will be an excellent year for the town if the whole community makes a contribution.
Mark Horton, who received his robe and chain of office at the town council’s Annual Meeting last week, urged residents to play a part in helping the economy, environment and Morpeth’s development.
The authority’s first Liberal Democrat councillor, who was elected in 2001, has been Chairman in the past, but this is his first 12-month stint as Mayor.
In his speech, after his nomination was unanimously backed by fellow members, the Loansdean resident said: “It seems to me that the question is not ‘what can I achieve personally’, but ‘what part can I play in ensuring Morpeth remains successful and attractive to families, visitors, and commerce’?
“Morpeth has an enviable record in attracting major investment, the Dransfield developments bear witness to this. Morpeth needs a vibrant retail and commercial economy if it is to grow and continue to attract investment. The challenge is achieving this without spoiling Morpeth’s intrinsic character as a successful English market town. This council led on the recent Portas Pilot funding application which, even if unsuccessful, has laid the foundations of collaborative working for years to come.
“This council intends to lead on achieving the aims of that bid with or without Portas funding. Everyone who lives in Morpeth can also help by spending their money in Morpeth — not only in the town centre, but also in Coopies Lane.”
Coun Horton is confident of success in both Northumbria and Britain in Bloom in partnership with other organisations and again called on residents to help by clearing litter in their area and encouraging others not to drop it.
He said the council may have disagreements with its ‘friends’, but it will not desert them when in need.
He added: “We have been awarded money to allow us to act as a front-runner for the Localism Bill and this funding will allow the council, again in collaboration and partnership, to ensure local people and organisations play their part in the full agenda of Localism, including planning.
“I believe I must be able to say in a year from now that Morpeth is even better now than it was when I started, but I will need the help of everyone to do that.”
The Senior Engineering Consultant, who works for AMEC E&I, is also a volunteer for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation. His Mayoress is wife Lynne, a School Improvement Officer for Secondary Standards.
He praised outgoing Mayor Phil Taylor for his efforts during the last 12 months.
Coun Richard Thompson was elected as Deputy Mayor after getting the support of fellow Lib Dem councillors. But not all members were in favour as Conservative councillor Dave Herne was nominated for the role by Labour member Derek Thompson.
Green councillor Nic Best seconded Coun Herne’s nomination ‘with regret’, as he said he had not been part of the discussions about who would be put forward. However, he accepted that he did not realise there was an opt-in system for the talks with the town council as opposed to councillors having to opt-out when the Mayoralty was discussed in the days of the former Castle Morpeth Council.