Mayoral history made by council stalwart

Morpeth Mayor Making'Alison Byard and Nic Best'Picture by Ken Stait
Morpeth Mayor Making'Alison Byard and Nic Best'Picture by Ken Stait

History has been made in Morpeth as it has appointed the first Green Party Mayor in the North East.

Nic Best, who has served as a member of Morpeth Town Council for 17 years and was on the former Castle Morpeth Borough Council for a decade, has been elected the town’s civic leader by fellow councillors.

The formal Mayor Making event took place at Morpeth Town Hall last week, with all of the traditional pomp and ceremony. Coun Best was led in by a Northumbrian piper and mace bearer, while the Clocktower Bellringers heralded his appointment.

He will act as the civic head in an important year for the authority as it marks its 30th anniversary, the 300th anniversary of the Vanbrugh-designed Town Hall and the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Coun Best said: “The Mayor has two roles – one is to chair the town council and the other is to represent Morpeth, but I believe these are two sides of the same coin.

“The town council exists for Morpeth and everything we do should be about, and for, the town, and sometimes I think we forget just what a great place Morpeth is.

“All we town councillors are in the job because we want what is best for Morpeth and when we disagree or misunderstand each other, as is both inevitable and healthy, we still need to recognise that this is where we are all coming from.”

He said that he looks forward to forging closer community ties with partners such as the Greater Morpeth Development Trust and the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade.

And particularly mentioned the contribution of Morpeth Churches Together as he re-instates the role of Mayor’s Chaplain.

“The churches of Morpeth contribute a huge amount to the life and community of the town and I think the town council should be working more closely with them.

“This is one of the reasons why I have asked the Rector Simon White to revive the role of Mayor’s Chaplain,” he said.

Coun Best named the Samaritans of Northumbria as his charity of the year and said he will be working to raise its profile, attract more volunteers and raise funds through various civic events, such as Meet the Mayor, the Christmas lights switch-on and the Mayor’s Ball.

“I’ve chosen Samaritans of Northumbria as my Mayor’s Charity partly to remind us councillors of the need to listen to the inarticulate and least vocal, as well as to well-orchestrated lobbies,” he said.

“The Samaritans are not just for the suicidal, they are there for anyone who feels alone or isolated and needs someone to talk to, and I think that could be any or everyone in Morpeth at some time in their lives.”

Coun Best encouraged members of the public to attend council meetings during the year ahead and to continue contributing to the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan.

He also thanked his predecessor Joan Tebbutt for her successful year in office.

He added: “Overall, the coming year promises Morpeth both many challenges and many reasons to celebrate. I hope that I as Mayor, and we as the town council, can do both justice.”

Coun Best was proposed as Mayor by Ron Forster and seconded by Ken Brown.

Coun Forster said: “He is a very humble, hard-working guy and very much involved in Morpeth.”

Coun Alison Byard was elected Deputy Mayor.