Long-standing stalwart councillor, Roger Giles, has finally been elected as Mayor of Ottery St Mary, after 28 years service on the town council.

It was the first meeting of the new council on Monday evening and Cllr Geoff Pratt proposed Roger for the position, which was seconded by Cllr Vicky Johns.

Cllr Pratt pointed to Roger’s long service on the town council, plus 20 years as a member of Devon County Council and 25 years as a member of East Devon District Council, from which he has just stood down….

Despite Cllr Giles, being repeatedly returned with a huge majority by the residents of Ottery, he has never been Mayor as he has not previously had the support of his fellow councillors.

Asked whether there were any other nominations, Cllr Elli Pang unexpectedly proposed Cllr Richard Copus, who was attending his very first meeting as a councillor. Lyn Harding seconded her proposal.

But Cllr Copus replied that this came as a surprise didn’t feel it was appropriate. He said he was happy to support Roger Giles for the position of Mayor.

The proposal was carried, with two votes against.

Geoff Pratt was then elected as Deputy Mayor.

Cllr Giles read out his declaration of office and made the following remarks:

Thank you Paul for concluding your duties; and thank you for the very successful conclusion, as far as I am concerned. And thank you for what you have done as Mayor over the last 12 months.

I would first of all like to thank the people of Ottery for returning me to be their representative on this council; and to you all for your support in making me Mayor.

And I would like to congratulate those councillors – old and new – who were elected on 2 May.

And I would like to offer my commiserations to those people who were not successful on 2 May. I would like to offer my thanks for the work carried out by Paul Bartlett, Paul Carter, Anne Edwards, Josefina Gori and Ian Holmes on this council. I think that their efforts should be recognised (Ian Holmes, for instance, was Deputy Mayor for many years, and most recently a very good Chairman of the Planning Committee).

I am going to ask the Clerk to look into the possibility of some tangible recognition of service of former councillors. Perhaps we could have an item on the agenda of a future meeting about this?

Being the Mayor of the Parish of Ottery St Mary is a great honour and a privilege. I accept the office humbly. I hope that I shall manage to carry out my duties on behalf of all the people of our parish, in the way that they would wish.

I believe that being the `first citizen` of Ottery is an honour that should be widely available to councillors. It is therefore my intention to serve as Mayor for just one year. In the unlikely event that there is nobody prepared to be Mayor in May 2020, I MIGHT be persuaded to change my mind.

So fellow councillors thank your for your trust in me. I hope that I will meet your expectations.

This is a new council, with many new councillors and presumably new ideas. Which is good. I hope those of us who have been here some time will accept those new ideas; and I hope that the new councillors will also recognise the experience that we older councillors possess.

Thank you all once again.

Here’s a photo of them both at Monday’s meeting!