In a town council meeting held via a Zoom video conference last week, councillors spoke in glowing terms about Coun Hobson’s efforts during the last 12 months, and argued that since he has not been able to enjoy the full range of civic duties due to the pandemic he should be able to continue in the mayoral role for 2021-22.
No other councillors were nominated to become the mayor for the year ahead, and therefore Coun Hobson was voted in by his fellow councillors.
In proposal, Coun Sue Crew described Coun Hobson as an ‘excellent ambassador’ for the town, who had been pushed prematurely into the role due to the pandemic.
Coun Crew also proposed that the current deputy mayor, Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders, should remain in her post for the following year.
Coun Sue Locking seconded the proposal, and said it was a great shame Coun Hobson had not been able to promote Louth to neighbouring towns due to the pandemic and lockdowns, as previous mayors had been able to do.
Coun Eileen Ballard said the proposal ‘made sense’ and hoped that the mayor would be able to enjoy some normality in the months ahead.
Coun Kevin Norman agreed that Coun Hobson should continue as the mayor, but proposed that Coun Jeremy Baskett should become the new deputy mayor rather than allowing Coun Makinson-Sanders to stay on in the role. This proposal was seconded by Coun Alex Cox.
Several councillors voiced their disapproval, with Coun Fran Treanor saying it would be ‘ludicrous’ to split up the two councillors and replace the deputy mayor while retaining the current mayor.
Coun Andrew Leonard argued it would be ‘churlish’ to split up the ‘double act’ that has served the town over the last year, and said the town council should be ‘indebted’ to both Coun Hobson and particularly Coun Makinson-Sanders, who took on the mantle 12 months ago when there ‘wasn’t exactly a queue’ to take on the position.
Coun Leonard added that both councillors have done a ‘cracking job’ in their roles.
Coun Alex Cox argued the suggestion to elect a new deputy was not ridiculous, and said it was time for a ‘fresh change’ instead of the ‘same old councillors’ serving as the mayor and deputy mayor ‘multiple times’.
Coun Cox added that Coun Makinson-Sanders had said a year ago that she would only be serving as deputy mayor for one year, to ‘mentor’ Coun Hobson and ‘show him the ropes’ of the mayoral role.
Coun David Wing revealed that he had originally put his name in the hat to become the mayor for the year ahead, as he is no longer shielding as he has been since last April, which had resulting in him having to turn down the mayoral role last spring.
He added he will be leaving the council in two years’ time, but withdrew his nomination to become mayor and offered his full support to Coun Hobson and Coun Makinson-Sanders.
Coun Makinson-Sanders addressed councillors and said she had enjoyed the role of deputy mayor and would be ‘quite happy’ to continue.
Coun Jeremy Baskett also addressed councillors, and said he would be ‘very honoured’ to be elected as the deputy mayor – and supported Coun Hobson to continue as the mayor for the year ahead.
He added that Coun Makinson-Sanders had made it ‘absolutely plain’ last year that she would not wish to be deputy mayor again, and said that ‘succession planning and development’ was required on the council.
Coun Baskett said: “There are lots of other people here, and many skills in this council that I’ve come across.
“I must be honest, there are certain people that are becoming mayor time after time because it’s ‘their turn’, and what we wanted to try and see was somebody fresh – like Darren [Hobson] – and let others have a go as well.”
Coun Baskett added that, despite only having been on the town council for only a couple of years, he was not inexperienced, as he has served on other councils and chaired committees in the past, and also has relevant experience having worked in the health service.
Coun Julia Simmons spoke in support of Coun Baskett’s bid to become deputy mayor, and said: “Unless we have some new blood coming in to deputise, and learn the job, then I don’t know how we’re going to move forward with bringing another mayor in.”
Coun Ballard hit back at Coun Baskett’s comments about the same councillors being mayor multiple times.
She said: “Some of us that have been fortunate to have do it more than once, did it because other people didn’t want to do it, or they felt they had not been on the council long enough and did not have the experience of running committees on the council.
“It doesn’t matter what committees you’ve been on elsewhere, it’s a different body. It takes a lot of handling. Experience counts for a lot.
“If you remember last year, Jill [Makinson-Sanders] put her name forward because not one of you wanted to stand!
“Nobody put their hands up then. So there must have been a reason then why you didn’t want to stand.”
The decision went to a vote, with 10 councillors backing Coun Makinson-Sanders and 11 supporting Coun Baskett.
The mayor congratulated Coun Baskett on his election to deputy mayor for the year ahead, and thanked Coun Makinson-Sanders for her service - adding that it had been a pleasure to work with Coun Makinson-Sanders serving as his deputy over the last 12 months.
Coun Makinson-Sanders replied: “I would just like to say it’s been a pleasure, and I’m sorry that councillors don’t have the faith in me to continue.”