Tories and Lib Dems boycott ceremony as Labour's Mike Burton is elected mayor
BOTH Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors boycotted last night's mayor-making ceremony as Labour's Mike Burton was controversially elected to represent North East Lincolnshire.
As reported, the former deputy mayor, Conservative Melanie Dickerson, was expected to be made mayor as per normal protocol.
But for the first time in the authority's 16-year history, councillors were asked to back a different candidate – from the ruling Labour party.
Labour leader Councillor Chris Shaw last week told the Telegraph the reason for the decision was that Mrs Dickerson had been suspended from her other role as a Healing parish councillor earlier this year following a planning row in which it was claimed she did not declare an interest in an item that she should have done.
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However Mrs Dickerson claims her intentions were "honest and genuine" and denies making a mistake.
Conservative councillor John Colebrook, a former North East Lincolnshire mayor, was one of those who boycotted the ceremony at Grimsby Town Hall.
Referring to Mr Shaw, he said: "Anyone who can do a despicable act like that in my eyes should not be supported and that is why I did not attend the mayor-making event."
No Conservative representatives were present at the ceremony and only Susan Pickett, as outgoing mayor, and Liberal Democrat leader Andrew De Freitas attended from their party as he had to give the vote of thanks for her.
Immingham ward representative Mr Burton was nominated by Councillor David Bolton.
He said: "I know how hard Mike has worked over the years for Immingham and I know he will do the same for North East Lincolnshire.
"Mike has the dedication, the integrity, the honesty and is exemplary in his public service duties.
"He also has the mayoral experience from being Immingham Mayor on three occasions.
"I know he will be proud to serve as mayor in this important year for North East Lincolnshire, the UK and for Immingham."
Mr Burton is the first Labour councillor representing Immingham to be made mayor since Len Taylor in 1996.
The last Labour mayor of the borough was Norma Lincoln in 2010.
Speaking once elected, Mr Burton said: "It is a huge honour and privilege to be elected mayor for the forthcoming year.
"I wish to thank my fellow councillors for placing their trust in me and shall endeavour to fulfil that trust to the best of my abilities.
"It will be a pleasure and a delight to meet the many charities and organisations within our boundaries and the many volunteers who put so much time and effort into keeping our community vibrant.
"Already my diary is filling up and I am sure there are going to be many more engagements. I am looking forward to fulfilling them all.
"The mayor is not just about chairing full council but about being an ambassador for the area, prompting and encouraging commerce and business.
"I am thankful for this opportunity to play a full role within our community and to take on the responsibility that you have placed upon me."
The mayor's chosen charity is to be the Grimsby branch of the NSPCC.
Mr Burton said: "I hope to raise a lot of money for this worthwhile cause through my time as mayor."
Peggy Elliott, the new deputy mayor for North East Lincolnshire, was nominated by Councillor Clifford Barber.
Over the moon with her new position, Mrs Elliott, also Labour, said: "I never thought I would be in this position today, but I am grateful and honoured to be representing North East Lincolnshire as its deputy mayor.
"I am looking forward to the many events and functions ahead and I shall put 100 per cent into everything I do."
The role of mayor is a non-political one, and it is unusual for the mayor and deputy to be from the same party.
Mr Shaw, said: "Tonight's mayor-making ceremony went very well and we have elected a mayor that will be an asset not only to the area but to the people of North East Lincolnshire as the first citizen."
Look out for Mrs Pickett's reflections on her year as mayor, coming soon in the Grimsby Telegraph.