Wrexham Council elects new Mayor – however Deputy Mayor ‘appointment’ has to wait amid shambolic video stream
Councillors have returned to the Chamber this afternoon and appeared to vote for Cllr Brian Cameron to be the Mayor of Wrexham – although with hardly any audio for the public, it is unclear what exactly happened.
The nineteen and a half minute meeting had around three minutes of audio broadcast, a third of which was rustling or applause, along with no clear understanding of what business was being transacted.
The Mayor is traditionally a more Civic role, being a ‘figurehead’ of the council and Wrexham County Borough and is technically the highest ranking person at any council function – unless there is royalty present.
The role also has some key functions, including presiding over meetings of the Council – and has a casting vote if there is a tie – this role came to a head last year over a motion on City Status.
Today’s meeting was the traditional split day ‘Annual Meeting’ of the Full Council, with the high profile civic ‘Mayor Making’ ceremony taking place – although back in the chamber of the Guildhall it was still with limited attendees – including no public or media so the webcast was key for anyone who wished to see what was going on.
There appeared to be prayers from Revd Dr Jason Bray, and a the traditional handover of chains behind the scenes before the webcast cut out. Reappearing later the new Mayor looked like he was giving a speech, followed by Cllr Apsley giving a vote of thanks to the outgoing Mayor and welcoming the new Mayor – in the only substantial contribution audible. Cllr Paul Roberts stood to contribute in some manner, and Cllr Ronnie Prince – the old Mayor – also gave a long speech.
Mace being removed again – think this will be the formal adjournment until tomorrow? Applause from the gown wearing councillors visible in the chamber. All in silence. pic.twitter.com/QBgobhSWwC
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) May 24, 2022
We have clipped the audio from the meeting below where it was broadcast:
Two items were on the formal agenda for the first part of the meeting today, before the meeting was adjourned to tomorrow afternoon:
1. Election of Mayor
To elect the Mayor of the County Borough for the ensuing year.
2. Appointment of Deputy Mayor
To appoint a Deputy Mayor of the County Borough Council for the ensuing year.
FOLLOWING THE MAYOR- MAKING CEREMONY THE MEETING WILL ADJOURN UNTIL 4.00pm ON WEDNESDAY, 25 MAY 2022
TO TRANSACT THE REMAINING BUSINESS
As highlighted the key difference being the Mayor is elected, and the Deputy if Mayor was to be appointed.
Convention in Wrexham sees the Deputy Mayor become the Mayor the following year, and a ‘Constitutional Working Group’ working through criteria such as length of service and meeting attendance to form up a name that would emerge as the new Deputy Mayor.
If readers visited the Council’s website it is likely they would struggle to discover who or what the constitutional working group is, with no public terms of reference, minutes, no attendance or makeup details available – with the meetings taking place in private.
Previously we understand historically Cllr Graham Rogers was set for the Deputy Mayor role this time around before that nomination was not formalised, and David Maddocks was then set for the position – however did not get returned by the electorate of Pant and Johnstown ward.
Wrexham.com understands Cllr Paul Rogers and Cllr Krista Childs were both set for nominations from their respective groups, each group believing they had a worthwhile nominee, however it did not appear that process went forward today – although from the public listening or viewing it was hard to tell what happened.
One councillor has told us after the meeting that business was adjourned ‘without the role of Deputy even being mentioned’.
Looking at the Constitution it appears an election should have taken place:
4.10 Council Procedure Rules – Annual Meeting of the Council
4.10.1 Timing and Business
In a year when there is an ordinary election of councillors, the annual
meeting will take place within 21 days of the retirement of the
outgoing councillors. In any other year, the annual meeting will take
place in March, April or May. The annual meeting will:
18.104.22.168 elect a person to preside if the Mayor and Deputy
Mayor of the Council is not present;
22.214.171.124 elect the Mayor of the Council;
126.96.36.199 elect the Deputy Mayor of the Council;
Eyebrows have been raised by some examining the Constitution in recent days who have discovered the long standing conventions of delegating the decision to the Constitutional Working Group was not infact codified.
Further, as the new Council had only just formally been created when the election was due to take place it could be argued the Constitutional Working Group did not even exist to delegate to.
It is unclear if a historical recommendation from a previous Constitutional Working Group could be binding on a fully new council as we have now, weeks after a local election.
All eyes will now be on tomorrow to see if business picks up on Agenda Item 2 – as per the agenda and Constitution – and if a vote will take place.
Today’s meeting was also notable with the usual catering for the adjournment being highlighted by newly elected Cllr Andy Gallanders who said earlier he would not be attending as he was uncomfortable about a ‘buffet’.
Today @wrexhamcbc celebrate ‘making the mayor’ ceremony.
I will not be attending in person.
I feel uncomfortable that a ‘buffet’ will be laid on for councillors.
I have requested the cost and I will be donating my allocation to a food charity.@wrexham
— email@example.com (@andygrhosnesni) May 24, 2022
We asked Wrexham Council about the menu, what costs were incurred, and if the ‘buffet’ in question was procured locally. A spokesperson told us the cost of buffet is £7.50 per head and “is only ordered for those who have indicated they will be attending”, and consisted of “sandwiches, wraps, savouries, fruit platter, cakes, orange juice, tea or coffee”, and was put together in-house by the WCBC school meal service team.
Cllr Gallanders replied to us noting the audio issues:
But the butties are ready.
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@andygrhosnesni) May 24, 2022
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